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Success Found in Friendship at the 2005 Walla Walla Poetry Party

by Travis Catsull

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Group Portrait, Poets at the Walla Walla Poetry Party 2005
Photograph courtesy of Travis Catsull

The 2005 Walla Walla Poetry Party celebrated National Poetry Month in warm style with 24 poets from around the nation. Three days of food, wine and friends poured into The Temple, a 100-year-old Masonic temple in downtown Walla Walla, Washington. The camaraderie was evident as throngs of artists gathered each night to eat, drink and converse after the readings. While the performances were respected with silence and attention, the nights were filled with stories and laughter as old friends reminisced and were introduced to new ones. Generations mixed and mingled over poetic theory and style in the home of Charles Potts as live music sprang from the living room. It was standing room only as night meshed into morning and the more energetic prepared for a multi-mile hike through the Blue Mountains. This picturesque town in eastern Washington was dotted with wandering poets for nearly a week as fans and featured readers came and went with great announcement.

Weeks later at Burning Word: The Festival of Poetic Fire the buzz still circulated about how enjoyable the Walla Walla Poetry Party was. Dan Raphael said, “There was lots of time to talk with other poets; it was a very personable experience.” And this is what has always made the WWPP special: the friendly nature of invited poets and their hosts.

Amanda Knight, the event’s photographer, said, “It was an instant community of intense individuals.” With so many eccentric and emotional artists in the same place at once I confess I was surprised myself, and charmed that the energy and the atmosphere remained calm and alluring. The comic relief of Joel Waldman’s captain-esque nature, the odd and worldly wit of Hugh Fox, the curious and quietly observing Doug Warriner, the sweet intelligence of Kaia Sand, the toothy laugh of Charles Potts beaming across the stage, the respected and wiry countenance of Sharon Doubiago... all made this year’s Poetry Party a monumental event and a promise of more to come.

~Travis Catsull

On the next page, a review of the 2005 Walla Walla Poetry Party by Amber Andersen, reprinted with permission from The Whitman College Pioneer...

And beyond, Travis Catsull’s poem, “The Night the Moon Broke In”....

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