Kathleen Flenniken is the 2012-2014 Poet Laureate of Washington State. She has two published poetry books (Famous and Plume), is co-editor and president of Floating Bridge Press in Seattle, a press dedicated to publishing the poetry of Washington State poets. And she is the president of the board at Jack Straw Productions.
Kathleen began her professional life as a civil engineer and hydrologist, three years of which were at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. She retired from her career to stay at home with her young children. During that time she took a poetry class and has been serious about poetry ever since. (See below for photography “Behind the Scenes.”)
Here is one of Kathleen’s poems from her new book, Plume (University of Washington Press 2011):
Richland Dock, 2006
The Columbia Rolls on,
unimpressed with the desert,
a king and his court
plowing through crowds of serfs.
The river is unattached.
It’s a girl who doesn’t need boys
in order to dance, a school of fish
with a single conscience,
an endless line of warrior ants.
The river speaks French
in a land of inferior grammar.
The river is blue in a field of brown,
green in a field of grey,
black in a field of bronze.
The river shuns the desert.
It holds its tongue.
It saves itself for the ocean.
The river is fast, undammed.
Rapunzel’s hair let down.
And won’t allow this
shrub-steppe plain to climb it.
The river won’t lend itself
to grow a tree. Look––
sagebrush flush with its banks.
No meeting, no kiss, no marriage.
Look at the tumbleweeds.
The river bathes in its glory,
the desert eats dust. The river
belongs to somewhere else.
The mighty river passes untouching.
But not untouched.
See Kathleen’s website: www.kathleenflenniken.com
The Far Field (the Poet Laureate site): kathleenflenniken.com/blog
Behind the Scenes for photographers:
I wanted to create a photograph that would reflect the warmth of Kathleen’s personality and her lovely character. I chose to use window light combined with a Westcott continuous light soft box. This photograph was lit using a north window light on the left of the photo and the light box directly in front of Kathleen. There is a small amount of fill on the right side of the frame provided by a sheet of foam core. We went through several changes of clothing, actually starting with this purple top and coming back around to it as the best option.