Wesley "Geno" Leech at Wet Dog Café, Astronia, OR. Photo: Jens Lund, February 26, 1999
Astoria Fisher Poets Gathering
after the popular and successful Cowboy Poets Gathering in
Elko, Nevada, the Fisher Poets Gathering provides a venue
for the artistic and literary expressions of members of the
West Coast fishing community. Notices published in Alaska
Fishermen's Journal and Pacific Fishing magazine drew
responses throughout the Pacific Coast and as far away as
the Midwest. More than 250 people bought festival buttons
at $5 apiece to attend the first gathering, organized by volunteers,
The event's inspiration comes from the long-held tradition of
communication by radio among fisher folk of the Pacific region.
Poems, stories, songs, and instrumental music are shared through
this medium during the often lonely hours spent on the water.
Themes range from sea stories to the endangered Columbia River
salmon and other environmental issues. Not limited to poets,
participation extends to anyone with a connection to maritime
activity. Poets come from Alaska, British Columbia, the West
and the Midwest, adding to the strong contingent from the
Columbia Pacific region of Oregon and Washington.
Astoria, founded in 1811, is believed to be the oldest American settlement
west of the Rockies. With the development of the salmon canning
industry during the 1860s, Astoria soon became known as the
"Salmon Canning Capital of the World." Although the creation
of the federal hydropower system on the Columbia River has
led to a virtual elimination of the salmon fishery, Astoria
is still a fishing town in many respects. The Fisher Poets
Gathering takes place on the working waterfront of Astoria,
which was once lined with canneries, receiving stations, net
lofts, and fleets of gillnet boats tied up with pulleys to
decks that are outfitted with net-racks. For the past several
years, the town has emerged as a cultural destination for
tourists. A riverfront walk connects museums with packing
houses. Along that riverfront walkway, directly across from
offloading fishing boats, is the Wet Dog Café, Astoria's first
brewpub and the principal venue for the Fisher Poets Gathering.
includes a text report; 15 photographs; brochures; an audiocassette;
newspaper articles; and an anthology of poems, Salt in
Our Veins, from the first gathering.
Originally submitted by: David Wu, Representative.
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.