Alan Harvey re-outlines Tacoma’s history in the form of poetry. We may think of it as tough and gritty, and we do not get to see the nuanced layers in our hurry for modern conveniences. Alan, a retired middle school teacher and avid poet/artist himself, first helped shape many Tacoma students’ experiences with English in a positive way. (Though middle school’s not an easy age to reach, Harvey got students, including ESL students, to relate through poetry.) Poet Alan Harvey is determined to share Tacoma’s untold stories and to do so through art.
Since retiring, Harvey has devoted himself to projects that increase poetic value in the community. For example, he and a friend created a “Haiku at Chinese Reconciliation Park” memorial walk through Tacoma’s commemorative space. Often dormant, the park became where guests were invited to reflect on history and poems at specific locations. On another occasion, he and a friend created a haiku-strewn trail through Puyallup Farmer’s Market in the summer, inviting all friends and associates to find new delights hidden within the lovely market.
Though Harvey creates independently, he finds joy in creating with others. For example, he is active in the Immanuel Presbyterian Church, where he and his friend Beth plant the seeds of many projects. He also is a guest deacon and volunteer breakfast cooker at Urban Grace on weekends. Currently, he’s interested in a poetry incarceration project.
An avid poet and learner, Harvey is a model of the active retiree. He constantly questions what stories get told and strives to bring projects into the public sphere. For instance, he also created a women’s poets’ art book, which he shared with a group reading. He is generous with friends’ work and helps local poetry grow through the Puget Sound Poetry Connection.
Harvey is perhaps most at home in his studio. Upon a visit, one will find the artist’s home filled with sculptures, interesting 3-D projects, book arts, and of course, poetry. (Haiku and haiga are favorite forms.) He supports other poets and always has a book or ear to lend. He’ll tell you he is always working on creating something — either a renga (haiku story) or a public outreach project. With a gentle sense of humor, he has made his time in retirement a gift to the community.
Harvey grew up in Pennsylvania and moved out here as an adult. He is a long-time native of central Tacoma. He ran a small aquarium manufacturing business before teaching. He also supports local art galleries. In addition to poetry, you’ll find him on nature walks, baking pies, or maybe catching a Hawk’s game.
For a city often overlooked for its culture, Alan Harvey is one to thank for continuing its spread in the South Sound community.
Find more about Puget Sound Poetry Connection for a wealth of local resources on poetry.