Tess Gallagher of Port Angeles will be one of the keynote presenters during the Raymond Carver and Tess Gallagher Creative Writing Festival this weekend. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Tess Gallagher of Port Angeles will be one of the keynote presenters during the Raymond Carver and Tess Gallagher Creative Writing Festival this weekend. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Famed writers, performers arriving in Port Angeles for festival

Twenty-three events slated at Field Hall, Peninsula College

PORT ANGELES — This Thursday through Saturday — 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. — will be filled with stories, performances, poetry and pie.

The Raymond Carver and Tess Gallagher Creative Writing Festival, the first edition, brings 23 events and activities to Peninsula College and Field Arts & Events Hall.

Port Angeles native and internationally known writer Tess Gallagher, Carver’s widow, is one of the keynote presenters; she’ll be joined by writers T.C. Boyle and Billy Collins, and by three film and television actors in a performance of the radio show “Selected Shorts.”

Readers and writers are coming from across the United States, from Arizona to Massachusetts, said Michael Mills, the Peninsula College professor who has organized the festival. He is host of the Raymond Carver Podcast, which celebrates the writer who spent his final 10 years in Port Angeles.

The full schedule of events can be found at https://raymondcarverpodcast.pencol.edu, while tickets to keynote presentations are at fieldhallevents.org.

“I want to hear Billy [Collins], I want to hear T.C. Boyle … and I’m looking forward to pie and poetry,” Gallagher said.

Boyle, author of 30 books including “The Road to Wellville” and “The Tortilla Curtain,” will give a reading at 7 p.m. Thursday at Field Hall. Collins, former U.S. poet laureate, will share his new work at Field Hall on Friday at 7 p.m.

On Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Gallagher and many of her poet friends will host a gathering at Port Angeles’ Ocean View Cemetery, where Carver is buried. Every year, Carver admirers bring pies — his beloved dessert — to the cemetery for poetry readings around his birthday in May.

This year is different, with the Creative Writing Festival in April, and with Gallagher planning to read something from the iron box beside Carver’s grave. It’s a letter she wrote to him at the time of his death in 1988. She’ll also read a poem Carver wrote for her.

“We hope this will be the kind of event that brings people to our community, while bringing our community together,” said Mills.

To that end, organizers are offering scholarships and free Peninsula College student tickets, hosting free events and hiring local businesses.

Keynote presentations start Thursday with Boyle, “a huge figure in the world of fiction,” Mills said. Boyle “exudes a rock and roll vibe that is rare in literary fiction … He often weaves his narratives right out of the headlines.” With his stories and novels, Boyle helps us question ourselves, “but lets us have a hell of a lot of fun while we do it.”

Next up is keynoter Collins. Many call him the Robert Frost of the current era, Mills said, adding his poems are equal parts touching, funny and surprising. Collins is both deadpan and sincere, Mills added, so much so that people who don’t like poetry end up loving his poetry.

Saturday at 5 p.m., Gallagher will step onto the Field Hall stage.

“I’m going to give a reading that touches all parts of my life,” she said. “I’m going to be omnivorous.”

Saturday night at 7:30, the public radio show “Selected Shorts on Tour” arrives. Actors Kirsten Vangsness, Dion Graham and Zack Grenier will braid together an evening of stories by Carver, Collins and Boyle. Also part of the performance: Gallagher’s “Mr. Woodriff’s Neckties,” a story found in her “The Man from Kinvara” collection.

Gallagher herself plans to bring some emblems from her and Carver’s stories for the “Selected Shorts” performance, the finale of the festival.

Will the poet, who turns 81 this summer, ever slow down?

“No! Why slow down? They might catch you,” is her retort.

________

Diane Urbani de la Paz is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Port Townsend.

Public events

Festival events take place in the Little Theater at Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., and at Field Arts & Events Hall, 201 W. Front St., and Ocean View Cemetery, 3127 W. 18th St., all in Port Angeles.

Thursday

12:30 p.m. Open mic reading of poetry and prose, Little Theater, free

7 p.m. Author T.C. Boyle reads at Field Arts & Events Hall, $15

Friday

4 p.m. The Suitcase Players dance ensemble performs works inspired by Raymond Carver’s writings at Field Hall, free

7 p.m. Billy Collins reads at Field Hall, $15

Saturday

2-4 p.m. Pie and Poetry with Tess Gallagher and friends at Ocean View Cemetery, free

5 p.m. Tess Gallagher reads at Field Hall, $15

7:30-9:30 p.m. “Selected Shorts on Tour” at Field Hall, $30 for adults, $15 for students and children

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