State's poet laureate to appear at Port Townsend reading Thursday

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND ญญ— Washington State Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken will come to the Port Townsend Library, 1220 Lawrence St., for a celebration of poetry this Thursday.

There's no charge for the 6:30 p.m. event, titled “Poetry in Place,” upstairs in the library's remodeled Carnegie Room.

Flenniken will join noted local poet Stan Sanvel Rubin, who's releasing a new book titled There.Here., for a reading. Then the two will stick around for a reception with refreshments and conversation.

Flenniken grew up in Richland, near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, and worked for eight years as a civil engineer and hydrologist, including three years at Hanford.

When she quit work to stay home with her young children, Flenniken started writing; she attended a poetry workshop and fell in “instant love,” she has said, with the practice.

For years, Flenniken wrote poetry about her daily domestic life, and in 2006 she published Famous, a collection that went on to win the Prairie Schooner Book Prize.

But even before Famous came out, the poet had begun a different project.

For close to six years, she wrote about the Hanford site, where plutonium was produced for 40 years, and about life in its bedroom community of Richland.

Plume, her resulting book of poetry, is part memoir, part history, part cautionary tale, part quest.

She's given readings from Plume in cities throughout Washington, including Port Angeles, along with poetry workshops.

And as poet laureate — designated by the nonprofit Humanities Washington and ArtsWA — she urges newcomers to attend this Thursday's event.

“I was in my 30s when I attended my first poetry reading,” Flenniken has said.

She's since won the Pushcart Prize along with her appointment as Washington's second poet laureate in 2011.

She receives an annual stipend of $10,000 for the readings, workshops and classes she offers for children, teens and adults around the state.

Now a Seattle resident, Flenniken also is president of Floating Bridge Press, a nonprofit organization dedicated to publishing Washington poets.

Rubin, for his part, directed the Brockport Writers Forum at the State University of New York for many years, and then moved to the North Olympic Peninsula in 2003 as founding director of the Rainier Writing Workshop low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University.

His books preceding There.Here. include 2006's Hidden Sequel, which won the Barrow Street Poetry Prize; 2004's Five Colors and 1995's Midnight.

The poets' books will be for sale Thursday evening. For more details, phone the library at 360-385-3181.


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at

Last modified: December 09. 2013 6:46PM
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