Bill Yake arrived in Olympia from his native Spokane in November 1977. He watched the vast, sweeping horizons of Eastern Washington disappear behind the mountains, forests and clouds of Western Washington. Yake’s Olympia welcoming committee was a steady procession of storms that dumped more than 10 inches of rain on him in a span of two weeks.

But he didn’t despair. Instead, he embraced the change in landscape and incorporated it into his poetry. Plus, he knew he would find fellow poets with whom to share his work and sharpen his skills.

Yake shared this first impression of Olympia with poets and poetry lovers who gathered at Traditions Fair Trade Cafe in downtown Olympia on Wednesday night (1/21) to launch the 25-year anniversary of the Olympia Poetry Network. The poets did what poets do when they get together — they read poetry.

By the end of the night, my head was swimming with metaphors, memories and narratives that captured the power of love, the grief of loss, the bow of grace and the struggle with mortality. Some 40 poems filled the air, many written and recited by award-winning poets whose works haves been published, purchased and praised to a depth far deeper than what one might think a city this size would, or could, produce.

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