Poems: Mill River Flood Commemoration

Mill River Flood Commemoration

All month, I’ve been writing and sharing a series of poems inspired by historical document “pins” (information posters placed at various points along the way) that have been placed to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mill River Flood here where I live in Western Massachusetts. My initial plan was to write a poem for every pin but there were just too many pins (70+) but I still used quite a few of the pins from the StoryMap project that digitally renders the story of the flood.

My aim was to understand the story of the flood on another level by engaging with the historical pins as texts. I already had knowledge of the flood and it devastating impact on the village where I live (many people died — the dam was faulty — the rich mill owners never had to pay the price for cutting corners).

You can either read my poems forward (following the pins, which followed the waters as the dam broke and the river surged forward) or read them in reverse (using the hashtag I created to track the poems) to track the impact of the flood from downriver, upward.

Mill River/Leeds Artwork

This beautiful artwork by my neighbor – Heidi Stevens — was featured as part of a commemoration ceremony we had this month, where the names of all victims of the flood were read aloud, so that we — the community — would not forget them. Heidi used found river glass for her work. We still find glass, pottery, buttons and other materials in the river, an echo of the past in the form of lost objects.

Peace (flows forward),


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