Friday, February 22, 2013

16th Annual Fisher Poets Gathering, Astoria Oregon

I made it!  We made it! We all made it.  The snow in Denver subsided just long enough for me to catch my flight to Portland, Oregon for my third year at Fisher Poets.  At the Portland airport, I met up with fellow Fisher Poets Ron McDaniel and Steve Schoonmaker.  I asked Steve if he was ready for this opener, this weekend of song, celebration, and drink sometimes feels like a fishing opener.  As soon as we cast our first story, its three days of no sleep, just go, go, go.

This year is our second year making the now annual pilgramage  from Portland to Astoria together.  It started with Steve and I talking about carpooling last year.   Then I saw an add on Facebook that the Cowboy needed a lift.  Ron, Fisher Poet's token Cowboy, was going to hitchhike the hour and half journey, but his wife was afraid that someone would pick him up just to steal his leather boots and toss him aside.  With that, our little tradition of splitting the fuel and catching up along the way was born.
Ron and Jen's work boots.
Astoria's local paper, The Astorian, generously  printed out this years schedule in the Thursday's edition of coast Weekend. Also HIPFISHmonthy, Astoria's local alternative paper featured FPs on their cover.

HIPFISHmonthy's cover

Camaraderie out the Wazoo
I love that, "Camaraderie out the Wazoo!" Camaraderie is defined as "a spirit of friendly good fellowship". That really sums up the heart of this event and why I love it so much.  For me, its not getting up on stage and performing my poems, that isn't fun, that's terrifying.  But I do it to belong this specific group of fishermen, fishermen who write.   They seem understand my poems because they have all, at one time or another, lived them too.  And I, theirs.  You can see it on their faces, from the grimace at the mention of jellyfish in the eye, to the nod of recognition of bring in a deckload.  We have all had our own triumphs and tregedies on the sea, some bigger than others.  And to be with a group of folks like that all weekend is like coming home.

 Pat Dixon goofing off with Ron's hat last night at the welcome dinner.

Friday, February 15, 2013

16th Annual Fisher Poets Gathering in Astoria, Oregon

Next weekend, February 22-24, 2013 is the 16th Annual Fisher Poets Gathering!  The gathering is an annual event where men and women tied to the commercial fishing industry get together and share tales, song, stories, and poems in celebration of making a living on the sea.  The event takes place every year, the last weekend in February in the coastal town of Astoria, Oregon which is a fishing town rich in maritime history.

Astoria's water front photo by Motoya Nakamura/The Oregonian

Fisher Poets Gathering was founded by fisherman and poet Jon Broderick in 1998 and began with a few folks meeting in a pub sharing stories and sea shanties.  Sixteen years later, FPs are still meeting in a pub, or more accurately, pubs but has expanded to about 70 poets from 11 different states coast to coast, including one token cowboy from Arkansas.  Slinging songs and spouting poetry happens at the Wet Dog, Voodoo Room, Clemente's, Baked Alaska, KALA Gallery, Fort George Brewery and the Astoria Event Center.  KMUN, the local radio station covers FPs from 6:00-10:00 pm (Pacific Time) both Friday and Saturday night.  Tune in to 91.9 FM or stream on the web at:  

Jon Broderick photo by Motoya Nakamura/The Oregonian

During the day you can choose from having coffee with fisher poet Dave Densmore on board his boat, to workshops on creative writing, photography, to political discussions on ocean acidification or the threat of Pebble Mine, to listening to stories of the one that got away. You can even buy FPs memorabilia or your favorite poet's book or CDs at the gearshack.  More information along with this year's schedule can be found at the Fisher Poets website: Fisher Poets.

Dave Densmore photo by Motoya Nakamura/The Oregonian

Fisher poet and photographer Pat Dixon has done a whiz bang job over the years capturing us FPs with his camera.  His collection is called In the Tote.  Just click the link to see snap shots of us on stage along with some of our writings.

2012 Fisher Poets photo by Pat Dixon

There are some great reads out now covering the event. Check back, I'll post more as the come in this weekend.  Last year a few of us were interviewed for  Oregon Art Watch Astoria Fisher Poets Festival The NY Times did a piece a few years ago : For a Weekend, Fishermen Measure Haul in Verse.  The most recent is a wonderful photo essay from last year's FPs that came out last week on line at Portland's own The Oregonian:  And here is the follow up stories along with those photos: Salty Poets of the Sea.

