Stories from the Elwha Klallam Heritage Center

From the Penninnsula Daily News

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Even as symbols of death stood around them, the men and the women sang hopeful songs about life.

Their songs, in the form of poetry, short stories and finally the sinewy sounds of an electric guitar, filled the Elwha Klallam Heritage Center last Tuesday night.

The evening, to mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month, became a survey of real-life comedy and tragedy, told by people you might not expect to appear at a poetry reading.

“Don’t go back,” began Christopher Thomas, a member of the Indian Voices writing group that hosted the open-mic night.

Then the enormous man paused, bowing his head. This poem is titled From a Friend, and it is his plea to a woman enmeshed in a brutal relationship.

“Don’t go back to the blue and the black,” Thomas said.

“Don’t go back . . . to the list of excuses.”

The poet stopped again, overcome by tears. The audience sat in perfect silence.

“Sorry,” Thomas said.

Then he finished “From a Friend” and went on to read a few of his trademark comedic poems.

His few minutes at the podium epitomized the evening, sprinkled as it was with smiles and tears.


Turtle Talk friend Trent Crable was also featured in the article:

Another of the poets appeared for the first time at an Indian Voices gathering; he had wanted to come for a while and had two poems ready to go.

So Trent Crable, a towering figure in a black coat and horn-rimmed glasses, walked to the front.

Crable, a Makah who grew up in California, is now the legal counsel for the Elwha tribe.

As if to show the assembly the men of the future, Crable’s 3-year-old son Carver — named after the late writer Raymond Carver — strode forward too.

“I don’t know if he’s going to let me do this,” Crable said.

But as he offered his poems, “Waiting for the 33” and “Laundry,” Carver stood close beside his father’s leg, not a word or a fidget in sight.

Then, poems read, father and son walked back to their seats, the picture of dignity.