2018 Fisher Poets Gathering

2018 Fisher Poets Gathering

The 2018 Fisher Poets Gathering in Astoria, Oregon is always the best-timed event of the year. At this point in the winter, last summer’s fishing season seems far enough away that we’ve forgotten about the rough and tough days at sea that made us think hard about our decision to work on the water. February is the month when our memories slyly turn stormy seasick days into backdeck camaraderie and huge deckload days, and we dream of the upcoming season like the hopeless romantics that only fishermen are.

When we attend Fisher Poets we’re reminded of the strength and pride in our community of commercial fishermen, and leave reassured that there are many other people thinking about fish and boats and weather and tides and changes in the ocean and feeding the world and the heritage we share too. We’re inspired by the way every fishermen who stands up to read words they’ve written, articulates a the feelings about fishing we find sometimes hard to describe – the bittersweetness between feeling beat down and held up by the ocean, and the magnetism that draws us back each year despite all odds, to learn something about ourselves, or to prove something, or to feel connected to the ocean’s wild abundance.

Though there were too many magnificent moments to capture and performers to mention at Fisher Poets this year, here are a few of our favorites moments that we’d like to share and remember.

Bumble Bee Cannery - Astoria, OR

Wild salmon snacks at Bristol Bay workshop

The Strength of the Tides workshop, empowering females in the fishing industry

Downtime on the docks at Bouy Brewery and We Are Bristol Bay Stickers

Gyotaku fish printing workshop 

Downtown Astoria photo projection by Corey Arnold showcasing fishing in Bristol Bay

Rainy Day on the Columbia River

Bristol Bay workshop in Astoria's Heritage Museum

If you missed Fisher Poets this year, you can listen to interviews with some of the talented poets, artists and fishermen who performed this year.

And get inspired by some of the Fisher Poet's best: 





We leave you with a poem by Bristol Bay fisherman Maggie Bursch:

They Call Them Netmares 

The demons took me

When I was twelve and they made my dreams



I would beg them, but the salmon

Kept swimming into my room

My sister, sleeping soundly

With a flounder under head.


Panicked in my sinking bed

I searched for steering wheel

And throttle in the sheets,


Swearing and groping as the water rose

Until I’d wake her, and she’d wake me

And the waves dropped

Back to clothing on the floor.


Later I learned to wake myself

With water,

Wading through the waves

To the kitchen

Washing my face at the sink


Until the currents subsided

And the piles of net turned

Back into plywood under my legs.


I still sleep

With sockeye in my sheets


And jump out of bed

Telling everyone to get up now

The net is out and munched

And the waves are big and the water is shallow

And I can’t run this fucking boat alone.


Then I wake

And everyone is sleeping, And I

Am standing wide eyed and naked

In the cabin in my sweat.


And I remember then, the eyes of the fisherman

As he spits black in his beer can

“You’re a tough girl,

you could take a couple demons.”

Then he looks at me knowingly

far too long.


Mark you calendars for next year’s gathering (Feb 22-24, 2019) – and get writing!

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