National Poetry Month: Writing Wild, Day 25

Kathryn Aalto says that Elena Passarello‘s book, Animals Strike Curious Poses (2017) “is the best book on animals I’ve read.” (p. 228) She goes on to say that “Passarello’s writing is playful” with “a tender poignancy” underlying each essay. Her writing is also infused with empathy, which is on full display in her first book of essays, Let Me Clear My Throat (2012). In this collection, Passarello writes “about the relationship of voice to identity.

Photo credit Wendy Madar

Exploring this relationship between voice and identity has emerged as a common thread between the writers profiled in Writing Wild. As I pondered how to write a poem in response to Passarello’s work, I watched a video my son posted on Instagram of him running a rapid on a river in North Carolina. I thought about the years of kayaking he’s done and how that experience allows him to “read” the river, to listen to the river’s voice, so he can safely navigate his way through the rocks. Every river has a distinctive voice, and unfortunately, we don’t always listen to what they are telling us. I decided to write a “scavenger hunt” poem, explained by Amanda Gorman in this video. I didn’t follow Gorman’s directions exactly, but I gathered a nice assortment of words (highlighted in bold) to include in my poem, which is still very “drafty.”

Slip into your boat. 
Borders evaporate.
You and the river converge.
Be still.

The murmuring river 
has a tale to tell.
Tongues of water curl, 
vees form, marking a path
through the wild tumult
of froth and foam.

Be still.
The river points 
the way.

Draft © 2021, Catherine Flynn

Michael (in red boat) and friends

Previous Writing Wild posts:

Day 1: Dorothy Wordsworth
Day 2: Susan Fenimore Cooper
Day 3: Gene Stratton-Porter
Day 4: Mary Austin
Day 5: Vita Sackville-West
Day 6: Nan Shepherd
Day 7: Rachel Carson
Day 8: Mary Oliver
Day 9: Carolyn Merchant
Day 10: Annie Dillard
Day 11: Gretel Ehrlich
Day 12: Leslie Marmon Silko
Day 13: Diane Ackerman
Day 14: Robin Wall Kimmerer
Day 15: Lauret Savoy
Day 16: Rebecca Solnit
Day 17: Kathleen Jamie
Day 18: Carolyn Finney
Day 19: Helen Macdonald
Day 20: Saci Lloyd
Day 21: Andrea Wulf
Day 22: Padma Venkatraman
Day 23: Camille T. Dungy

5 thoughts on “National Poetry Month: Writing Wild, Day 25

  1. The other day when Chloe was looking for a prompt for writing, she went back to this one from Amanda Gorman. The words you chose work well for the peaceful wildness of this poem. I’ve only been in rapids once and it was an amazing thrill.


  2. I’ve kayaked before but never thought to listen, instead, we all watched as carefully as we could. Your poem makes me think of all the times we should listen instead of look! Wow, I love that photo of your son!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. […] Day 1: Dorothy WordsworthDay 2: Susan Fenimore CooperDay 3: Gene Stratton-PorterDay 4: Mary AustinDay 5: Vita Sackville-WestDay 6: Nan ShepherdDay 7: Rachel CarsonDay 8: Mary OliverDay 9: Carolyn MerchantDay 10: Annie DillardDay 11: Gretel EhrlichDay 12: Leslie Marmon SilkoDay 13: Diane AckermanDay 14: Robin Wall KimmererDay 15: Lauret SavoyDay 16: Rebecca SolnitDay 17: Kathleen JamieDay 18: Carolyn FinneyDay 19: Helen MacdonaldDay 20: Saci LloydDay 21: Andrea WulfDay 22: Padma VenkatramanDay 23: Camille T. DungyDay 24: Elena Passarello […]


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