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.   

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

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.

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

  1. Rita B

    Write about a first Catch –

    Rita Basuray’

    In my case, my first catch wasn’t a fish, but my surgeon father’s well read [surgical] resident. In my culture, marrying a daughter off to a good catch is prized.
    I revolted, said “no! absolutely not!”
    My mother, who was married off at age 15, had said before that she wouldn’t arrange my marriage. So, my first elusive catch reminded just that – elusive.
    I don’t remember what happened to him. I caught my prized catch – a theoretical physicist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elizabeth

      Rita, this is really a multi faceted piece with some humor included. It made me smile and I wanted to share that I married to a physicist also… Definitely not my first catch, but a long lasting one.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Perhaps I never continued
    fishing past those childhood days with my father
    ( a rare act of being together)
    because even the act of weaving
    a worm to the hook
    made me squeamish inside
    but yes I was pulled by
    the excitement of the hunt
    yet grateful I was not the one
    to release, kill, or clean the catch
    of its slippery innards
    I could eat it’s white flesh
    and still do
    but always grateful to be removed
    from the killing
    and for the life that sustains my life

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elizabeth

      Beth, I love your description about what you found problematic with fishing and despite that the connection to your father… Your description brought me back to a place of childhood when I had very similar troubled feelings about the act of fishing, yet could eat some of the best tasting fish of my life.


  3. About a first catch~~~

    I survived, but did I really?
    To live in fear, to live in doubt is like being imprisoned within your body.
    I so sought freedom…escape from the thoughts that lingered in my mind before I drift off to sleep.

    And so, I set off on a trek, a trek of endurance and courage.
    To face the specter of fear straight on.

    Step by step, I climbed the 1000-plus rocky steps up the side of Jack’s Mountain.
    At its crest, knees aching, heart pounding, I peered out at the distant peaceful valley below.
    I had truly made it… I had come back.
    Exhilaration filled my mind and soul, like the day when as a child I went fishing with my dad and caught my first rainbow trout in the cold creek waters of upstate New York.

    Both memories I hold dear. They stand at the ready whenever I need my spirit refreshed.

    Liked by 1 person

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