First I have to ask Sierra Golden’s forgiveness for the pun. I could not resist. Golden’s collection of poems relating to her fishing life — whether she’s onshore or on deck — is little. In fact, it’s just the right size for a galley table or the front pocket of your backpack. But don’t let the size trick you into thinking it’s light reading. Golden fills her 55 pages with rich context, descriptive passages and even shorts that will let your imagination run like the flood tide.
This devotional to the fishing life is also golden in more than name. Each page turns with glimmers of the ways in which fishing life is full of natural beauty and abundance. Even the raw and cold comforts of fishing feel right here.
What I love most about this collection is that it screams to be read aloud, like all fisherpoetry. My favorite lines are from the poem “Winter Heat” on page 45:
“The dishes, my taxes, the mess I made with my exes. Seeing the sap-leaking stacks of wood as if for the first time, some part of me collapses.”
Like so much fisherpoetry, these lines and much of this book are not just about life at sea but about the whole life of a fisherman — a seasonal worker who leaves loved ones behind, though not entirely with sadness; a keen observer of life and death; a butcher; a handyman; a transient face in distant ports; a floating soul looking for the next place to tie a knot and land.
Golden was born in Alaska and raised in rural Washington. She worked on her father’s commercial fishing boat for almost a decade and started writing for NF around the same time I took over as editor. She was well-established as a fisherman, even in her 20s, and as a creative writer, as well. But I have had the pleasure to watch her grow as a journalist. She covers this industry with a clear eye and a passion for storytelling that makes my job so much easier and the magazines a better read for all of us.
I am thrilled to showcase one of Golden’s many other talents. Like so many of this industry’s devoted crew, she can do it all.