As season openers loom and fishermen and women across the bay region prepare boats and nets, some of them will tell stories of springs past. Others — more than you might think — are writing poetry.
At the annual FisherPoet Gathering in Astoria, Ore., this past winter, Jon Broderick, the gathering's so-called founding father, enjoyed the company and poetry of over 90 commercial fishermen and women.
Broderick, a Bristol Bay setnetter for nearly thirty years, has been drawn to writing for a long time, especially to writing that deals with the labor of his hands.
"I was always interested in work, and in writing about work. Work seemed as fertile a subject as romance, which most people tend to write about," Broderick said.
Broderick, who seined in Kodiak and then drifted in Southeast with his wife, thought he'd gotten out of fishing when he had kids, sold the permit and became a schoolteacher in Oregon.
But after a tip from a friend, Broderick rejoined the fishing industry with a setnet operation on the Nushagak. This time, the whole family got involved. Meanwhile, Broderick continued to teach and to write about fishing. He knew that he wasn't the only fisherman who was writing, because the editor of Alaska Fisherman's Journal, John van Amerongen, regularly published poetry alongside articles on the industry.
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