Interview with Chris Dombrowski

May 28, 2009 § 9 Comments

I couldn’t wait for Chris Dombrowski’s collection of poems “By Cold Water” (Wayne State University Press). Chris is a wonderful poet, a great angler and a damn fine human being. He was gracious enough to take some time after his book tour to answer a few questions.

Jonah Ogles: I kept thinking of Kinnell’s Book of Nightmares when I was reading By Cold Water, except your book doesn’t seem to be a nightmare, but some dream world where the line between nature and the man-made world was blurred. No question there, just saying.

photo by Steven Krutek

Chris Dombrowski: That’s kind of you to say. I keep looking through these questions and thinking: Man, this guy really knows how to ask insightful questions. No answer there, just saying.

JO: What’s the first thing you would tell someone beginning to fish?

CD: Go sit on a log and watch the river. Let’s see what we can see, one of my fishing partners always says. We’d go sit in this swamp on the South Branch (of the AuSable in Michigan) and watch the river for a few hours every evening. Mayflies, caddis, stoneflies, would pour off the river, fish would rise, the same sow black bear often walked by, scenting us in the air. Lots of nights we wouldn’t even cast. Each time we sat there we’d stick a fly in the sitting log—we’d leave the flies there until we eventually made a cast at a fish. One May we went 11 straight nights without ever casting—11 flies in the log, and finally this big brown trout chases a school of minnows into the shallows, nearly miring itself in the sand. By then we were so immersed with observation, we had to argue about who would cast for the fish after it returned to its midstream lie—you cast to it! no you cast to it! If we’d been fishing, actively casting, we very likely wouldn’t have seen that happen.

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