Archives for posts with tag: ships

I Visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
a Few Months after My Divorce

by Jennifer Finstrom

and know, without wading into the water, that it is both cold and deep. I should have worn my necklace made from shipwreck pottery, ceramic fragment smoothed by tongues of sand, sliver of broken plate speaking the language of mourning brooches worn by Victorian ladies.

When the Edmund Fitzgerald was lost with her crew on November 10, 1975, I was six years old. Twenty years later, the ship’s bronze bell was brought to the surface, the centerpiece of the museum. It will be what I remember most from this visit, and I want to put out my hand and stroke its cold flank, listen for what it can tell me of silence.

Later, walking the beach, I imagine what mermaids would swim off Whitefish Point, see them in winter coats with shiny fish scales in place of fur. They circle the lighthouse, carry spears instead of tridents, bear souls in their arms to an underwater Valhalla.

I take six stones with me when I leave. They stand for someone’s death. I don’t know whose.

PHOTOGRAPH: The bell from the SS Edmund Fitzgerald on display at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula comes into my poetry quite often, and even though I’ve vacationed in other places over the years, when I read this call for submissions, I knew that I’d write something about the UP.

Finstrom Vacation

Jennifer Finstrom
 teaches in the First-Year Writing Program, tutors in writing, and facilitates a writing group, Writers Guild, at DePaul University. She has been the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine since October of 2005, and recent publications include Escape Into LifeMidwestern GothicNEAT, and YEW Journal. She also has work appearing in the Silver Birch Press The Great Gatsby Anthology and forthcoming in the Alice in Wonderland Anthology.

PHOTO: The author on vacation (in Evanston, near her home city of Chicago) this year.


Today, on my desk, I found a beautiful Canadian dime (like the one on the right — only mine was dated 2009). It probably fell out of my wallet sometime during the past week and I didn’t notice it until I started to dust (a never-ending job in L.A. — the dustiest place I’ve ever seen!).

And if L.A. is the dustiest place I’ve ever seen, I’ll use some superlatives when describing the Canadian dime — the shiniest, silveriest, most gorgeous work-of-art coin I’ve ever seen. On Wikipedia, I learned that the ship on the Canadian dime is called a Bluenose (“a fishing and racing schooner from Nova Scotia built in 1921…”). Wikipedia stated that the coin is “magnetic…[because] it has a high steel content.” (I couldn’t find a magnet to try it out.)

Kudos to coin designer Emanuel Hahn for his beautiful creation (FYI, Queen Elizabeth II is on the other side — she looks good, too).

There was something magical about the Canadian dime and its beautiful sailing ship appearing on my desk — and the discovery made me think of one of my favorite Van Morrison tunes “Into the Mystic.” Here is the first stanza:

We were born before the wind

Also younger than the sun

Ere the bonnie boat was won 

As we sailed into the mystic

Hark, now hear the sailors cry

Smell the sea and feel the sky

Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic.


Listen to Van the Man sing “Into the Mystic” live here.


I just watched the trailer for the film version of The Life of Pi, scheduled for release on November 21, 2012. (Watch it here.) With a $100 million budget and Oscar-winning director Ang Lee at the helm, this 3D adventure is probably the most anticipated movie of the year. Fans of the now-classic book (including yours truly) wonder if the movie can possibly do justice to the source material. I have a hunch it will.

Unlike books such as The Great Gatsby, which are all about the lyricism of the words on the page — and how can you ever capture that reading experience on film? — The Life of Pi is all about story, and an exciting, unpredictable tale it is.

I first read the novel about ten years ago as part of a book discussion group. If I hadn’t “had” to read it, I might not have been able to plow through the sometimes-slow, expository opening section to arrive at the book’s exciting middle and profound ending. I’ve never had such an intense reaction to a book’s conclusion — ah, ha! — so that’s who Richard Parker really was! (Richard Parker is the charmingly named tiger at the heart of the book.)

In our book discussion group, reactions were divided — some people just couldn’t get through Part One (approximately the first third of the approximately 300 page book) to reach Part Two, where the story took off with: “The ship sank.” And by Part Three (about the last 20 pages), you understand why the author, Yann Martel — in a writing tour de force — set up the story the way he did in Part One.

I found The Life of Pi  enlightening, exciting, exquisite, exceptional. It was one of the most significant reading experiences of my life. Will the movie live up to the book? From what I’ve seen so far, looks like it just might .