It’s the days when the mountains speak
and the sun’s poetry paints the sky
When the fish are thick and the ocean’s flat
and there’s not another boat in sight
And sure there’s days when the storms crash and thrash
and toss our boats around like toys
But thanks to a fisherman’s selective memory
our work is still our joy.
A Poem by Joel Brady-Power
Tele Aadesen is a commercial fisherwoman. Joel Brady-Power is her husband. Together they fish for salmon on the “Nerka” in the waters of Alaska. They have kindly given permission for use of Joel’s poem here. This weekend you will find them in Astoria, Oregon at the Fisher Poets Gathering that celebrates commercial fishing with poetry, song and prose on the last weekend in February every year since 1998 which Tele describes as “the best weekend of the year.”
This event started out as a low-key reunion for fisher friends in the commercial fishing fleet. 100 commercial fishing poets, storytellers and songwriters from the west and east coasts now gather in Astoria’s galleries, pubs and restaurants to read for each other and for the hundreds of enthusiastic fans that also attend. The FisherPoets Gathering website describes them as “authentic, creative voices of deckhands and skippers, cannery workers and shipwrights, young greenhorns and old-timers, strong women and good-looking men.”
The FisherPoets Gathering has gained national and even international notoriety in the New York Times, Smithsonian magazine, Wall Street Journal and on NBC and BBC and elsewhere. The U.S. Library of Congress recognizes this event as a “Local Legacy” project that has coined the phrase, “fisherpoetry.”
Performances of poetry, music and prose by Fisherpoets start at 4:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights in various places around town. On Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, there are workshops in four different locations including a variety of topics. There is a Story Circle on Saturday afternoon where Fisherpoets regale with colorful oral histories. Later there is a session of honest commercial fishing films. There are more events which you will discover when you pick up your event button ($15.00) that is good for admission all weekend long.
Astoria is a unique and very interesting place on its own. We have blogged about her and you can query “Astoria” in the search box to find those blogs.
Tales of the sea as told from the view of real commercial Fisherpoets. Songs of the sea, stories of the ocean and more. What a fun time for the whole family! Be sure and stop in and say hello to us at www.umpquahaven.com on your way to traveling the beautiful Oregon Coast up to Astoria. The scenery can’t be beat!
The commercial fishing fleet in Winchester Bay Oregon.