Date of Award

12-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

English

Program

English

First Advisor/Chairperson

Jon Billman

Abstract

I make an annual summertime return to Naknek, a town on Bristol Bay where the salmon have made their own annual summertime return for thousands of years. My thesis is a series of nonfiction essays about my background there, both as a commercial fisherman and my upbringing. It is something I consider the “Part One” of a book still under the process of writing. It is a series of essays, alternating these two motifs of the salmon and of my experiences growing up somewhere like Naknek.

I constructed this thesis to read like the tide. Bristol Bay salmon go out into the ocean and follow various patterns before returning to spawn. This thesis will be an exploration of these patterns, their interconnectivity, and what they mean. I plan to continue alternating stories of fishing with stories of my life outside of fishing in which the “ebb” represents the time away from Bristol Bay. The “flood” is when I return. In my adult life, I have found myself living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin, Kansas, Peru, Guatemala, the Upper Peninsula again, Montana, Oregon, and the Upper Peninsula a third time. Although I have had different jobs and pursuits in various locations, like the salmon I return to Bristol Bay every summer. My thesis is what leads up to this part of the narrative I want to tell.

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