Tess Gallagher

Poet Spotlight: Tess Gallagher

August 31, 2023
Veronica Martinez

Among the many influential Cascadian poets that we are excited to welcome to the 7th Cascadia Poetry Festival on October 6-8 is the award winning Port Angeles poet and short story writer Tess Gallagher. Gallagher will be hosting a workshop entitled “Stimulating the Satori Moment in Poems.”

I received my BA in Creative Writing and English from the University of Arizona, and lived in Arizona for most of my life. While I had some previous knowledge of Washington state thanks to various family members that have lived here, I only had a basic understanding of the impact Washington, and the entire Cascadia bioregion, had on literature. Unfortunately, my college education failed to emphasize the importance of this bioregion on the work I was studying. Upon moving from Tucson to Seattle last September, I suddenly started hearing names I have read and studied circulating in the Seattle air. Richard Hugo and Octavia Butler and are just a few. The longer I live here and involve myself with the literary community of the bioregion, the more I discover that the writers whose work has confirmed for me again and and again that I, too, want to dedicate my life to writing have made their mark on this bioregion in one way or another.

Enter Tess Gallagher. While studying her achievements in preparation for the Cascadia Poetry Festival, I was floored by her accomplishments and impact on American poetry. With numerous published collections of poetry, three short story collections, multiple teaching credits around the country, and countless awards for her work, Tess Gallagher is a literary force originating from the Cascadia bioregion. I was blown away by the many great names that were associated with Gallagher’s, from studying at the University of Washington with Pulitzer Prize winning poet Theodore Roethke, to her marriage with short story writer Raymond Carver and her role as the literary executor of his estate. Gallagher is also the first American to be awarded the international Fondazione Roma Ritratti di poesia Prize for her Lifetime Achievement in Poetry. The list of achievements goes on and on. 

There is a creative and passionate force in the Cascadia bioregion that is incredibly palpable once you step into it. For such impactful work to be made in or about this bioregion, for so many influential people to be inspired by it, is a testament to its importance on poetry, writing and art as a whole. Tess Gallagher is an example of this, as she has remained in Port Angeles and continues to produce work in and about the area. As a newcomer to the bioregion, I have been absolutely honored to learn that I live somewhere that has been both a home and haven for artists and writers that have marked and molded literature. I look forward to meeting and being exposed to more of the amazing minds that the bioregion has to offer at the Cascadia Poetry Festival this fall.



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