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2009 Is 12th Annual Fisher Poets Gathering

Media Contact: Florence Sage

Dated: February 1, 2009
Detailed program and updates are posted on the website during February as they become available: A developing list of 2009 participants is available on the website under "Schedule."

The Fisher Poets Gathering (FPG) is again expecting more than 70 fishing and maritime industry people from several states and British Columbia to bring their original poems, stories and songs to Astoria. This year's event is on February 27, 28 and March 1. Along with several local music groups who also have strong fishing-industry ties, they will present their readings and music at this 12th annual two-evening program.

"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.

Four downtown Astoria venues offer reading space, so a good number of fans can join the lively ambiance of the event as audience, said Florence Sage of Astoria, a 12-year 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 fishing and making a living at sea.

For FPG 2009, the Baked Alaska restaurant (foot of 12th Street) joins the Astoria Event Center (9th and Commercial), the Wet Dog Cafe (foot of 11th St.) and the VooDoo Room at the Columbian Theater (11th and Marine Dr.) as a reading venue Friday and Saturday evenings, beginning at 5 p.m. The popular "VooDoo Mike," a fishermen's hosted open mike, is in the intimate VooDoo Room both evenings from 7 p.m. The VooDoo Room also hosts late-night music both nights. Documentaries of fishing-industry issues are planned at the Columbian Theater both days from 3:15 p.m. Evening reading venues all have food and drink service. All venues are donated.

"We have a wealth of talent," Sage said. "The program is tight again this year, so we're starting earlier at 5 p.m., and long-timers have given up coveted extra reading slots to make room for newcomers. Anyone contacting us now is being offered time at the VooDoo Mike, which has some flex."

Dozens of this year's fisher poets have appeared at the Gathering over all or most of its 12 years, including local favorites, event founder Jon Broderick of Cannon Beach OR, Smitty Smith of Long Beach 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. Some are 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 and worker industries. All FPG presenters come as volunteers.

A showing at the Columbian Theater of two documentaries on fishing-related issues opens the Gathering Friday from 3:15 to 4:45 p.m., and repeats Saturday at the same time. "Red Gold" was made by two young independent filmmakers, Ben Knight and Travis Rummel of Teluride, CO, with support from Trout Unlimited. The film shows their descent by boat from the headwaters of the Nushagek River to Bristol Bay AK. This award-winning film shows the native and commercial life threatened by Pebble Mine, the large industrial project proposed for location at the headwaters of two rivers that feed the famous fishing grounds in Bristol Bay. The second film is "Crossroads on the Columbia," completed this month in a special FPG edition, and presented by co-producer Donna Quinn of Astoria. This short documentary, co-produced by Quinn and Spence Palermo of Eugene, explores the impact that proposed large Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) projects would have on the lower Columbia River and its fishing community.

Saturday morning's six workshops run from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 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's planned workshop choices: at CRMM, a showing and discussion of the film "Red Gold"; a slide show of fishermen and their environment with emphasis on photography technique; a hands-on session, "Fundamentals of Knots and Lines"; a presentation on the current fish market; at Baked Alaska, song writing and memoir writing. 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, and pre-workshop breakfasts are available at Pier 39's Coffee Girl cafe and at Baked Alaska restaurant.

The very popular afternoon Story Circle of adventures from the memories of "old hands" – coastguardsmen, fishermen and mariners – will be held at the Astoria Event Center Saturday from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. Several long-timers tell unwritten tales of their unforgettable moments at sea.

A live auction runs onsite between sets at two locations during the evening programs, featuring certificates for special area lodgings and restaurants, fishing trips, cases of fish, and framed prints, all "sold" from the stage by Broadus MT auctioneer and fisherman, Curt Olson.

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

Event buttons are available Friday and Saturday from 3:00 p.m. through both evenings at the Columbian Theater box office; during the Saturday morning workshops at the Maritime Museum and Baked Alaska; Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning during the events at the Astoria Event Center.

Buttons are available for a $10 donation for the weekend, or $5 for one day or event. Enamel patron pins are also available to help support the gathering. There is no other entry donation for FPG. Last reading at Cannon Beach Arts Association gallery Sunday afternoon does not require a button. An FPG Gear Shack stocks performers' books, CDs, DVDs, and FPG gear at the Astoria Bicentennial Office near Baked Alaska restaurant. Gear Shack hours are expected to be 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, and noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday. All donations from buttons, patron pins, CDs, books, gear, other memorabilia and grants support on-site audio costs and small travel stipends for readers and musicians.

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, with contributions of services, goods and panel members from local and regional organizations and businesses, as noted in the annual program. But otherwise it is a community venture put together by a small committee of volunteers. The 2009 production committee consists of: Jon and Doreen Broderick and Michael Burger, all of Cannon Beach OR, David Campiche of Seaview WA, Lorrie Haight of Long Beach WA, Hobe Kytr and Florence Sage of Astoria OR, and Jay Speakman of Gearhart OR. Venues are donated. Major grantors have included Cannon Beach Arts Association and the Patricia Freeland Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation.

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 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 by New York documentary filmmaker Jen Winston, called "Fisher Poets," which has been shown by invitation at several film festivals.

KMUN-FM has broadcast the Friday and Saturday evening program from the Wet Dog Cafe all 12 years of the Gathering. This includes "streaming live" over the web around the world 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.

The detailed program and updates are posted on the website during February as they become available

Page Last Modified: February 10, 2009 [AG] .
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