PENINSULA PROFILE: Librarian combines power of verse, nature on Poetry Walks

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

Walk in the woods, peruse the library

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK and the Port Angeles Main Library have established Poetry Walks, free and open to the public on three foot paths: the Living Forest Trail and Peabody Creek Trail, half-mile loops adjacent to the park Visitor Center at 3002 Mount Angeles Road, and the Spruce Railroad Trail, a 4-mile route along the north shore of Lake Crescent. Dogs are permitted on leashes on all three; bicycles and pets are allowed on the Spruce Railroad Trail.

For directions and details, see, and for much more about the North Olympic Library System’s free activities, see, visit the Port Angeles Library at 2210 S. Peabody St. or phone 360-417-8500.

Peninsula Daily News
Last Sunday, Noah Glaude went out to Lake Crescent to get some library work done.

Along the Spruce Railroad Trail, he installed a temporary sign bearing the poem “Sleeping in the Forest,” in which Mary Oliver writes of drifting off under the trees and sky:

I thought the earth remembered me, she

took me back so tenderly, arranging

her dark skirts, her pockets

full of lichens and seeds. I slept

as never before, a stone

on the riverbed, nothing

between me and the white fire of the stars

but my thoughts, and they floated

light as moths among the branches

of the perfect trees.

Oliver’s meditation is one of 26 poems dotting three trails in Olympic National Park. And Glaude, the newly permanent Port Angeles Main Library manager, is the man behind the Poetry Walks, a multifaceted effort to both attract people to his library and lure them into the woods.

Most of the poems, printed on forest-green panels, were put up earlier in April, but Oliver’s shipped late along with one other, Shel Silverstein’s “Tree House.”

So Glaude installed the latter on the Living Forest Trail, a path through the woods behind the Olympic National Park Visitor Center at 3002 Mount Angeles Road. This trail has six poems; the nearby Peabody Creek Trail has eight and the Spruce Railroad Trail has 12.

Now, no ferns nor wildflowers were harmed in this project, Glaude said, since the panels are mounted on slender wire stands.

Along with Silverstein and Oliver, trail users will find the words of Gary Snyder, Carlos Castaneda, Ogden Nash and Emily Bronte on these signs, which will be up through May 31.

The walks are part of the Port Angeles Library’s “Get Moving!” series of activities. Others include West Coast swing dance and yoga classes inside the library. But they are also about taking time to be still.

“We want you to ‘get moving,’” Glaude quipped, “but it’s nice to take a break; take in a poem.” You might also notice how the light filters down through the tree canopy, or see the salmonberry blooming. In the case of the Living Forest and Peabody Creek trails, these are accessible a little more than a mile from downtown Port Angeles.

Glaude didn’t come up with the Poetry Walks concept. He believes librarian Lorrie Kovell, who has since moved away, first had the idea, inspired by last May’s Raymond Carver Festival. That May series of events wrapped up with “A Rouse for Ray,” a traveling poetry reading that took Carver fans to various sites frequented by the late writer and his wife Tess Gallagher.

The Port Angeles Library — and the whole North Olympic Library System — is looking for ways to collaborate with the local national park. Glaude was the one who made the phone call to park officials.

He soon connected with Kathy Steichen, the park’s Chief of Interpretation, Education and Volunteers. Together they put out a call for suggestions from library and park staff and board members. They came right in, and Glaude and Steichen worked together on matching poems with micro-environments.

Olympic National Park did have to analyze the panels’ effects on the trails and the visitor experience, Steichen said. But since they’re nowhere near the back country, that analysis wasn’t too lengthy.

“I was really touched by so many of the poems,” Steichen said, such as David Wagoner’s “Lost” on the Living Forest Trail.

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you

Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,

And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,

Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,

I have made this place around you.

... Stand still. The forest knows

Where you are. You must let it find you.

The Living Forest trailhead is found just behind the Beaumont Cabin beside the visitor center building, and the Peabody Creek Trail takes off from the west side of the center’s parking lot. Both are loops, each is about half a mile in length.

Naturally, Glaude hopes people who haven’t yet discovered these places will be drawn in by the Poetry Walks, and even post their trail photos on the North Olympic Library System’s Facebook page.

The Port Angeles Library is also working with Olympic National Park to offer story times in the forest, and on a new backpack program for families. This will include a kit with trail tools: a magnifying glass, plant identification guide and a pass enabling the family to get in to Olympic National Park free. Eight kits, available for checkout to anyone with a library card, will debut later this year.

For Glaude, who’ll turn 29 next month, the park activities are an outdoor piece of life as a modern library manager. After serving as circulation supervisor, he was promoted to operations manager and then Main Library manager on a temporary basis. Then, late last month, he was named permanent head of the Port Angeles Library’s 15 staffers and the coordinator of branch services, programming and capital projects.

This coming week, Glaude and his crew will reopen the Raymond Carver Room, one of the busiest community meeting spaces in Clallam County.

“We call it a face lift,” Glaude said of the work done on the room. For one thing, he helped choose a paint color he believes will make “The Ghost Fish,” Alfredo Arreguin’s painting of Carver, pop.

Margaret Jakubcin, the library system’s assistant director, said Glaude took the initiative to update the Carver Room’s technology, bringing in a large, computer-compatible plasma screen.

“So people will be able to come in with their laptops and their PowerPoint presentations,” and show them seamlessly, she said. Jakubcin, who will become director of the system July 1 following Paula Barnes’ retirement, also noted that Glaude is an integral member of the team that runs Polaris, the library computer system that manages all things bibliographic and public.

Glaude and the staff also work closely with the Port Angeles Friends of the Library, the group that generates money through used-book sales and other fundraisers, and donates it, to the tune of $53,000 in 2013.

The Friends helped pay for the summer and winter reading programs and teen poetry contests as well as basics like catalog stations and reupholstered chairs. Funding for the Poetry Walk panels and all of the other “Get Moving!” activities came from the Friends too, as did the money for the quarterly Art Blast parties in the Port Angeles Library’s “living room.”

The April 11 Art Blast featured Hey Marseilles, the Seattle indie-rock band whose lead singer Matt Bishop is a friend of Glaude’s from the University of Washington. More than 250 people came out for the free show, Glaude said, and many stayed to sign up for library cards.

He was pleased to see Hey Marseilles attract the 20-something demographic, since that’s a hard bunch for the library to reach.

School-age youngsters pour into the library after
3 p.m. weekdays, said Glaude, but after high school graduation they generally stop coming. It’s not until they’re married with young children that this crowd returns for story times.

Meantime, the library manager works one-on-one with patrons. Any time he goes out onto the floor, people see his name tag and ask for a hand: How do I post this photo on my online dating profile? Where are your auto repair manuals? How do I set up an email account here?

There’s more to the library’s resources than many realize, Glaude added. Databases are available to help anyone learn how to use Microsoft Excel or do genealogy research, for example, and access is free.

Before and after graduating from the University of Washington in Seattle, Glaude worked at the university’s libraries, ultimately supervising and training student workers. While there, he and his wife Tegan took occasional trips to the Olympic Peninsula, thinking that some day they might be able to move out here.

Today, Glaude looks forward to expanding the library’s reach into the surrounding communities. He’d like to see the branches connect with local businesses.

As for the Poetry Walks, “we’ll see how it goes,” Glaude said. In 2015, perhaps, local poets could get involved. Teenagers from the library’s poetry slam — or anyone serendipitously inspired by a trailside poem — might see their work posted in the woods.

“It could be a nice surprise next spring,” said Glaude.

Last modified: May 03. 2014 7:07PM
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