Matsen, Bradford (Conway) 1944-

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MATSEN, Bradford (Conway) 1944-

(Brad Matsen)

PERSONAL: Born July 6, 1944, in Bridgeport, CT; son of Bradford Clifford (a soldier and golfer) and Mae Estelle (a nurse; maiden name, Renaud) Matsen; married Colleen Estelle Simpson, June 6, 1966 (divorced, November, 1977); companion of Holly Jane Hughes (a poet, teacher, and mariner); children: Laara Estelle. Education: Attended University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, 1962-65, and Monterey Language Institute, 1966-67; California State University—Hayward, B.A., 1971; University of California—Irvine, M.F.A., 1975. Politics: "The pursuit of joy." Religion: "The pursuit of joy." Hobbies and other interests: Astronomy, poker, sailing, skiing.

ADDRESSES: Office—8819 Ashworth Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98103-4022.

CAREER: Freelance journalist and photographer, 1970—. Film Seattle, Seattle, WA, editor, 1978-80; Alaska Fisherman's Journal, Seattle, editor, 1980-84; National Fisherman, Seattle, editor at large, beginning 1985. Matsen/Schnaper and Associates, consultant, 1976-77; Film Seattle Cinema Guide, publisher, 1978-79; Seattle Fishermen's Memorial Committee, member, 1985-90, chair, 1990. Charter pilot, mariner, and commercial fisher. Consultant to Mediation Institute and National Public Radio. Exhibitions: Photographer, with work exhibited at Smithsonian Institution and Port of Seattle. Military service: U.S. Marine Corps, cryptanalytic linguist, 1966-70.

MEMBER: Elkhorn Yacht Club.

AWARDS, HONORS: Fellow, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, 1972-73; Cine Golden Eagle, Committee on International Nontheatrical Events, 1985, for documentary script Alaska at War; Grand Prize, Native American Film Festival, for documentary script This Land Is Yours.


More Fish (television special), Public Broadcasting Service, 1985.

Alaska at War (television special), Public Broadcasting Service, 1987.

Deep Sea Fishing, Thunder Bay Press (San Diego, CA), 1990.

Northwest Coast: Essays and Images from the Columbia River to the Cook Inlet, photographs by Pat O'Hara, Thunder Bay Press (San Diego, CA), 1991.

Shocking Fish Tales, Alaska Northwest Books (Seattle, WA), 1991.

This Land Is Yours (television special), Public Broadcasting Service, 1994.

Faces of Fishing: People, Food, and the Sea at the Beginning of the Twenty-first Century, Monterey Bay Aquarium Press (Monterey, CA), 1998.

Contributor of articles and short stories to periodicals, including Audubon, National Fisherman, Alaska, Whole Earth Review, and Technology Illustrated.

under name brad matsen

(With Tom Jay) Reaching Home: Pacific Salmon, Pacific People, photography by Natalie Fobes, Alaska Northwest Books (Anchorage, AK), 1994.

Planet Ocean: A Story of Life, the Sea, and Dancing to the Fossil Record, illustrated by Ray Troll, Ten Speed Press (Berkeley, CA), 1994.

(With Ray Troll) Raptors, Fossils, Fins, and Fangs: A Prehistoric Creature Feature, Tricycle Press (Berkeley, CA), 1996.

Fishing Up North: Stories of Luck and Loss in Alaskan Waters, Alaska Northwest Books (Anchorage, AK), 1998.

(With Nancy Burnett) The Shape of Life, Monterey Bay Aquarium Press (Monterey, CA), 2002.

An Extreme Dive under the Antarctic Ice, Enslow Publishers (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 2003.

The Incredible Hunt for the Giant Squid, Enslow Publishers (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 2003.

The Incredible Quest to Find the Titanic, Enslow Publishers (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 2003.

The Incredible Record-Setting Deep-Sea Dive of the Bathysphere, Enslow Publishers (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 2003.

The Incredible Search for the Treasure Ship Atocha, Enslow Publishers (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 2003.

The Incredible Submersible Alvin Discovers a Strange Deep-Sea World, Enslow Publishers (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 2003.

Descent: The Heroic Discovery of the Abyss, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Go Wild in New York City, National Geographic (Washington, DC), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Bradford Matsen once told CA: "I stumbled into writing in 1970 after four years in the Marine Corps, when I was looking for a way to break free of the tedium of normal life and, not incidentally, be loved. While I was finishing my B.A. in California, I took a creative writing class and distinguished myself in the company of younger, less clever students, won an award, sold the first story I wrote, broke from the masses, and received plenty of the approval I craved so much. For ten years, I wrote and published short stories and magazine articles, went to graduate school for a Master of Fine Arts degree, wrote part of a terrible novel, called myself a writer, made a meager living with boosts from other work, and never wrote a line from an open heart. I had a natural facility with language but a hard time admitting to myself that I really didn't like the act of writing, and, worse, I hadn't a clue that a harmony of spirit and surrender of self are the essence of a writing life.

"I settled into mediocrity and a joyless relationship with my work until finally, when I was about thirty-five, I quit and became a commercial salmon fisherman in Alaska. Life at sea took me too far away from my daughter for too many months a year, so fishing didn't work over the long haul. I realized that the skill I had accumulated in ten years at the typewriter was the most valuable thing I could sell to make a living on land, so I went back to work as a journalist and photographer. I pounded out five or six thousand words a month for four years and numbed my defenses with sheer volume until the beginnings of an honest voice emerged. I burned out on the travel and intensity of the freelancer's life, though, and decided again to quit trying to be a writer. A year later, I came to the same conclusions about making a living as the first time I quit, and, at forty, became a writer for the first time. The key for me was the realization that I am not the source—that vision, beauty, peace, and well-turned phrases move through me as gifts I cannot claim but must pass along. I couldn't find joy as a writer until I surrendered, let go of the fears engendered by self-serving motivation, and began to be enthused rather than skillful, smart, and disciplined. Discipline is vastly overrated among writers. To do the work, I have to sit down at the keyboard, of course, but the good words don't come when I simply will myself to write. For the last several years, writing has been a natural joy for me. I've written books, documentary films, and hundreds of magazine articles, and edited a magazine for eight years, and I'm grateful every day that I lucked into a craft that put me through my paces as a human being.

"As Casey Stengel said, 'There ain't nothing to being a ball player if you're a ballplayer.' And there ain't nothing to being a writer once you're a writer."



Booklist, June 1, 1998, review of Fishing Up North, p. 1684.

Bookwatch, May, 1998, review of Faces of Fishing:People, Food, and the Sea at the Beginning of the Twenty-first Century, p. 1.

Library Journal, July, 1998, review of Fishing UpNorth, p. 119.

Reference and Research Book News, November, 1998, review of Fishing Up North, p. 223.

Underwater Naturalist, February, 1999, review of Faces of Fishing, p. 47.

Whole Earth, summer, 1998, Allston James, review of Faces of Fishing, p. 90.*