Salmon Poet is a wonderful film about Oregon's premiere poet Walt Curtis by Sabrina Guitart .  I love this project and everyone should see Walt's symbolic and poetic ideals about the Northwest ecology and Salmon.

Gus Van Sant 

Sabrina Guitart's film "Salmon Poet" is one of the most beautiful and poetic films I've ever seen. It's a wonderful companion piece to my documentary "Walt Curtis Peckerneck Poet"

Bill Plympton

If you've ever watched ("The Peckerneck Poet"), witnessed (at countless protests and poetry readings), read ("Mala Noche") or heard (the KBOO poetry show "Talking Earth") Walt Curtis, you know that the poet/novelist is loud, provocative, profane and uninhibited. A contemporary of Ken Kesey, Curtis is one of the Northwest's most enduring living literary figures and a pioneer for keeping it weird. Curtis has an intense devotion to nature, with a special love for the rivers, trees and fish -- he calls salmon "the Jesus Christ fish of the ecosystem" -- of our corner of the planet. In "Salmon Poet," his collaboration with Spanish-born filmmaker Sabrina Guitart, Curtis lets his passion and concern for our ecology spill out in the form of rapid-fire poetry, political rants and shamanistic chants. He's very in-your-face and occasionally seems certifiably loony, but he's never guilty of dullness. Guitart, who's much younger than Curtis, provides the documentary's visual flair with arty editing and many striking images of forests, waterfalls and gorges (her affable black dog is also a frequent sight).
This multigenerational, spiritually centered ode to Mother Earth may be a bit too hippie idealistic for some tastes, but one particular shot of a gorge overlook can awe even the most jaded viewer.

An arty ode to 'Salmon Poet' by Stan Hall, Special to The Oregonian.


Iconic Northwest poet Walt Curtis barrels, brays, screams, gnashes and slobbers his way through this broad but compelling meditation on the ecological and cosmologic significance of the salmon. Riffing on an unpublished collection of his poems entitled Salmon Poet Gospel, Curtis shouts neo-transcendentalist incantations and anti-capitalist tirades in a hoarse, all-purpose Beat howl, 53 years after Allen Ginsberg delivered his. You can’t help but wonder whether he is the bitter end of a dying (or already dead) breed. Offsetting his Sturm und Drang is filmmaker Sabrina Guitart’s own poetry, which she recites in lilting Castilian. Her misty cinematography of the Columbia River Gorge conjures idylls of Earth-Mother gentility reminiscent of Pocahontas’ rapturous pastorales in Terrence Malick’s 2005 film The New World. Stepping into the frame, the director treads barefoot over smooth stones; her body sluices through a creek; she hikes through a hushed frost-scape that is among the film’s most ecstatic sequences. Positing herself as an embodiment of nature, she lets Curtis rail against humankind’s injustices against her. Somewhere between Curtis’ indignant histrionics and Guitart’s balming lyricism lies a truth that Salmon Poet’s dialectic tennis match only hints at, albeit hauntingly.

Richard Speer (Williamette Week)

Walt, Salmon Poet is a fabulous film. The cinematography is beautiful.  The passion which you and Sabrina exert toward the salvation of the planet and the ecosystem is magnificent. Please let Special Collections put the out-takes of you reading poetry on our electronic website.

James Fox, Head
University Archives,
The University of Oregon

In Salmon Poet, Walt Curtis and Sabrina Guitart evoke the cris de couer of the young Pablo Neruda and the too-soon-martyred Federico García Lorca, like filmmaker Guitart a gypsy Spaniard. Follow the poets and one iconic dog into Oregon’s epic landscape. Struggle upstream on the salmon’s timeless survival quest. Climb through icy mists. Witness naiads frolic. In one magic hour Salmon Poet captures a mythic domain. Take up the poets’ charge: embrace and protect this blessed place.

David Milholland


Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission