Live Virtual Group Session: 6PM EDT July 25th 2022

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

Twenty-five participants gathered from various locations to read and discuss “The First Fish” from Ada Limón’s 2022 collection The Hurting KindWe discussed how the word “[f]irst” (appearing in the title) indicates an important event. The poem’s speaker, calling herself “a barbarous girl”, recounts catching a fish with a gold circled black eye and “terrible mouth” in order to be called brave. Participants saw the situation as one in which the girl lacks power; the narrator now as a woman reflecting on the experience with regret.   

Later, four participants read aloud their responses to the prompt “Write about a first catch” and captured the group’s attention with accounts of: refusing to accept the doctor who her father saw as a “catch” and catching a theoretical physicist instead; catching a cold, which was feared to be COVID and being “voted off the island”; witnessing one’s self as being “the first catch”; and fishing as a child and wishing to ride away on the back of the fish that got away.   

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Please join us for our next session Friday July 29th at 12pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions.

The First Fish from The Hurting Kind by Ada Limón

When I pulled that great fish up out of Lake Skinner’s
		mirrored-double surface, I wanted to release 
	the tugging beast immediately. Disaster on the rod,
		it seemed he might yank the whole aluminum skiff
	down toward the bottom of his breathless world.
		The old tree of a man yelled to hang on and would
	not help me as I reeled and reeled, finally seeing 
		the black carp come up to meet me, black eye 
	to black eye. In the white cooler it looked so impossible.
		Is this where I am supposed to apologize? Not 
	only to the fish, but to the whole lake, land, not only for me
		but for the generations of plunder and vanish.
	I remember his terrible mouth opening as if to swallow
		the barbarous girl he’d lose his life to. The gold-ringed
	eye did not pardon me, no absolution, no reprieve.
		I wanted to catch something; it wanted to live.
	We never are the bottom-feeder, buried by the rosebush
		where my ancestors swore the roses bloomed
	twice as big that year, the year I killed a thing because
		I was told to, the year I met my twin and buried
	him without weeping so I could be called brave.   

Credit: Limón, Ada. “The First Fish.” The Hurting Kind. (2022) Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions.