May 25 will henceforth be “Raymond Carver Day” in Port Angeles. The internationally-renowned writer and poet, Raymond Carver, born on May 25, will be honored as his birthday becomes an official part of Port Angeles history. On the first-annual Raymond Carver Day, Peninsula College is proud to host the Poet Laureate of Washington State, Tod Marshall, who will read at 12:35pm in the Little Theater as part of the Studium Generale series. Carver's widow, herself a renowned poet and writer, Tess Gallagher will join Marshall on the stage for the mid-day reading, and the two will share Carver's poetry as well as their own, original works. This event is free and open to the public.
Marshall will also offer a poetry workshop from 10 a.m. to 11:30 on May 25. The objective of this "Generative Workshop" is to create poetry, to generate inspiration and creativity. No previous experience is required.
The workshop will be held on the PC campus, with the location to be determined. Space is limited to 20 participants, and they must pre-register for this opportunity by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Later that day, Marshall will join Gallagher and other poets, friends of Carver's, and Peninsula College faculty for a celebration of pie and poetry, at 3:30 pm next to Carver's gravesite in the Ocean View Cemetery, located at 3127 W 18th St, in Port Angeles.
Marshall, who teaches English and humanities at Gonzaga University, earned an MFA degree from Eastern Washington University and a PhD from the University of Kansas. His first collection of poetry, Dare Say, was the 2002 winner of the University of Georgia’s Contemporary Poetry Series. His second collection, The Tangled Line, published by Canarium Press in 2009, was a finalist for the Washington Book Award. Marshall has also published a collection of his interviews with contemporary poets, Range of the Possible (EWU Press, 2002), which was named to the New York City Public Library Poetry Book List for 2003, and an accompanying anthology of the interviewed poets’ work, Range of Voices (2005).
His third collection of poetry, Bugle, was published in December of 2014 from Canarium, and won the Washington State Book Award in 2015.
The Washington State Poet Laureate program is jointly sponsored by the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) and Humanities Washington.
"Poetry matters—not just to poets, professors, and students: poetry matters to everyone,” Marshall said. “I was a first-generation college student, and because of that, I understand the skepticism that many have for the arts. But I’ve also come to realize that the inner life that the arts and humanities can nurture is important to living deliberately and introspectively. So I am interested in how poetry and all of the arts can help us find our best selves."
Gathering: a local tradition
Pie and Poetry, founded during the Raymond Carver Festival, which was held at Peninsula College on the occasion of his 75th birthday, has become a yearly tradition at Ocean View Cemetery. Peninsula College faculty poets, friends of Carver and Gallagher, and former Wa state poet laureate Kathleen Flenniken, have joined Gallagher in past years to honor the writer, his poems, and his love for pie. In 2016, a group from Italy appeared unexpectedly at the graveside, precisely at 3:30pm, just as the readings were commencing. The Italian group was on a literary tour, and they came to the grave because it was Carver’s birthday; what they didn’t know is that they would be treated to Gallagher’s incredible hospitality, her own recitations of Carver’s poems, and home-made pies in great variety. The tour guide was thrilled, because he said, “This is our first American pie, and pie is something so authentic to America, the group has been asking me to find the best, and I did not know how to do so. Here, serendipitously, we have found the very best.”
Peninsula College faculty members joined Suzie Bennett, Coordinator of the Elwha Klallam Heritage Center, and Alice Derry, faculty emerita and recent Writer in Residence at PC, to propose to the City Council that Carver’s birthday become Raymond Carver Day. Their idea was received with great interest and enthusiasm, and then Gallagher, Port Angeles native and world-renowned writer herself, drafted the words so that her late husband’s birthday could be honored in this manner.
Carver is an internationally recognized short story writer, poet, and essayist who made his home in Port Angeles for the last ten years of his life, and he came to his final resting place at Ocean View Cemetery on August 2, 1988. Carver wrote many of his incomparable poems and stories in Port Angeles, while sharing his life with his wife, Tess Gallagher.
Gallagher notes that “he wrote about the many local places he loved here—where he fished, looked out upon local waters, and gave voice to the people he met here and championed their working class lives in the Northwest and in Port Angeles and Clallam County in particular, honoring those who struggle and don’t always reach the rewards of the so-called American Dream, those who become homeless, those who work hard but can’t pay their bills, those who are skilled and unskilled, who labor in jobs without much honor for inadequate wages and without health insurance and that he honors those we used to call Middle Class America, those who try but fail, those with debts accumulating even though they try to pay their way, those who strive and dream, raise children, and try to take care of each other.”
She also explains that Carver “wanted to acknowledge those who are "differently abled” and to uplift us all with how they contribute to our lives as in the famous, beautiful story “Cathedral” in which a blind man and a sighted man draw a cathedral together and they come to some inward sight together. Carver wrote in a way which is accessible to so many and poignant enough to touch hearts in every corner of the world and in 28 languages.” His writings led to film adaption in Alejandro Inarritu’s Oscar winning “Birdman” as well as the widely-celebrated presentation of nine stories in Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts” and the Australian film “Jindabyne” which used Carver’s story “So Much Water So Close to Home.”
Patrick Downie, Mayor of Port Angeles, signed proclamation on May 16.
Gallagher has invited the mayor and council to join her on May 25, at 3:30pm, at Ocean View Cemetery, where the proclamation will be read once again, followed by an abundance of pie and poetry. The event is free and open to the public. Peninsula College is proud to be a small part of this occasion and the literary and humanities programs are committed to honoring Carver’s birthday each year with in the Foothills Writers Series and Studium Generale series.
For more information, contact Dr. Kate Reavey, email@example.com