Rex Valentine wrote his first poem, an ode to SPAM, 83 years ago. Now 87 years old, the Elma resident continues writing poetry and composing music. “I’m just trying to keep everything going,” he added with a chuckle, “At my age, it doesn’t go like I planned, but I’ve sure had fun along the way.” A gifted storyteller, poet and musician, Valentine grew up in the Wynoochee Valley on a primitive dairy farm. His father taught him the value of hard work, and his mother saw to his education, teaching him to read at the age of three. Both parents instilled in their children a lifelong love of music.

Days began early on the farm, with Rex and his brother Randy milking cows to the beat of the songs they sang while they worked. Those early rhythms spilled into hundreds of poems through the years, as Rex turned his experiences into verse. His poetry captures the stories of his childhood for his grandchildren and preserves a rich history of Western Washington in the first half of the twentieth century. Valentine credits his Montesano High School English teacher, John Terry, with cementing his interest in writing poetry. However, other concerns soon intervened, and poetry fell to the back burner.

Valentine married young, eventually raising a blended family of 11 children. He built several successful careers through the years, including real estate and dairy farming. Along the way, he grew proficient at dowsing, the practice of using divining rods to locate water for digging wells. Music accompanied Valentine throughout his adult life. In addition to composing, he has sung for audiences across the Pacific Northwest. In fact, he sang baritone in a barbershop quartet that won a national championship in 1963, and also sang the national anthem at local sports events for 45 years.

In addition to writing several volumes of poetry, Valentine is also a gifted vocalist and composer. (Photo by Juliana Wallace) Then, in 2002, Valentine’s mother passed away, and he discovered that she had carefully saved his early poems. He began writing again, entering poetry contests and eventually publishing six books of poetry and stories. Intent on honing his craft, he enrolled in a college poetry writing class in his sixties. The additional polish did the trick, and he started winning national and international contests.

By 2004, Valentine earned induction into the World Congress of Poets, an international organization dedicated to promoting world brotherhood and peace through poetry. He still serves on the board of the organization and was featured as the guest poet of the 2014 conference in Osaka, Japan. As a poet, Valentine writes a broad range of poetic forms, from long narrative poems to sonnets, villanelles and hsinku verses (a Chinese form similar to haiku).

His folksy, often humorous, style draws the audience in, enchanting listeners of all ages. While many of his poems recount stories, he explains that he chose poetry over prose because “poetry is much more to the point, more refined. In a poem, you can say as much in one line as you can say in a whole page of a story.”

And those verses do spin wonderful tales, from dragsaw days to weeding the rutabaga patch, trapping skunks and resurrecting an old Model T Ford. Along the way, the reader meets a delightful cast of characters, falling into the rhythm of a life lived to its fullest.

Look for Rex Valentine’s books at and Amazon, as well as at your local library.

Valentine has written several volumes of award-winning poetry, a children’s book, a book on dowsing and numerous songs. (Photo by Juliana Wallace) To discover Valentine’s work, check out his website at In addition to several books of poetry and a volume on dowsing, he has also written an acclaimed children’s story, “Tiddlywinks, the Little Horse with Three Ears.” Look for Rex Valentine’s books at and Amazon, as well as at your local library.

Preserve Beauty

The little pansy poked its pretty face

up through the concrete crevice on the walk.

It’s singleness of purpose filled the space,

a tiny crack made for one spindly stalk.

Now why would nature send its beauty queen

to grace a graying path of cement stone,

where careless feet its royalty dethrone?

The Lord of beauty, love, and elegance,

is not particular where sows his seeds.

A drab and dingy place he might enhance

with lovely flowers ‘mid the grisly weeds.

So little purple pansy hold your ground.

May beauty be a beacon to your place,

that all who pass go carefully around

and see the smile upon your pretty face.

– Rex Valentine


Wildflowers and Love (Sonnet #24)

A prairie harbors treasures found in spring.

Its see-through grassy dress will come alive

with Nature’s own corsage; a lovely thing,

whose brill’ant colors suddenly arrive.

The yellow Johnny jump-ups set the pace.

The violets and bluebells follow suit.

Wild strawberry’s white blossoms fill the space

where later, one can pick its sweet red fruit.

Nostalgically, my grandmother I see,

she’s stooping down, her apron spreading wide

enveloping the flowers picked for me.

Her sparkling eyes meet mine with love and pride.

Oh prairie, take me back to long lost joy,

To Grandma’s love, and flowers for this boy.

– Rex Valentine


From Belt to Suspenders

(Sonnet #9)

My belt size is increasing

as I am growing older.

I’m really not obesing,

just narrowing my shoulders.

But now my pants are dragging;

my belt is at a tilt.

So I have stopped all bragging

about how well I’m built.

I think I’ll wear suspenders;

they’ll give me peace of mind,

and when I’m doing benders

you won’t see my behind.

Does it really matter

if I keep getting fatter?

– Rex Valentine