Written by Jen Finn
March 28, 2014
The stories of your life
As an editor and a writer, my greatest joy is finding a story. Once I get a glimmer of a good yarn, I'm like a dog with a bone, and I'll do anything to get at it. I consider myself extremely lucky that my work dovetails with an industry so full of fascinating tales, great and small. American fishermen have a long and rich history of storytelling. The work-song chanteys of Atlantic menhaden fishermen are steeped in their African heritage. But long before those men sang rhymes to pass the time and muster the strength to muscle the next set from the water, seagoing merchant mariners sang work songs to ease labor pains aboard antebellum clipper ships.
The annual FisherPoets Gathering in Astoria, Ore., continues the tradition of storytelling seafarers. The gathering was born in 1998 after many years of excited rumblings throughout the West Coast's fishing and creative writing community. Founder, fisherman and Astoria resident Jon Broderick resists taking credit for anything but the first phone call to none other than John van Amerongen, then the editor of Alaska Fisherman's Journal.
Since the first gathering of fisherpoets, the event has expanded to several venues and even includes cameos of the regulars at industry events year-round. Read more about that first phone call and all that would follow in Sierra Golden's profile of the 17th FisherPoets event on page 24.
Also in the 17 intervening years, van Amerongen — or Van Am, as he's affectionately known — moved over to a post at Trident Seafoods. For the last four years, he has been lovingly laboring over the story of the company's founder, Chuck Bundrant. Roger Fitzgerald, who worked with Van Am at the Journal, introduces an excerpt from the book, "Catching a Deckload of Dreams: Chuck Bundrant and the Story of Trident Seafoods" on page 6.
Field Editor Kirk Moore has been one of our own great storytellers for many years. On page 28, he profiles New Jersey fisherman Eric Svelling, who has rebuilt his family boat the Native Sun four times — and that doesn't include his full participation in the original building project, which began in January 1985. Svelling fished the boat with his father, George, who passed away in 2012 but still has a unique position at the helm.
I hope you enjoy these and all of the stories that it is our pleasure to share with you every month, and daily online at NationalFisherman.com. There's a reason our name is National Fisherman and not National Fishing. We believe the heart of this industry is in the people. And our hearts are always with you, at sea and onshore.
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