Friday, February 25, 2011

14th Annual Fisher Poets Gathering, Astoria OR

14th Annual Fisher Poets Gathering, Astoria, OR 2011
"Pull hard and she comes easy." 

Fisher Poets is here!  Today and tomorrow, Feb 25 &26 is the 14th annual Fisher Poets Gathering in beautiful, sunny, downtown Astoria Oregon.  And so am I.  This is my first year at the FPG and I'm a greenhorn.  But, no worries.  I didn't even have my bags out of my rental car at the hotel yet when I ran into someone I know, Steve, a fellow gillnetter in Cordova.  He's an old salt at reciting his poems here and is showing me the ropes. 

Last night, we checked out the Voodoo Room, one of the 8 venues where the performances are held this year,  I'll be there tomorrow night at 7 PM.  Then, it was over to Clemente's for a dinner, meet and greet and open mike.  Appetizers  included Carpaccio, a thinly pounded local Albacore tuna with olive oil, shallots, black pepper and a touch of lemon and garlic, served on warm bread.  For dinner, I had the Oysters Casino.  Fresh Willipa Oysters broiled with bacon, chives, bread crumbs, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and a cream sauce. Yum.

FPG is part of an Astoria tradition, bringing men and women tied to the commercial fishing industy together to share stories, poems, memoirs, essays in celebration of the industry and it's people.  It's people, the community of fishermen.  Birds of a feather flock together.  That's it.  That's one of the things that has kept me fishing all these years.  I started fishing for the adventure of it, some 18 years ago, but the reason I keep coming back to it is the people. 

At last night's dinner, there were folks there I knew from fishing in Cordova, AK.  Like Buck, Lloyd, Phil, Dennis and Patty.  Then there was Rich and his wife, Marsha, whom I met in Hawaii a few years back.  And there's Pat and Jon,  who I'd emailed when arranging to come to this and finally met last night, face to face.  Then there's guys like Dave, who I sat next to last night.  Turns out, he and I both worked for the same family but at different times.  He worked for Gene Sheldon back in the '70's when kids two boys, Brian and Dave were still kids.  In the mid 90's I worked for Dave.  Small world.  But that's what I love about it, you just start talking and before you know it, there's a connection. 

As I mentioned in last week's blog, the performanced will be live on the radio.  Community radio station KMUN-FM broadcasts the Friday and Saturday evening program from the Astoria Event Center. This includes "streaming live" over the web at Simply go to their website and on the left click the button "Listen now on Demand".  I'll be on between 7 and 8 PM Pacific Time Friday night!  I'll be doing a shorten version of a story from my book, which will, hopefully, be out later this year.  I can give you a sneak peek of a poem that I'll be reading, too.  Just don't tell anyone.

I wrote this poem a few years ago, before I fell of the wagon on quiting fishing. It's call Fishin' Again.

Fishin’ Again

The seas were high

Yet there was I

Standing upon my boat

Whilst the waves were mean,

Gruff and green

I manage to stay afloat.

Though thoughts turn

Towards headin’ back to town

Where it is safe and warm.

But them salmon keep a runnin’!

And them bills keep a comin’!

So out my net does go.

These waves come a crashin’

O’er my bow

And slap me in my face

I taste the salt

Upon my lips

And ponder ‘bout my fate.

But “keep fishin!” says I!

It’s do or die

Its now, I must keep my faith

And low and behold

What the sea does unfold

A king as big as I!

So I set out again!

And fight with the wind

This struggle to keep alive.

And the riggin’ is singin’

Yet in my head is a ringin’

“Something here just don’t jive.”

But if this day looks bleak

By the end of the week

This tide is sure to change.

I’ll stick n I’ll stay!

And I’ll make ‘er pay!

The hour be not too late.

So keep fishin’ I must!

Or this season, a bust!

Then I’d be the one

To pay.

Cuz’ the ocean, you see,

Is intertwined with me

As the same salt runs through our veins.

And I need her

As she needs me

And so I go out

Fishin’ again.

I don't remember all the poems done last night, but I"ll share what I can.  Rob's was about riding a 5 gallon bucket: Those rodeo guys got nothin' on me, I"ve rode a 5 gallon bucket in 40 foot seas! And when the boat rocks port to starboard you get a bit drenched, just like those toilets, designed by the French. 

If you want to take a gander at other performers and what they are up to, there is an anthology of FPG songs, poems and stories called "In the Tote" put together by Pat Dixon,  Or, click here to check out last year's venue  A lot of the perfomers have Cd's and books out, these will be for sale during the weekend.  My buddy Steve, has some great poems on his CD titled Give a Dollar to the Sea: Poetry and Songs of Alaskan Fisherpoet Steve M Schoonmaker and can be reached at

Next week, I'll be able to post some of the high lights, and maybe the low lights of the weekend.  And, will also resume work on the Egg.  Catch ya on the flip side!ea through vivid and powerful poetry. Discover what truly inspires this colorful community on the brink of extinction