“Ode to Dead Salmon” Writing Contest!

15 07 2012

Calling all of Hooked’s fishy writer friends: it’s time for 49 Writers’ third annual “Ode to a Dead Salmon” writers contest! As are so many things Alaskan, this contest is a bit… different. They’re seeking your best WORST writing. Here are the details, re-printed from their site:

“Summer’s in full swing, the fish are running, and you know what that means: our hugely popular “Ode to a Dead Salmon” bad writing contest is back. Take a look at last year’s finalists, sharpen your pencils and follow that smell. We want your best worst writing, submitted to  49writingcenter@gmail.com by  July 31, 2012. This year sees the return of loyal judges Nancy Lord, Bill Sherwonit, and Ray Troll, so give ‘em your best.
The idea for the contest came originally from our 2008 interview with Nancy Lord. When Andromeda asked why she didn’t write immediately about her Alaskan experiences, Nancy said, “I think I was scared off, years ago, by something John Haines wrote in “The Writer as Alaskan”: a kind of condemnation that new-comers to Alaska always mined the same myths, ‘odes to dead salmon,’ and that it would take generations to develop a worthy Alaskan literature. I’d written a few odes to dead salmon and knew that I needed to get beyond the obvious.”
Since the contest was first launched, bad writing has streamed in from all over the world. We posted it all and let our readers vote. Past winners have garnered some great press, including a write-up in Alaska Magazine.
We want your best tongue-in-cheek “Ode to a Dead Salmon” bad Alaskan writing, poetry or prose, fiction or non. We’ll publish all entries at our Ode to a Dead Salmon webpage so the world can read them, and we’ll post the finalists here at 49 Writers. And yes, famed and fishy Alaskan artist Ray Troll has once again offered an autographed T-shirt of choice to our winner. But the main goal, of course, is to have fun.
The rules:
1.      Entries must conform to our editorial policy.
2.      We need your real name and real email address. If you want your entry to be posted under a pseudonym or left anonymous, make that clear in your email.
3.      No more than three entries per person.
4.      No more than 800 words per entry (shorter is just fine with us: limerick, haiku, opening lines).
5.      Entries must be your own original work.
6.      You keep the copyright but by entering you’re giving us permission to post.
7.      This is our contest. We make the rules (that’s the beauty of blogging, folks), and the rules may change as we see fit. We’ll let you know if they do.
8.      Entries must be emailed to 49writingcenter@gmail.com by midnight on July 31.”

Apologies for the bad form and consequent eye strain here, friends… We’re rushing to cut the lines and head out, and I can’t figure out why the paragraph breaks aren’t showing up. Thanks for forwarding this one on to anyone who might be interested; I hope to see some familiar names among this year’s submissions. Happy writing!





Through a New Troller’s Eyes: July’s King Opening

15 07 2012

It seems that my friend Marlin is destined  to have literary deckhands. After a string of memoirists and bloggers, one of this season’s hands is Paul, an MFA grad focused on creative writing and fiction.

Paul isn’t green: he’s crewed on another mutual friend’s gillnetter, and worked the slime line of a Southeast processing plant. But trolling is new – a different fishery, a different culture. Like so many of us who find our footing through writing, he hasn’t wasted any time in processing his experience on the page.

While I frittered this town time away with a blend of necessary chores and soul rejuvenating socializing, Paul got right to work. I found him in my favorite spot at the Backdoor Cafe – the highly coveted corner table “office.” Intent on his computer, he explained his project – a 1000-word piece about our king salmon opening, a new sort of “Blessing of the Fleet.”

Paul posted that piece on his blog that evening. I read it right away – jaw slightly agape, stunned at his ability to fictionalize our recent experience, creating new characters on recognizable boats, while maintaining absolutely authenticity to the core emotions, struggles, and rewards of our business. It’s a rich, sincere piece of creative writing that captures the heart of trolling beautifully. Do yourself a favor and read it.

Here’s the opening paragraph to pull you in:

“Opening day on the trolling grounds and a glassy ocean receives the fleet after their long, bucking ride up from Sitka.  Sometimes July on the Fairweather Grounds is like this, like old friends returning to each other. But this July there will be only three more days of good weather.  The other days it will blow. Westerlies, southwesterlies, white caps and swells, twenty five knots winds that come whipping off the open ocean through the trollers’ welded bait sheds making a sound like a locomotive humming in the near distance.  With the winds there is rain, there is usually rain even in calm seas. It does not storm, exactly, but mists, sometimes aggressively; it is never warm.”

