2011 is 14th Annual FisherPoets Gathering

The FisherPoets Gathering will take place Feb. 25 to 27, 2011 in Astoria OR.

Program updates are posted on the website during February as volunteer commitments are confirmed and details become available: A developing list of 2011 FPG participants is available on the website under "Schedule." For photos contact Maxwell PR, Portland OR; or photographer Patrick Dixon.

The Fisher Poets Gathering (FPG) is expecting a record number of more than 80 fishing and maritime industry people from several states and British Columbia to bring their original poems, stories and songs to Astoria. Along with several local musicians who also have strong fishing-industry ties, they will present their readings and music at this 14th annual weekend program, February 25 to 27.

"Fisher Poetry" comes from experiences living and working in the industry, and ranges in writing style from fast-moving rhyming couplets to crafted free verse or literary prose, and includes poems, songs, short stories, personal memoirs and essays, along with art.

A fifth downtown Astoria evening venue is added this year to offer extra reading space, so a good number of fans can comfortably join the lively ambiance of the event as audience, said Florence Sage of Astoria, a long-term FPG producer. Audience comes from the local area, the northwest region and points around the country to hear these original writings and oral accounts based on the hard-working vocation of commercial fishing and making a living at sea.

"We have our usual abundance of talent," Sage said. "We’ve added yet one more reading venue this year to accommodate more reading times for our fisher poets and make more room for audience, and this year a sixth venue, Clemente's (12th & Commercial), runs concurrent special events. Every venue will have a good program going on, so move around or just take your pick. As for audience numbers, in 2010 we ran out of 1200 buttons over the weekend, so we've made more. We also have single-entry door cards for the first time, for those who just want to catch one event."

Reading and music venues Friday and Saturday evenings beginning at 5:15 p.m. are: the Baked Alaska restaurant (foot of 12th Street), Astoria Event Center (9th & Commercial), the VooDoo Room at the Columbian Theater (11th & Marine Dr.) and the Wet Dog Cafe (foot of 11th St.). This year, the brewing room at the Fort George Brewery & Public House (14th & Duane) also hosts FPG evening readings and music, from 6 p.m. Friday and 5:15 p.m. Saturday. Clemente’s Friday anti-Pebble Mine “awareness” event begins at 6 p.m.

The popular "VooDoo Mike," a hosted open mike for poems, stories and songs, with priority to commercial fishing people, is in the intimate VooDoo Room at the Columbian Theater (11th and Marine Dr.) both afternoons from 3:45 to 5 p.m. The VooDoo Room also hosts late-night music both nights. Clemente's plans a new community open mike at FPG Saturday evening, starting at 8 p.m., followed by a music concert at 10.

Documentaries of fishing-industry matters and people are planned at the Columbian Theater both days from 3:45 to 5 p.m.

Evening reading venues all have food and drink service. Minors are permitted in Baked Alaska all evening, not in VooDoo Room, other venues until 9 or 10 p.m. All venues are donated.

Dozens of this year's fisher poets have appeared at the Gathering over all or most of its years, including local favorites, event founder Jon Broderick of Cannon Beach OR, Geno Leech of Chinook, WA, Jay Speakman of Gearhart OR, Dave Densmore and Hobe Kytr of Astoria OR. This year readers and musicians gather again from cities and also remote towns in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Maryland, Rhode Island, Arkansas and Florida. This year adds readers from Arizona and the Maine and Massachusetts fishing industries, and several new faces from other states. Some fisher poets are now retired from the industry, but most are active, either fishing their local waters or traveling seasonally to fishing areas in Alaska. They are joined at the Gathering by a few invited readers from other maritime industries. All FPG presenters come to the Gathering as volunteers.

A showing at the Columbian Theater of commercial fishing-related films opens the Friday afternoon activities at 3:45 p.m., and repeats Saturday afternoon. They include Red Gold, about the threat to SW Alaska salmon rivers by the Pebble Mine project, and author and filmmaker Bill Carter’s Red Summer. The fight against Pebble Mine will be the focus of the Friday evening “awareness” event at Clemente's restaurant, where Carter will be reading from his salmon-fishing memoir, Red Summer. Clemente's is owned by a fourth-generation commercial fishing family.

