Maine Fishermen to Share Songs, Stories in Portland

On Thursday, March 28 (2013) the Maine Maritime Museum will host the second annual Voices of the Sea: The Poetry and Song of Maine’s Fishermen and Those Who Work on the Water, at DiMillo’s On the Water restaurant in Portland, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Following in the tradition of ever popular cowboy poetry events, Voices of the Sea features professionals from the maritime world who use their art to illuminate the hard and often invisible work they do.

Hosting this year’s event will be Maine storyteller, writer and radio host John McDonald. He will be joined by commercial fishermen and mariners cum poets and songwriters, including singer/songwriter/lobsterman Frank Gotwals from Stonington, as well as Jack Merrill from Little Cranberry Island, who also lobsters and serves on the Board of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. Also sharing her experiences and impressions of the sea will be well-known Maine poet Sarah Woolf-Wade.

Fishermen Poetry is a genre that is growing in interest and practitioners. The form is modeled on the cowboy poetry that began around campfires in the 19th century and continues today, written and performed mainly by those who work in traditional cowboy occupations. The maritime world, too, has always inspired literary endeavors, from Herman Melville to John Masefield, and the fishermen poets continue to build on that tradition.

“Astoria, Oregon, hosts the Fisher Poets Gathering, the biggest fisherman poetry event in the country,” says Maine Maritime Museum’s Education Coordinator Jim Nelson. “They get fishermen from all over, including, this year, Maine’s own Jack Merrill. Their event goes on for days and is spread out over a number of venues.”

Voices of the Sea will be more limited—just one evening—but organizers hope to see it expand. “It would be great to see this keep growing,” says Nelson. “Someday I would love to see Voices of the Sea become the East Coast version of the Astoria Gathering.”


  • Doors open at 6:00 p.m.
  • Admission is $12 for MMM members, $15 for nonmembers.
  • A cash bar will be open before and during the event, and dinner is available in the dining room downstairs, including DiMillo’s famous Early Dinner Special from 4 to 6 p.m.
  • To register CLICK HERE.

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