WWU Welcomes Washington State Poet Laureate

May 3 Event Features Kathleen Flenniken

By: Rosa Jimenez

Kathleen Flenniken

Kathleen Flenniken, Washington State Poet Laureate, will present poetry readings on Thursday, May 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Chan Shun Room 154.

In addition to reading her own poetry, Flenniken will also present the work of local poets.

Flenniken began writing poetry after leaving her job of eight years as a civil engineer and hydrologist to stay home with her young children. "I took a night class in poetry—and I've taken it seriously ever since," Flenniken says.

Flenniken's first book of poetry, "Famous," featured selections centered on her daily domestic life. "Famous" won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry and was named a Notable Book by the American Library Association and a finalist for the Washington State Book Award.

In 2004, she began writing about the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, where she had spent eight years of her career. Her reflections will appear in her second collection of poetry, "Plume," which was published in January by University of Washington Press.

Author Martha Collins says this about Flenniken’s second book: “Moving deftly between haunting lyric and disturbing documentary, Kathleen Flenniken packages recent history in a wide variety of poetic forms and styles. Set at the Hanford plutonium production site, where the poet grew up and about which she has done impressive research, Flenniken’s “Plume” raises the bar for documentary poetry, moving us with its timely and important subject matter as well as the meticulous craft of its poems.”

Flenniken’s poems have appeared in "The Iowa Review," "Prairie Schooner," "Poetry," "The Writer's Almanac," "Poetry Daily," "American Life in Poetry," and many other journals and anthologies.

Flenniken teaches poetry and is co-editor and president of Floating Bridge Press, a non-profit organization dedicated to publishing Washington poets. She lives in Seattle, Wash. Flenniken, who received this appointment in February of this year, is the state’s second poet laureate. She will serve a two-year term as the primary spokesperson, supporter and promoter of poetry in the state. The position is sponsored by Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission. It is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities Washington.

Flenniken was selected poet laureate by a selection committee that included the director of the Washington State Arts Commission, the head of the Washington State Library Association, the head of the Washington State Center for the Book, and two independent advisers, including Dan Lamberton, professor of English at Walla Walla University.

To see an introduction to Flenniken’s second book, "Plume," click link below.

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