Dale Goodvin reading from his new book at Blend Wine Shop in May. Photo by Ed Johnson, KP News

Fans celebrated the publication of Dale Goodvin’s first book last month with a reception at Blend Wine Shop in Key Center. “Kansas Whispers and Midnight Blues: Dodging Despair, Deception and Clowns” is now available to the public.

Goodvin credits local author Jerry Libstaff and his Watermark Writers group for supporting his writing.

The audience reaction to a public reading Goodvin gave in Gig Harbor two years ago led to his decision to publish. Several people gave him positive feedback, including Ted Olinger (author and now executive editor of KP News).

“He said, ‘You need to write a book, man,'” said Goodvin. Some time later, Olinger pushed again: “How’s that book coming along, Dale?”

“Kansas Whispers and Midnight Blues” is a book of poetry and photographs that Goodvin describes as autobiographical in feeling and spirit. Goodvin has been a photographer for years and especially likes abstracts. He has exhibited and sold locally and has several photographs in the permanent collection at the University of Washington Tacoma campus library. Each poem in the book is paired with one of his photos.

The poet grew up in Kansas, one of five children. His mother died when he was 2.

“It was a profound event, a critical moment,” Goodvin said. “But you can retain your essence when you lose a mother if you have a lot of love to balance that loss. I didn’t have that.”

Though he thinks his father did the best he could, Goodvin described him as very unhappy and angry. He died when Goodvin was 17.

“He was a manipulator, and I thought I was the problem,” he said.

Goodvin went to college, majored in English, and then taught high school English. At 26, he was ready to leave Kansas.

“I knew someone with relatives in Tacoma,” he said, “and so I moved.” He lived in Tacoma and then Gig Harbor, working at the University of Puget Sound and later at the library at UW Tacoma. While at UPS, he took advantage of free tuition for employees and earned a master’s degree in child and family counseling. He found the experience of working with people very powerful, he said, but was not tempted to become a therapist and continued his work in the library until he retired.

Trish, his wife of 26 years, has roots on the Key Peninsula; her parents had a home on Filucy Bay. Five years ago they put down their own roots by moving into that home.

“The Key Peninsula is the best community to live in I have ever known,” Goodvin said. “There are so many creative people—artists and writers.”

Self-publishing his book proved to be an ordeal. Goodvin said it is nearly impossible for new literary authors to find a publishing company. Self-publishing may be the only way to get one’s work in print, but the problem, he said, is there are no set standards and the public’s perception is that such books are not worthwhile.

“I worked to make this as high quality as any book out there,” Goodvin said. He did his own editing and formatting, with the help of friends. He proofread more times than he can remember. His sleep was often interrupted by nightmares about punctuation.

“It’s like childbirth,” he said. “You forget the pain pretty quickly.” And, as many women have more than one child, Goodvin is already thinking about a second book.

“Kansas Whispers and Midnight Blues: Dodging Despair, Deception and Clowns” is available online through Amazon and locally at Blend Wine Shop in Key Center and Cost Less Pharmacy in Wauna.

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