Read the rest of “Blessing of the Fleet” here.

 

And that’s it for another few weeks, friends. Cap’n J and I are fueling up this morning, then heading back out for our first coho trip of the season. This is where the grind starts: we’ll stay out until the Nerka’s hold is full. Hopefully we’ll be back in touch in another 10 to 12 days. Until then, be safe and be well, friends. 

 

 





A Deckhand’s Challenges, Rewards & Proudest Moments: Letters from Amanda, Part 2

14 07 2012

Hey friends – if you’ve been following the story of Amanda, our first-time fisherman guest writer, you may be as eager for her latest update as I’ve been. The frenzied life of a tender deckhand hasn’t allowed much land time (and even less internet access), so we were very lucky to get a quick update from her in the comment thread following her first post. I’m publishing that comment as its own post so you don’t miss her latest. Be well - T

Thank you so much for all of your support all! I am so flattered that you are excited about what I have to say! It’s been about three weeks now and I’ve been so eager to respond to you all and to get another post out. This is the first time I’ve sat down at a computer for more than 5 minutes since I’ve been here. I currently have about a half hour, not enough time to produce a post that is written with the attention that it deserves. I’ve got pages of journals to turn over and will do so as soon as possible! I sincerely appreciate everything you’ve all had to say and wish I could respond to you all individually.

A few quick lists, I’ve got to get this out:

Biggest challenges: KNOTS!!@!!#$#@!, fish tickets and the simple but tedious math that goes along with, learning to sleep in only 3 hour increments, projecting a positive attitude when I secretly want to complain, not belittling myself internally when I mess up, forget, or have to be told and re-told something that seems so simple.

Biggest rewards: a wonderful crew of supportive individuals, cooking for people who are open to creativity and experimentation, endless mountain ranges and morning light, a day off at Baranof Warm Springs, the sheer amount of things to observe and take in, the massive amount of skills and information I’ve learned and will never forget, all the sources of inspiration.

Proudest moments: completing a 21 hour work day, lowering the anchor (using the hydraulics) for the first time, learning the language (the times are fewer and fewer when I look someone in the face after being asked to do something and say “I don’t understand the words that you just said”), finally being able to tell a Coho from a Sockeye from a Pink from a Dog, working a full day, cooking for three, cleaning the galley and sinking in to bed with an aching body and a nourished spirit.

More to come! Thanks and thanks again! Blessings to you all!

- Amanda

 





The Fish of our Labor: The Nerka Returns

13 07 2012

We’re back safe and sound, friends, and here they are – the first king salmon of our 2012 season!

We’ll take another day or two in Sitka before heading out to chase coho for the coming weeks, and I’m hoping to share some more detailed stories with you before we leave. Meanwhile, just wanted to let you all know we returned safely, and with a lot of gratitude. After a nine-day opening of mostly good weather, a well-behaved boat, excellent teamwork, and some very lucky calls on where to go, we’re feeling very fortunate. Thanks for your good wishes; hope all’s been good for you, too, over the past few weeks.





The Nerka’s First Seabound Sunrise of 2012

1 07 2012

Surprise, friends!

Happy July 1st – opening day of 2012′s first summer king salmon opening. If all’s as it should be today, Cap’n J leapt out of the bunk at 2:30 this morning, unable to contain himself a moment longer. Right now the good ship Nerka is hopefully slowly dragging her hooks through exactly the right spot of Southeast Alaska’s coastal waters, on a pleasant ocean, with lots of beautiful wild Alaskan king salmon to keep us busy.

Unless something goes terribly awry with the boat or us, we won’t be back to shore until after this opening closes – likely 8 to 10 days from now – so I can’t offer any current updates on how it’s looking out there. What I can do, thanks to WordPress’s handy scheduled publication option, is share a different first morning with you. The video below is from April 3, when Cap’n J and I headed out to Sitka Sound for our first day of winter king fishing. For two weeks, we had an amazing time; weather-wise, it was the best April that veteran winter king  trollers could remember. We’re ruined forever, left with a starry-eyed fantasy that it’ll surely be just as pleasant next year.

Hope you’re doing well, friends. If you want to follow our weather conditions, visit NOAA’s marine weather. It’s an enormous coast, but we’ll be somewhere in the midst of the Dixon Entrance and Cape Fairweather forecasts. Best wishes to you all.








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