Washington’s poet laureate visits Sammamish for a reading
March 28, 2013
By Lillian O'Rorke
April is National Poetry Month, and to celebrate, the city of Sammamish is inviting local poets and poetry lovers to spend the evening with the state’s Poet Laureate, Kathleen Flenniken.
“We are so honored to have the poet laureate here in Sammamish,” said Daphne Robinson, chairwoman of the Sammamish Arts Commission, which is sponsoring the free event April 2.
As Washington’s Poet Laureate, Flenniken travels around the state giving public readings, workshops and lectures to build awareness and appreciation of poetry.
Before she was named to the position in 2012, Flenniken published her first book, “Famous,” in 2006 and won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. For her second collection, “Plume,” Flenniken focused on the Hanford nuclear site, which is near her hometown of Richland. That work was recently chosen for the Pacific Northwest Poetry Series.
Robinson said it was on a radio show that she first heard Flenniken’s poetry.
“It’s lovely. And its lovely to hear her read it as well,” Robinson said, explaining that hearing the writer read their poem out loud gives the work clarity. “You understand the poem even better because it gives it the right texture and cadence.”
Also planning to share his poetry at the event is Sammamish’s own Michael Dylan Welch. As a poet himself, and the vice president of the Haiku Society of America, Welch has known Flenniken for the better part of a decade and invited the poet laureate to visit Sammamish. He describes her and her work as wide-ranging, unafraid and honest.
If all goes well, Flenniken and Welch will not be the only ones doing poetry readings. The evening is also meant to give people the chance to come and share their poetry in an open-mic setting.
What he hopes for, Welch said, is to find that he is not alone in his passion for poetry and that other plateau poets will emerge.
“I think the purpose of poetry is to share it,” he said. “Whether you do that through a poetry reading, or publication…if you don’t share your poem you miss out on something.”
Writing poetry also has its challenges and having a community of other poets, he added, can help you navigate through those.
The evening kicks off at 6:30 p.m. April 2 at the Sammamish Library and is free.
“I am delighted to see poetry be included in the Arts Commission,” Welch said. Already, he added, surrounding cities like Issaquah have regular poetry events and Redmond has its own poet laureate. “In a way, this is a mark of Sammamish growing up.”