Jen Pickett photo by Motoya Nakamura/The Oregonian

As some of you may know, this will be my 3rd year performing at Fisher Poets and I can't wait!  Its such a special time for me to hear some great stories and to see all my fishing buddies again.  I'm all abuzz polishing up my Xtra-Tufs, rehearsing my lines and practicing my stories without any curse words, which is hard for a fisherman like myself.  Speaking of, I'd better get back to it!

My cleanest fishing boots photo by Motoya Nakamura/The Oregonian

See you in Astoria!

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Humpy

Rumor has it, many of you thought I fell off the radar. You'd swing by my blog, hoping for a fresh read and there was nothing.  You got skunked.  Found nothing but an old Holiday Recipes post from way back in December, and that was even rehashed from last holiday season.   I owe you an apology and I'm sorry.  I guess I did fall off the radar.   Turns out, Columbus was wrong.  The world isn't round, its flat and I fell right over the edge.  But no worries, dear reader, only just slightly worse for the wear, PickFish is back!  As my buddy Steve would say, for be reals this time.  Or should I say reels? I know, lame joke.  Don't worry, that's my only one and that one is included in the price.  Did I mention worse for the wear?

Anyway, after being chased down and nearly accosted by readers and by one cowboy, in particular (okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, on which part, you decide) wondering why they are not getting updates of my blog in their in-boxes,  I thought for my own safety, I'd better slide my boots on, climb into my raingear, pull the anchor and get my net wet.  Or in other non-fishermen speak, post a blog.  I mean, a reader can only take so many skunks. (And to be sure I bridge the gap for you non-fishy readers, a skunk is when a fishermen sets his net and gets nothing, no fish, no nada, zilcho, zero, a water haul).  If nothing else, I had to write another blog just to get that cowboy off my back.

Speaking of cowboys, its almost that time of year again for the 16th Annual Fisher Poets Gathering in Astoria OR.  Its coming right up Feb 22-24.  You can find out more information here at, and you can even follow us on Twitter at FisherPoets. For those wondering what cowboys and fishermen have in common, the answer is nothing, but there is one token cowboy at Fisher Poets, Ron McDaniel.  Now I'm not sayin he
is the cowboy on my back for not writing,  I'm was just sayin' there was a cowboy on my back for not writing. And though he claims not to truly belong at FPs, because he is a cowboy, he has killed at least one fish commercially, so, whether he likes to admit it or not, he's just as ruined as the rest of us.  I mean, he legitimately qualifies as a Fisher Poet.  But I got off course.  Ready or not, dear reader,  its time for PickFish make another set and post another blog.

Now, the big question is what write about after so many months of being away.  The pressure is on.  You guys and gals have been patiently waiting for me to return and I'm sure you have certain expectations.  I mean, you probably think that I have been diligently writing this whole time and will return with some big catch, a monster halibut perhaps. You know one of those record breakers that barely fits into the back of a pick up truck?  I'd hate to disappoint.  I mean, you probably think that maybe I've been taking writing courses, poetry lessons, or even been working on my book.  Seriously, what else would I be doing for so many months? Again, I'm sorry dear reader.  I hate to be the one to tell you this, but if that's what you thought, you'd be wrong.  In reality, I got nothing.  I've been a total slacker.  Dead weight, drag, a water haul, as useful as flotsam and jetsam.  You are expecting monster halibut and here I am, I show up with a humpy.  And a spawned out one at that. You think I was off doing grand things and really, I just went out on deck to take a pee and fell overboard.  With my fly unzipped, to top things off  I mean, how glamorous is that?

But a few of you had faith that I was still out there afloat, somewhere.   You sent out a search party for me, sent me a life raft, told me to stop belly aching and to climb on in.  You gave me some hot chocolate, a little shot of whiskey, put a blanket around me and asked me if I was alright.  I nodded yes and you said Good. Now get your ass in gear and get back to writing.  Roger that.
And thanks Ron!