PORT ANGELES, Washington (May 12, 2017) – May 25th will henceforth be “Raymond Carver Day” in Port Angeles. The mayor and City Council will announce that the internationally-renowned writer and poet, Raymond Carver, born on May 25th, will be honored as his birthday becomes an official part of Port Angeles history.
The official announcement comes after the establishment of an annual celebration hosted by Carver’s widow, poet and Port Angeles native, a world-renowned writer herself, Tess Gallagher. Pie and Poetry, founded during the Raymond Carver Festival, which was held at Peninsula College on the occasion of his 75thbirthday, has become a yearly tradition at Ocean View Cemetery, where Peninsula College faculty poets, friends of Carver and Gallagher, and former Wa state poet laureate Kathleen Flenniken, have joined Gallagher to honor the writer, his poems, and his love for pie. In 2016, a group from Italy appeared unexpectedly at the graveside, precisely at 3pm, 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.”
This year, Tod Marshall, who is the current poet laureate of Wa State, will join Gallagher and friends for Pie and Poetry 2017, on the first annual Raymond Carver Day.
The proclamation, which will be read Tuesday night at the start of the City Council meeting, comes as a result of Peninsula College faculty members joining Suzie Bennett of the Elwha Klallam Tribe, in pursuing a request for such a proclamation. Kate Reavey, Kate Goschen, Janet Lucas, and faculty emerita Alice Derry, as well as Dean Bruce Hattendorf, joined Bennett, coordinator of the Elwha Klallam Heritage Center, to propose to the City Council that Carver’s birthday become Raymond Carver Day. Their idea was received with great interest and enthusiasm, so Reavey asked Tess Gallagher, Port Angeles native and world-renowned writer herself, to draft a proclamation for her late husband’s birthday to be so honored.
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.”
Tuesday’s City Council meeting will begin with a reading of the proclamation by Patrick Downie, Mayor, who will, on behalf of the City Council approve Raymond Carver Day to be celebrated on May 25th each year.
Because Gallagher cannot attend the meeting, Reavey and Bennett will accept the Proclamation. Gallagher has invited the mayor and council to join her on May 25th, 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,firstname.lastname@example.org