Inspiration awaits in Chetzemoka Park with haiku workshop Saturday

PORT TOWNSEND — On Saturday, Margaret McGee plans a pilgrimage to one of her favorite spots — and she’s inviting others to walk, write and respond with her.

The title of McGee’s languorous day is “Inspired by Place,” and the destination is Chetzemoka Park, the lush, beach-bordered expanse at Jackson and Blaine streets.

Participants are urged to sign up by today to ensure the workshop goes ahead.

McGee, a teacher and the author of Haiku — The Sacred Art, will serve as a guide, discussing the Japanese poetry known as haiku, offering a history of the park and then turning participants loose to roam in the park.

The event, from 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday, costs $55 per person.

Information is available at 360-477-0355, 360-385-3489 and

What excites McGee about this, she said, is that it’s a chance to tune in to Chetzemoka Park’s charms — its sounds, sights and scents — and reflect them in a three-line haiku poem.

“We can celebrate this place by seeing it,” she said. “When you can reflect back what you see, that celebrates and deepens its meaning, for you and the community.”

McGee will start the day with a short talk on haiku poetry at the Uptown Community Center, 620 Tyler St.

Then, she’ll walk with participants to the park a few blocks away; there, she’ll give some historical background on it.

“Then, people can just walk around on their own,” she added.

“They can walk down to the beach” to inhale inspiration for a poem or several.

A sack lunch is advised, or poets can go over to Saturday’s Port Townsend Farmers Market at Tyler and Lawrence streets for portable food and drink.

At the end of the day, participants will have the opportunity to share their writings back at the community center.

And next week, McGee will work with park maintenance staff to post poems under or around Chetzemoka Park’s picnic shelter, so other park visitors can enjoy them.

‘Sacred places’

“Haiku is traditionally associated with sacred places, places of importance to society,” she said.

“Places that are important to us carry feeling . . . I wanted to lift that up.”

McGee, who teaches haiku workshops around the region, also hopes to offer such activities in other natural places in and near Port Townsend. She plans another “Inspired by Place” workshop in January at a location yet to be chosen.

With this Saturday’s workshop, she wants to provide “a day of connecting to special places in our lives, discovering special places just down the street” and writing brief poems to highlight the here and now.

The Chetzemoka event “is kind of a kickoff for that,” she said.

“I wanted to try it out.”


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at

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