PORT ANGELES — In his short and blazing life, Raymond Carver inspired people: from “Wild” writer Cheryl Strayed to Alejandro Iñarritu, director of the Academy Award-winning “Birdman,” which contains two of Carver’s works.
He also inspired his wife Tess Gallagher, the Port Angeles native who showed Carver her hometown.
He fell hard for this place, and lived the final decade of his life here.
This Saturday would have been Carver’s 81st birthday. And Gallagher, along with a cadre of fellow poets, will celebrate with a Rouse for Ray, an afternoon of poetry, camaraderie and pie at his gravesite.
The reading, open to all lovers of poetry and literature, will start at 2 p.m. at Ocean View Cemetery, 3127 W. 18th St.
“It will be a grand gathering,” said Kate Reavey, the Sequim poet and Peninsula College professor who helps assemble the Rouse for Ray each year.
Pies — Carver’s beloved dessert — should be plentiful, thanks to the poets planning to bring all kinds of them.
Words of love will be in good supply, too. Carver poems to be read include “Where Water Comes Together with Other Water,” an ode to the rivers and springs of the Pacific Northwest; “Radio Waves,” “Wind,” “Balsa Wood” and “Proposal.”
Gallagher, who at past Rouses for Ray has read “Hummingbird,” the poem her husband wrote for her, hasn’t yet said what she’ll read this year. Carver left much to choose from: His poetry collections include “Winter Insomnia,” “Ultramarine,” “At Night the Salmon Move” and “A New Path to the Waterfall,” which he finished shortly before his death.
Saturday’s roster of readers is a who’s who of Olympic Peninsula writers.
Joining Gallagher and Reavey are Holly J. Hughes, Kathryn Hunt and Gary Copeland Lilley of Port Townsend, Howard Chadwick of Sequim and Tim Roos and Janet Lucas of Port Angeles. Laurie Lane of Fox Island and Lawrence Matsuda of Seattle will also take part.
The Rouse for Ray began in 2013 when Port Angeles hosted the Raymond Carver Festival, a celebration of Carver’s short stories and poetry plus the cinema and even dance they have sparked over the years.
The writer died of lung cancer Aug. 2, 1988, at age 50.
On his gravestone, Carver’s signature is engraved below one of his last poems. It’s called “Late Fragment.”
And did you get what you wanted from this life,
And what was it you wanted?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.
Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.