English Department Welcomes Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken

Written by Laura Paskin
Photography by Rosanne Olson
March 5, 2013

Washington’s Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken joined the English department faculty for the winter quarter 2013. Flenniken, who is teaching lyric poetry, was appointed Washington’s Poet Laureate by Governor Christine Gregoire. As Poet Laureate, Flenniken  is building awareness and appreciation of poetry by visiting all 39 Washington counties, working with teachers and students, and holding public readings, workshops, and presentations throughout the state.

Flenniken's course emphasizes writing in forms, including traditional sonnets, villanelles, pantoums and sestinas, along with a few more contemporary forms like the cross-genre Pecha Kucha.

“Pecha Kucha is a new form that combines PowerPoint visuals with poetry,” Flenniken said. “It’s 20 short linked poems, or one poem in 20 parts. The constraint is time rather than line length--the presentation must be completed in 6:40, and each slide is 20 seconds long."

Flenniken will help host a Pecha Kucha evening at Richard Hugo House in Seattle at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9. The event features local poets and writers.

Flenniken received her MFA in creative writing from Pacific Lutheran University. She is president of Floating Bridge Press, a nonprofit organization dedicated to publishing Washington poets. Her first book, Famous  (University of Nebraska Press, 2006), won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. Her second collection, Plume  (University of Washington Press, 2012), was a finalist for the Pacific Northwest Book Award.

The College of Arts and Sciences, the largest college in Seattle University, offers 42 undergraduate majors, 37 minors, and 7 master's degrees.