Sonnet. Haiku. Pantoum. Free verse. No matter what kind of poetry you write, whether you’re a seasoned writer or just like to scribble away in a notebook and read to friends and family (or even your cat), you’re welcome at Puget Sound Poetry Connection. With the motto “Bringing Quality Poetry to the Northwest,” this friendly group offers a monthly local author reading, an open mic and a chance to network with other creative types in an unpretentious, welcoming setting.

On the second Friday of each month at 7:00 p.m., come out to the Distinguished Writer reading series at Immanuel Presbyterian Church (901 N. J Street) and you will immediately be included in this warm group. Each month, a different published poet reads their work. It’s an informal setting, and you’ll hear from a variety of talent from the Tacoma Poet Laureate, Abby E. Murray (read more about her here), to the Washington State Poet Laureate, Claudia Castro Luna. After this and a brief intermission, an open mic offers the chance for everyone to share up to two poems with the group. Open mics are lively and the crowd is generous-spirited. There’s an optional theme each month that poets are invited to take on. After the event, poets are welcome to stay and get to know each other a bit more. The church is ADA accessible and the event is free and open to all (with donations gratefully accepted).

Carl “Papa” Palmer and Connie Walle
Long-time friends Carl “Papa” Palmer and founder Connie Walle do much behind the scenes work to keep the Puget Sound Poetry Connection running smoothly. Photo credit: Gale Hemmann

Not a writer, or not sure you’re ready to share yet? That’s okay. You’re welcome to come out and just listen, too. In the hustle and bustle of our everyday world, poetry carves out a special space outside of normal language, the usual to-do list mentality that runs our daily minds. The Puget Sound Poetry Connection gatherings beautifully preserve that special, quiet space that poetry invites us to enter into. You’ll hear poets from all walks of life and all ages touch on themes ranging from love to loss to summer garden bounty to humor at a typical event. Find yourself restored and energized by poetry.

President and Founder Connie Walle started the Puget Sound Poetry Connection more than 30 years ago. A Tacoma native and published poet in her own right, the wry, humorous and generous Connie works alongside dedicated volunteers to help keep this group going. Over the years, the group’s projects have involved an anthology and a poetry festival, and the group is always open to new ideas.

Tacoma Poet Laureate Abby E. Murray
Tacoma Poet Laureate Abby E. Murray was a recent guest at the Puget Sound Poetry Connection Distinguished Reader series. Photo credit: Gale E Hemmann

In addition to the monthly reading, the group is truly a local poetry “connection,” promoting work by local authors, writing workshops, and opportunities to submit and hear poetry on its website and social media channels. Poetry is a solitary pursuit and the Puget Sound Poetry Connection plays a vital role in keeping poets connected to each other and a larger audience. While she counts on a network of dear volunteers, Connie has always been the force behind the effort.

On the power of poetry in her life, Connie says, “Sometimes I surprise myself.” She has been published broadly and her poem “Write Me a Love Poem” was featured on Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac.” From securing meeting space to recruiting writers to emceeing events, running the group has been a true labor of love. “It’s a personal thing…as much work as I’ve put into it for over 30 years, it’s what my friends and I need and want…we’ve worked so hard!” she says.

Over the years, the Puget Sound Poetry Connection has touched the lives of so many writers who get involved. Fellow board member and active volunteer Carl “Papa” Palmer is a retired veteran who started writing poetry after he joined the group in 2004. He says the group offers value to the local community as a “good, safe gathering place…people are accepted no matter what they read. We clap for everyone…it’s also nice to have a place for people to come together with like minds.”

Kat Van Eddy
PLU writing program graduate Kat Van Eddy shared her work as a Distinguished Writer at a recent Puget Sound Poetry Connection reading. Photo courtesy: Puget Sound Poetry Connection

The Puget Sound Poetry Connection has also been a springboard for lasting friendships among its members. Sitting with Connie and Carl at Ben Dew’s Clubhouse Grill and Cocktail Bar (where Connie has come since childhood), they reminisced about the group and shared how it has evolved, where they are now, and what they’d like to see for the future. The hope to see it continue to grow, bringing more poets of all ages and all levels into its folds.

Along with featuring established local talent, Connie says, “I want to this to continue to be somewhere poets can come to read for the first time.”

To get involved with the Puget Sound Poetry Connection, dust off your best poetry efforts and come out to the monthly gathering. You can also learn all about the upcoming featured poets and stay up to date with monthly writing themes on their Facebook page, Instagram and website. You just may be surprised at what a little poetry will bring to your life.

Puget Sound Poetry Connection Distinguished Writer Series

Second Friday of the month at 7:00 p.m.
At Immanuel Presbyterian Church
901 North J Street
Tacoma, WA 98405

Open mic sign-ups start before the reading.