As a creative English major turned fishing news editor, I was really excited the first time I heard about the FisherPoets Gathering.
Being an industry outsider, I never thought about fishing and art mixing in any way, shape or form. Not that I thought the two couldn’t go hand in hand; I had just never experienced it.
Boy, do fishermen crank out some beautiful words!
I first attended a FisherPoets reading at Pacific Marine Expo back in November and loved it. I didn’t attend the annual gathering in Astoria, Ore., unfortunately, but there are some great photos of the event on the FisherPoets website and from the local media.
Over 95 poets took to the stage during the gathering and many of them were new to the scene.
Corey Arnold, a Portland-based photographer who has worked with National Fisherman, added a new element to the gathering, projecting photos and video he had gathered from the back of his pick-up truck at the side of a gallery building.
While reading about the gathering is no supplement for being there and listening to all of the poetry, there is one poem posted on the website that really sums up what these poets are all about.
The poem, titled “Where We’re From,” is a collaborative poem by the attendees. Bits and pieces of a lot of individual and group poems were combined to create this one.
Where We’re From
We’re from the Sears catalogue
with only three choices,
from frosted flakes and Icy Straits.
We’re the coast plains, the Delaware River,
train whistles, and fog horns in the night.
We’re from the smokehouse out at Chenega,
tidepools, salmon berries and glistening sweat, a live net
of flotsam and jetsam. We’re from Québécois,
meatballs, ice cold glasses of coca cola,
white elephants and gnarled-up hands. We’re from
traders and travelers, standing up straight,
thrifty and sensible ones, the good group
that puts down roots. We’re: hold your horses,
clean your plate, trust no one, and help your sister.
We’re from Lutheran potlucks, holy water
washing hands clean, the people who turned left,
and prayed about it. We’re from
tide-water Virginia, spaghetti, sour dough
French bread, sugar plums and pickled herring.
From Friday nights in Buffalo, the dance where out parents met,
we’re sin, and soiled women, and the cold swim dad took.
We’re from men who don’t cry in public,
from Edna Bay where photos and dusty books still sit.
We’re scrapbooks with black pages,
our origins long forgotten,
the last of our kin and kind.