FisherPoets Live on Kickstarter!

Fish­ing, sto­ries, cul­ture, com­mu­nity, authen­tic­ity… These are some of my favorite things, and they all come together in the Fish­er­Po­ets Anthol­ogy, Anchored in Deep Water. My friends Pat Dixon and Chelsea Stephen have done a tremen­dous job cre­at­ing and edit­ing this project over the past year, and have just launched a Kick­starter cam­paign to fund print­ing. Thanks for read­ing their let­ter below and sup­port­ing this project in what­ever ways you’re able.


The Fish­er­po­ets Anthology

Com­mer­cial fish­ing is an indus­try in the midst of extreme change. Many of the tra­di­tional fish­eries of the 20th cen­tury have already dis­ap­peared due to con­flicts over allo­ca­tion, the degra­da­tion of habi­tat and the advent of tech­nol­ogy. Many of the old tech­niques and meth­ods are gone or are fast drift­ing out with the tide. The Fish­er­Po­ets Gath­er­ing, an annual event at the end of each Feb­ru­ary in Asto­ria, Ore­gon for the past 17 years, has been a way for fish­er­men them­selves to chron­i­cle these changes and the attend­ing issues and the sto­ries they inspire. The Gath­er­ing brings together scores of writ­ers, poets and musi­cians each year to per­form their work cel­e­brat­ing the com­mer­cial fish­ing indus­try through­out the United States and abroad on the stages of Astoria’s tav­erns, restau­rants, muse­ums and art gal­leries. Cov­ered by such respected pub­li­ca­tions as the NY Times and Smith­son­ian mag­a­zine, the Gath­er­ing con­tin­ues to enter­tain and attract audi­ences because the world it describes is a myth­i­cal place for so many peo­ple. Cre­at­ing an anthol­ogy of the writ­ings of fish­er­men and women is to cre­ate a unique and sig­nif­i­cant record of com­mer­cial fishing’s his­tory and cul­ture. It is one impor­tant way to pre­serve their voices.

Patrick Dixon and Chelsea Stephen have edited and designed Anchored in Deep Water: The Fish­er­po­ets Anthol­ogy, seven books of orig­i­nal poetry, songs and sto­ries writ­ten by com­mer­cial fish­er­men and women who have per­formed at the Fish­er­po­ets Gath­er­ing. This is the first com­pre­hen­sive col­lec­tion of fish­er­po­etry in over a decade. While this printed anthol­ogy can only pro­vide a glimpse of the spo­ken word per­for­mances at the event itself, the books cat­a­logue a rich his­tory of the event and of the com­mer­cial fish­ing indus­try itself. The books are the­mat­i­cally orga­nized: Every Boat Has a Wave deals with risk and sur­vival at sea; Illu­sions of Sep­a­rate­ness deals with the pol­i­tics and envi­ron­ment of the fish­ing world; Mak­ing Waves is filled with sto­ries by and about women in the fish­ery; Gath­er­ing chron­i­cles the com­mu­nity and cama­raderie inher­ent in com­mer­cial fish­ing; Fam­ily Dynamic speaks to the fam­ily issues com­mer­cial fish­ing inspires; For the Love of Fish chron­i­cles the rea­sons fish­er­men go to sea; and the final book, Mend­ing Holes, which is still in the works, is about the his­tory of com­mer­cial fishing.

Nearly 40 writ­ers are rep­re­sented in the anthol­ogy, from Mass­a­chu­setts, Rhode Island and Maine on the east coast to Alaska, Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon and Cal­i­for­nia in the west. One poet hails from Hawaii, another from Japan. Sev­eral of the writ­ers have work in mul­ti­ple books. (Visit In The Tote for a list of con­tribut­ing Fish­er­Po­ets.) Each book is 50+ pages long, with orig­i­nal cover designs cre­ated by Port­land, Ore­gon artist Chelsea Stephen and pho­tographs by fish­er­poet pho­tog­ra­pher Patrick Dixon. The books will be made avail­able singly or as a com­plete “boxed” (more like a sleeve) set.

We are seek­ing fund­ing for the print­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion costs of 300 copies of each book (that’s 2100 books) as well as 200 sleeves. We are offer­ing fine-art, archival prints as rewards with the books for larger donations.

We have until the end of April — that’s National Poetry Month — to reach our goal of $10,000. Whether you’re able to help by con­tribut­ing to the Anthol­ogy or by spread­ing the word among your com­mu­nity, we can’t do this with­out you. Please visit the Fish­er­Po­ets Anthol­ogy Kick­starter Cam­paign Page to enjoy our video (includ­ing appear­ances by sev­eral Anthol­ogy con­trib­u­tors.) Thanks so much for your help!

Patrick Dixon and Chelsea Stephen

FisherPoets Gathering 2014
Thanks from all of us! (Photo by Pat Dixon)


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