The 11th Annual Gathering of the Fisher Poets will be held in Astoria, Oregon, on February 22-24. For a schedule and a map, please click on the above link. You’ll also find a list of readers, a description of all the workshops, and the list of venues. The organizers have added a fourth venue this year, which gives the impression that the gathering is gearing up to be bigger and better than ever.
The commercial fishing industry is unique in that it is especially full of talented writers, poets, and musicians. I’m trying to keep this post short, so I won’t go into my theory as to why that is. Needless to say, about 70 people with ties to the industry will be presenting orginal poems, stories, and songs over the weekend. In addition, there will be a variety of workshops (ranging from boat and cannery tours to songwriting), a story circle, and a live auction. Fisher Poets gear and memorabilia will be available for purchase.
In addition to the exciting news that special guest Ray Troll will be in attendance, I was happy to read that some longtime participants have stepped aside to allow more newcomers time to read their work. I did notice a few missing names from the roster as I scanned the schedule, and I imagine this explains why.
I won’t have the pleasure of attending the Festival this year (I’m fairly certain that 2-year olds and infants aren’t allowed inside the VooDoo Lounge), but I have a word of advice for first-time attenders: Bring your friends!
Fisher Poets venues fill quickly and one can feel lost and overwhelmed if not anchored to a group of one’s own. Tables become crowded with friends and comrades that meet year after year, and it can get quite clique-oriented. One year I actually watched one well-known individual get up from his table to leave early because he felt overwhelmed by it all.
Each year has been different for me; I’ve shown up and had lunch with locals, hustled up writing jobs, chatted with friends of my dad’s, participated in workshops, and caught up with fishing friends from my summers in Southeast Alaska. I’ve also ended my participation early and hurried to cross the bridge out of Astoria to meet up with friends in Long Beach instead.
I’d go every year if I could, though. Anytime you have the opportunity, you have got to support the industry and celebrate the art and culture that comes from within. You can see your old friends, or you can meet new ones.
If you attend the Festival this year, have a great time and let us know how it was.