A Note from Derek Sheffield

Recently, I wrote to poet Derek Sheffield, whose poem “Good Fish” appeared in the October issue of Poetry. It’s a fishing poem, and near the end the poet has a slip of the tongue and says “good fist” instead of “good fish.”

A colleague of mine who is a fan of both fishing and poetry read the poem, and we were stumped about the “good fist.” So I got a hold of Sheffield, and his response follows:


Thanks for your email.  I’m glad you like the poem.   Normally, I publish a poem in a lit. mag. and never hear a word. . .This is a new one for me.  I like it, hearing from a reader and fellow writer about something I’ve written…

As to your good question, I think the editors in their podcast have a good take on “good fist.”  Did you hear it?  If not, here it it: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/journal/audioitem.html?id=587


The podcast illuminates the poet’s intent by providing a reading of the poem with the editors’ analysis. The good fist slip is an eruption of the masculine acts that are described throughout the poem. It’s exactly what I felt as I read the poem but was unable to put into words.

Thanks, Derek!


~ by ericedits on December 9, 2008.

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