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.
ANCHORED IN DEEP WATER:
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.
Patrick Dixon and Chelsea Stephen