O something pernicious and dread! Something far away from a puny and pious lifeâ€”Walt Whitman, â€œSong of Myselfâ€ (The Joys, 196)
Walt Whitman–heâ€™s escaped what afflicts you and me, â€œsomething escaped from the anchorage, and driving free.â€ Now, Poetry Slow Down, this has been an eventful year, has it not? And Iâ€™m thinking of you, in the suffering heat, and of our times, hospitals, operations, deaths, births, losses of ones on two and four feet and winged, sorrows, bellows, neighs, pants, cries, and every which wayness happening illimitably. So itâ€™s time to hang a sign on our door and say, Gone Fishing. There is something about poetry and fish, poetry and fishing that is ancient and that we have to hear.
So come away with me, Poetry Slow Down, from the pernicious and dread, close the doors, put up a sign, Gone Fishin, KRXA 540AM, and weâ€™ll chill with Whitman, Billy Collins, e.e. cummings, Elizabeth Bishop, Shelley, Gerard Manely Hopkins, Thomas Hardy, Dylan Thomas, Pablo Neruda, Chuck Tripi, Herman Melville, Yeats, and me coming to terms with my inner bear/fisherman/fish.
Weâ€™re exploring what we mean by such a sign as Gone Fishing, for poetry and creativity and being awake and present in this world. What is it about Gone Fishing, putting up that sign? A socially sanctioned hookey? An eat-your-hearts-out moment? But the poets donâ€™t leave us behind to taunt us with where they are and weâ€™re not. They take us imaginatively with them, only leaving work to do The Work of the poet, casting the mindâ€™s eye on our worldâ€™s waters, â€œgoneâ€ enough to be presentÂ . . . to get us â€œout there,â€ â€œouta here,â€ and â€œhearâ€ what our world has to say to us. Â This show is not just about fishing, but . . . being gone, getting ourselves gone, to a place we need to be. A workday excursion, excused, perhaps because it IS The Work. The act, the practice, the devotion, the art, the science of being gone, no longer present, to be present in a different way that we need and upon which, perhaps, our world and lives depend. I suggest poetry as a practice of Gone Fishing is a way of Carpe Diem, catching the worldâ€™s meaning, seizing it, and perhaps letting it go, alive for us on the page of poetry, and weâ€™re seeing â€œRainbow!â€ (Bishop, â€œThe Fishâ€). Meanwhile, heat, what heat? Okay, weâ€™re slowed down, weâ€™re catching the day. Thank you for joining me, and Iâ€™ll catch you later.
Barbara Mossberg, Dr. B
Â© Barbara Mossberg 2011
Produced by Sara Hughes
KRXA 540AM, Broadcast Live, August 7, 2011, from Yosemite National Park. Thank you to all who contributed to this production, Wawona Hotel/Yosemite Park Service, LeConte Memorial Lodge and Dr. Bonnie Gisel, â€œBillyâ€ from Budget/Logan Interantional Airport (Go, Red Sox! And wait for future program), and Sophia Mossberg.