A Glittering Night of Art at The Center Salon

By Alec Clayton

Washington State’s Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna offered up a fitting end to a glittering night of art at the Washington Center‘s “Center Salon” on Friday, April 12.

Castro Luna called her suite of poems “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” as inspired by the Tina Turner song of the same name. Castro Luna was the last of eight outstanding writers and musicians to entertain a cabaret-style full house. The theme was fitting to close out the evening.

This year’s event was the fourth annual salon headed up by playwright Bryan Willis, OLY ARTS contributing editor and founder of the Northwest Playwrights Alliance. Willis spoke about a project in the works based on history of the Olympian hotel. He is already making plans for the 2020 Center Salon.

Bryan Willis

Mistress of Ceremonies Amy Shephard, wearing a gorgeous gown, kicked off the evening with a rousing rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Dr. Feelgood,” momentarily turning the Washington Center’s black box theater into a rocking revival meeting.

Shephard then turned the microphone over to poet and publisher Christina Butcher, OLY ARTS contributor, founder of Blue Cactus Press in Tacoma and author of the poetry collection Still Clutching Maps. Butcher read four fiercely passionate poems including “My Grandpa Is Not a Drag Queen,” which might be the funniest and most touching poem ever about a funeral.

Christina Butcher

Olivia Archibald, Professor Emeritus of English at Saint Martin’s University read a personal essay about growing up in West Virginia, growing cabbage and making sauerkraut. Olympia novelist Jim Lynch, author of The Highest Tide, Before the Wind, Border Songs and Truth Like the Sun, read a laugh-out-loud satire on a noir short story called “The Soft Brain.”

Composer Gregory Youtz talked about his writing process, and singer Cyndia Sieden with Judith Cohen on piano performed his composition “Mountain Songs,” based on a set of three poems from Vashon Island poet Cal Kinnear’s collection “Heart Range” about hiking in the Olympics. Finally, Amy Pelo read Peggy Bruton’s short story “Missing Baby.”

The Center Salon will happen again in March 2020 with a new lineup of South Sound artists.

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