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Rex Valentine special guest at 2014 World Congress of Poets

Who says you can’t make a living writing poetry?

OK, well, maybe not a living, but highly decorated local poet Rex Valentine, is getting an expenses-paid trip to Japan this week, thanks to his longtime poem-writing prowess.

On March 20, Valentine and his wife, Diane, embark on a 10-day trip to Osaka, Japan, where he will serve as the “special guest poet” to the 2014 World Congress of Poets.

Valentine has attended the World Congress before — in Greece, Nicaragua and China — and has won numerous top prizes there for his poetry. This time, he will go as an honoree, which means most of his expenses other than airfare will be covered. It will be the Valentines first-ever trip to Japan.

“It’s going to be quite a deal,” Valentine said. “It’s quite an opportunity. You just don’t get that very often on an international basis.”

Valentine, of Elma, released his sixth poetry book late in 2012. The book, “Poetry To Ponder,” is a collection of poems written in a variety of styles. With something for everyone, the subjects range from religious to humorous, and are based on Valentine’s local experiences and history, he said. Valentine grew up in the Wynooche Valley, and has also published a children’s book, a music book and two non-fiction books that feature a collection of stories from Valentine’s life.

Valentine will deliver an opening address and poetry meeting at the 23rd gathering of the Congress of Poets. He may also lead a seminar, if asked to do so by organizers.

“I told them I would do whatever they asked and that’s kind of where we left it,” said Valentine.

He and his wife are looking forward to the trip, though not necessarily the 12-hour, non-stop flight from Seattle to Osaka. After the weeklong gathering, the Valentines will tour part of the country with friends and fellow poets.

“After 10 years of going to these, I have a lot of friends there now,” he said. “We’ll be able to get out in the communities and see how they live. It should be very educational for us.”

And will they sample the local fare, such as sushi, arguably Japan’s most famous culinary export?

“I’ll eat sushi,” said Valentine. “It’s not my favorite, but I do eat it now and then. I don’t think Diane does, though.

A Montesano High School graduate, Valentine has lived in the East County area his whole life, currently residing on a beef ranch. He and his wife raised 11 children and have dozens of grandchildren. Valentine has been selling real estate most of his adult life and recently joined the Riley Jackson Real Estate firm in Montesano.

A biography posted on the real estate firm’s website notes, “Rex at one time owned and operated three real estate businesses plus a construction company that built or contracted to build over 180 homes, and has platted land to create over 500 building sites. He was the highest producing real estate salesman in Grays Harbor County his first 37 years, and several years afterwards.”

Valentine’s “Poetry To Ponder” and all of his other books are available for purchase online at www.rexbvalentine.com. To purchase directly from Valentine, call him at (360) 470-3358. Some of his books are also available at Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.