Story posted January 25, 2007
Care packages to loved ones serving in Iraq often contain some of the comforts of home — things like cookies or potato chips — and some of the necessities that often run short over there, like toilet paper.
Nell Rumbaugh of Kensington, Md., had sent her brother the usual things like Doritos, some soup, and yes, TP, but she wanted to do more. Maj. John Rumbaugh, a batallion surgeon, is a lover of poetry. Nell, a military wife herself, wanted to send some sustenance to nourish his soul, and turned to From the Fishouse — a non-profit online audio literary journal — for help.
From the Fishouse and some students from Bowdoin College have teamed up to send Maj. Rumbaugh a veritable feast: an iPod Nano filled with 634 poems read by their authors, as well as 65 question-and-answer segments, 12 podcasts from the live Fishouse Reading Series, and 24 Romantic Period poems by Clare, Keats, Coleridge, Shelley, Byron and others read by Fishouse poets.
Having received the iPod with its meaningful contents, John Rumbaugh commented to his mother how impressed he was that people who didn’t even know him would go to such lengths to send him such a tremendous gift.
To Nell he wrote, "My lovely sister, I received the iPod and have been listening to poems. Magnificent. I love all the beautiful things you have given me to improve my life."
Bowdoin students Will Voinot-Baron ’07 and Aisha Woodward ’08 were among those who donated money toward the purchase of the iPod. The Rumbaughs’ uncle, Kevin Downey, contributed to the cause, as did Fishouse poets Douglas Woodsum, Gibson Fay-LeBlanc and Keetje Kuipers.
From the Fishouse was founded to promote the oral tradition of poetry. The free online audio archive showcases emerging poets (defined as poets with fewer than two published books of poetry at the time of submission) who are already highly acclaimed and major award winners reading their own poems and answering questions about poetry and the writing process.
The organization’s mission is to provide up-and-coming poets an outlet to a wider audience, to provide the public with greater access to authors reading their own work, and to provide an educational resource to students and teachers of contemporary poetry.
From the Fishouse takes its name — and the spelling of "Fishouse" — from the writing cabin of the late Maine writer, Lawrence Sargent Hall '36, who taught English at Bowdoin from 1946 to 1986. Through a series of coincidences, the cabin was obtained by From the Fishouse’s executive director, Matt O’Donnell, who is also Bowdoin magazine’s associate editor.