By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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Raymond Carver “was always exclaiming, 'Aren't we so lucky,'” recalls Susan Lytle, the Seattle artist who, with her husband Alfredo Arreguin, enjoyed a long friendship with Carver and his wife Tess Gallagher.
The two couples grew close in the 1980s, as Gallagher and Carver built their lives in Port Angeles. Carver was newly sober, having won a life-and-death battle with alcohol.
He and Arreguin were kindred spirits. And then Arreguin, having been a drinker for many years, decided to quit.
“We could have lots of fun eating and telling stories. Sometimes Ray would take notes,” Lytle remembered.
On Tuesday, in a free Raymond Carver Festival event, Lytle and Arreguin will give a slide-illustrated talk on the art, poetry and memories from this friendship.
Their presentation will start at 3 p.m. in the Little Theater at Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd. Outside the theater, in the adjacent PUB Art Gallery, an exhibition of Arreguin and Lytle paintings and mementos awaits.
Carver died of cancer in August 1988.
Ten years later, Gallagher purchased “The Ghost Fish,” Arreguin's painting of Carver, and donated it to the Port Angeles Library for its community meeting space, the Raymond Carver Room.
Carver would have been 75 this Saturday. Tuesday's program is one of a series of free events this week; details are at www.PenCol.edu.
At the University of Washington — where he first met Gallagher, then a student, some 50 years ago — the Alfredo Arreguin Scholarship was established in 2006; the artist was presented with the university College of Arts and Sciences' Timeless Award in 2011.
The PUB Art Gallery show offers Arreguin and Lytle's paintings along with photographs and mounted excerpts of Carver's stories and poems.
— Peninsula Daily News
“Suddenly, I find a new path to the waterfall,” he writes in the title poem to one of his books.
“I begin to hurry. Wake up, my wife says. You're dreaming.”
Carver was a dreamer and a realist, a man who wrote short stories and shorter poems that burned his name into America's literary canon.
He lived the last decade of his life in Port Angeles, and died here, at age 50.
Now, to mark what would have been his 75th birthday, his widow, poet Tess Gallagher, has assembled the May 9-25 Raymond Carver Festival.
A main event comes at 7 p.m. tonight. An ensemble of poets of the Pacific Northwest will gather in the Raymond Carver Room at the Port Angeles Library, 2210 S. Peabody St., for selected readings from All of Us, the Carver collection released in 2000.
“At night the salmon move/ out from the river and into town,” goes one of his odes to fish.
“We wait up for them. We leave our back windows open and call out when we hear a splash.”
Carver also takes us outside town, for “Eagles.”
“It was a sixteen inch ling cod that the eagle dropped near our feet at the top of Bagley Creek canyon, at the edge of the green woods.”
These and other Carver poems will make their way back to Carver's last home town, to the community meeting space named after him.
Port Angeles poet Alice Derry will host the free poetry reading along with Gallagher.
If the list of selections is any sign, the poetry will leap and dart like the salmon Carver loved. There's “Locking Yourself Out, Then Trying to Get Back In;” “Looking for Work;” “Wind;” “Aspens” and “What the Doctor Said.”
That one came after Carver learned of his advanced cancer, the disease that would end his life in August 1988.
The Carver Festival is a celebration of a life full of comedy, tragedy and love.
The poetry reading will end with “For Tess,” Carver's ode to his wife.
Gallagher will read the piece that ends:
“As I was laying there with my eyes closed,
just after I'd imagined what it might be like
if in fact I never got up again, I thought of you.
I opened my eyes then and got right up
and went back to being happy again
I'm grateful to you, you see.”
Gallagher and Derry have also invited poets including Kate Reavey, Carmen Germain, Tim Roos, Holly Hughes, Howard Chadwick, Charlotte Warren and Joan Swift.
They will step up to the podium beside Alfredo Arreguín's dreamlike painting, “The Ghost Fish.” From it, Carver's eyes look out through a mass of red-finned swimmers. Carver and Arreguin, a Mexican-born artist who lives in Seattle, were fishermen and close friends.
More information about these and other Carver Festival events this week, visit cosponsor Peninsula College's website at www.PenCol.edu.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.