Dick Seed's a poet and didn't know it.
He does now, though.
Seed will read his poetry this weekend at Olympia's Arts Walk, a twice-yearly celebration of arts of all sorts by artists of all sorts - from kindergarteners to professional artists to those who, like Seed, create art simply for the love of it.
Offerings range from paintings, poetry and sculpture to films, music and performance art, plus face painting for the kids. People-watching, though, is surely the highlight of the weekend.
And Seed, a matter-of-fact fellow who laughs frequently, blushes when he's complimented and writes poetry that's unabashedly sentimental, is something to see.
The 62-year-old maintenance man and former salmon fisherman began writing in 2006 after his wife, Connie, died of cancer.
"I felt compelled to tell people about her," he says. "I thought, ‘If I don't say something about her, who's going to?'
"I didn't even know they were poems at first; people had to tell me they were poems."
He wrote some notes that appeared in the program for Connie's funeral, and then he began writing more, first sharing his work aloud at a support group for people who'd recently lost a spouse.
Most of the poems begin "Hi Hon."
"He read me a poem on the phone, and I got teary eyed," says Stephanie Johnson, Olympia's arts and events manager. "He's a person who found comfort in the arts."
He's read his work at the Olympia Poetry Network's meetings and won a few poetry contests. These days, he belongs to a writer's group.
And he created a book, with simple photocopied pages collected in a simple binder of the sort used to present essays at school. The cover is a photocopied picture of Connie with the handwritten title From the Heart: A Tribute to My Connie. Beginning at Arts Walk, a self-published version of the book will be available at Last Word Books, 211 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia.
It's quite an accomplishment for a man who never finished high school. "I got through the ninth grade," he says. "Twice."
He says he'd never written anything before, but pressed, he remembers a few past writings - a note to a girl that his brother intercepted and teased him about, love notes to a high-school sweetheart and a small-town newspaper piece inspired by the death of Jackie Kennedy.
When I observe that his writing seems to fit a theme, Seed laughs and turns red.
When he first shared his work with others, he says, he was too shy even to read it out loud. "I'm not good at reading in front of people," he says.
But these days, he is. As soon as I called him, he offered to read me a poem, a poem about the everyday joys of life in a 30-year marriage, including eating the first cookie from the cookie sheet.
These days, it's harder to get him to stop reading than to get him started.
DOWNTOWN OLYMPIA, ARTS WALK XLIV, FRIDAY, APRIL 27 5-10 P.M., SATURDAY, APRIL 28 NOON TO 8 P.M., FREE, MAPS AT PARTICIPATING BUSINESSES AND AT THE OLYMPIA CENTER, 222 COLUMBIA ST. NW, OLYMPIA, 360.753.8380, FULL SCHEDULE AT ARTSWALKOLYMPIA.COM