Saturday morning's workshops run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Columbia River Maritime Museum (CRMM) at the foot of 17th St, and Baked Alaska restaurant at the foot of 12th St. This year writing workshops predominate: writing of songs, haiku, poetry, and critique of poems-in-progress. Two slide shows fill out the workshops: crabber Corey Arnold’s slides of photos from his new book, Fishwork: The Bering Sea, and famed Ketchikan AK artist Ray Troll’s “fin art” from his new book, Something Fishy This way Comes.

Also on Saturday morning, "Dangerous Dave" Densmore's fishing boat, the Cold Stream, moored at Pier 39, foot of 39th St., is open for visits from 9 a.m. to noon. Also at Pier 39, former Hanthorne Cannery museum is open for a self-guided tour, and Coffee Girl cafe again puts on a special breakfast.

The very popular afternoon Story Circle of commercial fishing adventures from the memories of "old fishing hands" and occasional younger voices will be at the Astoria Event Center Saturday from 2 to 3:45 p.m. The story circle tells unwritten tales, mostly true, of unforgettable moments at sea.

A silent auction runs onsite at the FPG Gear Shack & bookstore, featuring certificates for special area lodgings and restaurants, fishing-related and other goods and services, all donated by local businesses.

FPG events come to a close in Astoria Sunday with a 9:30 a.m. ecumenical Gospel Sing at the Astoria Event Center, followed at 10 a.m. by the Readers' Farewell Mike. FPG audience is welcome. Breakfast is available onsite. A Sunday 3 p.m. invited reading by several of the FPG several poets at Cannon Beach Arts Association gallery completes the 2011 Gathering.

Event buttons are available Friday and Saturday from 3:30 p.m. through both evenings at the Columbian Theater box office; during programs at the reading venues; at the Saturday morning workshops; Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning during the events at the Astoria Event Center.

All donations from buttons, patron "Highliner" pins, sale of CDs, DVD's, books, gear, other memorabilia and grants support on-site audio costs and small travel stipends for readers and musicians. Buttons are available for a $15 donation for the weekend, Highliner pin for $30, tickets for single events $5. FPG 2011 is free to accompanied youth under 16. There is no other entry donation required for FPG. Last reading at Cannon Beach Arts Association gallery Sunday afternoon does not require a button.

The FPG store, the Gear Shack, stocks FPG performers' books, CDs, DVDs, and FPG gear. Proceeds from sale of performers' creative materials go entirely to the authors. Gear Shack hours are expected to be 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, and noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday.

The Fisher Poets Gathering has been an annual event in Astoria in the last weekend of February since 1998.

The Gathering has been given substantial support every year by Clatsop Community College, along with contributions of services, goods and panel members from local and regional organizations and businesses, as noted in the annual program and website. Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce assists with national and regional media contact. All venues are donated for the event.

Major grantors have included Cannon Beach Arts Association and the Patricia Friedland Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, and in 2011, The Clatsop & Oregon Cultural Coalition. Additional "Readerships" to assist several veteran FPG readers traveling from farthest away come from: Englund Marine, Fishhawk Fisheries, Salmon for All. Steve Allen of Wet Dog Cafe has contributed toward onsite sound management. Local volunteers help with buttons, book and gear sales and the silent auction, and Fisher Poets themselves contribute talent and onsite assistance.

Fisher Poets Gathering is primarily a community venture put together by a small committee of volunteers. The 2011 steering and production committee consists of: Jon and Doreen Broderick of Cannon Beach, Hobe Kytr and Florence Sage of Astoria, Jay Speakman of Gearhart, and Christy Phillips-Matlock of Svensen, OR.

This popular event has grown in audience and fame over the years. It has been designated a Library of Congress Local Legacies project, and been the subject of many local, regional and national news articles and productions, including Wall Street Journal, Oregon Art Beat, NBC's Today Show and The Smithsonian magazine. It is the subject of a documentary filmed over several years of the Gathering called "Fisher Poets," which has been shown by invitation at several film festivals, and individual Fisher Poets are often invited to read at other events.

Community radio station KMUN-FM broadcasts the Friday and Saturday evening program from the Astoria Event Center. This includes "streaming live" over the web at KMUN also recorded and produced a CD of the 2008 evening program from the Wet Dog Cafe as a fundraiser for FPG, available at the Gathering and from the website.

Information about Astoria area lodging is provided by the Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce: 503-325-6311, The Chamber is also available to assist visitors without web access.

Updates are posted on the website during February as the volunteer performers’ and workshop leaders’ commitments are confirmed and details become available:

Media Contact: Florence Sage

Clatsop Community College is an affirmative action, equal opportunity institution.


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