Local duo pens new book about the Northwest

By Alyssa Evans

Ferndale residents Diane Lau Cordrey and Gary Cordrey have always loved the water.

“We’ve always had this affinity to the water,” Diane said. “I paddled, swam, surfed. And Gary remembers being on the beach ever since he can remember.”

After about a year of work, Diane and Gary are sharing their passion through their book “Northwest Waters: Reflections in Pictures & Poetry.”

Courtesy photo

“We came to this point in our life which is our last trimester and wondered what we could do to provide something not only for our children but kind of a legacy,” Diane said.

The book features poems written by Diane and photographs of the Salish Sea taken by Gary. Diane grew up in Hawaii and Gary in southern California. The pair met in Riverside, California, where they lived for several years until moving to Whatcom County. The pair has spent time at the Blaine marina, as well as throughout the Puget Sound.

“Because [the water] is so much a part of our lives and we love it, that’s where a lot of the photographs are – out on the islands and the sea,” Diane said. “We’d go out and sit in the bay. He would take photographs or take one of the kayaks and go off, and I would sit on the boat and write.”

Diane has always been fascinated by rhythms and hears rhythms in everything, she said. Growing up, she realized she enjoyed the rhythms of the ocean, drums and tap dancing. The transition from natural rhythms to putting words with rhythms was natural for Diane, she said.

As an adult, Diane worked as a clinical psychologist where she found that if someone had trouble expressing their feelings, poetry often helped them. Diane has always used poetry in her work, she said.

Gary has been taking photos for several years as a hobby outside his work as a financial adviser. To get the book to its final product, Gary sorted through thousands of photos he took over a 12-year period to find those that he and Diane both liked. From there, Diane either found poems she had written or wrote new poems to accompany the photos. Most of the poems were written to fit the photos.

Diane Lau Cordrey and Gary Cordrey.

“Some people will like things, some people it won’t connect with at all,” Diane said. “But I was hoping that a reader could open to a page and it would somehow touch them. And they would sit and contemplate, and maybe something would come up that was important to them from their heart.”

Diane and Gary recently established Plover Landing Press, a small press for poets to publish chapbooks and trade paperbacks. The book is a result of an effort of the press, Diane said.

The pair has had several people contact them and discuss particular photographs and poems that impacted them, Gary said.

One reader told the Cordreys that they were having a hard year but felt they knew where they were going after reading the book. Another reader said they had tears come to their eyes while reading the book on the beach, Diane said.

“We didn’t expect that we would have that kind of impact but we hoped that someone would find it therapeutic,”
Diane said.

Copies of the book are sold in Village Books, Blaine Bouquets, Paddle & Pedal Adventures and Semiahmoo Marine Store.

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