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Passport to Poetry!

Vashon Poetry Fest

The Vashon Poetry Fest will produce its second bi-annual literary festival devoted entirely to poetry. The events begin on Thursday, May 26 with a variety of poetry readings and workshops happening in Vashon town-center through Memorial Day, May 30. The range of poets is being expanded from the previous festival in order to reach a multi-generational audience with a broad taste range. The Fest has added a selection of younger poets, many of whom will be ‘spoken word’ poets, action poets, and slam poets.  

Two years ago, under the leadership of Ron Irvine, owner of the Vashon Winery the first Vashon Poetry Fest was held. It was highly successful—Sam Green, then poet-Laureate of Washington State, was the featured poet and there was a strong range of performers/presenters and well-attended workshops.

The theme for this year’s Festival weekend is ‘A Passport to Poetry.’ It will emphasize poetry’s power to cross and erase borders and boundaries. To heighten the passport theme, everyone attending the readings and workshops will receive a passport designed specifically for the Fest.

The three featured poets this year will be Sam Hamill, Tess Gallagher and Lawrence Matsuda. Gallagher and Matsuda’s Friday presentation will be as much about culture and politics as about art. Matsuda was born in the Minidoka, Idaho War Relocation Center during World War II, and his poetry in A Cold Wind from Idaho is about this experience. Gallagher, a nationally and internationally recognized Northwest poet needs little introduction, since she is known and loved by many. Saturday evening will feature Storme Webber, Jourdan Keith, Karen Finneyfrock, and Seattle Slammaster Daemond Arrindell in performance at the Red Bicycle. Sunday’s reading will feature American Book Award winner Judith Roche, Floating Bridge Chapbook contest winner Holly Hughes and Cal Kinnear. Founder of Copper Canyon Press and esteemed Northwest poet, Sam Hamill, will be Monday’s featured poet.In addition to a reading, hewill offer a talk on the relation of poetry to war and cultural memory. A former Marine, Hamill is the founder of the Poets against the War movement.

Additional events include a variety of workshops and a celebratory dinner on Sunday evening at the Hardware Store Restaurant. The public is invited to attend all events. Times and details are available at the Poetry Fest web site ( or email Ron Irvine,, (206) 931-4703.