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That’s right. The State of Washington has an official poet laureate.
The current biennial term is about to expire. The deadline for nominating the 2014-2015 laureate is this Friday, November 8th, 2013.
To learn how poets can self-nominate, or be nominated by others, visit this Humanities Washington webpage. Humanities Washington and ArtsWA (the Washington State Arts Commission) sponsor the program with the support of the Governor. The position is funded by both the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities Washington.
In 2007, the Washington State legislature joined several other states in recognizing the value of poetry to our culture and heritage by establishing the position. Its $10,000 yearly stipend provided by the NEA and Humanities Washington helps cover the cost of the poet providing programs and activities statewide during her or his two-year term.
Washington State’s poet laureate is tasked with building awareness and appreciation of poetry through public readings, workshops, lectures and presentations in communities, schools, colleges, universities and other public settings in geographically diverse areas throughout the state.
The outgoing poet laureate, Kathleen Flenniken, was appointed in February 2012. I was fortunate to have her read for my Words’ Worth poetry program. She read twice when Sybil James was curating, in 2011 and again in 2012, and she read back in 2001, when Carlos Martinez curated.
Raised in Richland and living in Seattle, Flenniken holds engineering degrees from Washington State University and the University of Washington and a Masters in Fine Arts from Pacific Lutheran University. She is president of Floating Bridge Press, a nonprofit organization dedicated to publishing Washington poets, and teaches poetry writing to students with funding from ArtsWA, Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Writers in the Schools program and Jack Straw Productions.
Flenniken’s published two books – Famous (University of Nebraska Press, 2006), which won her the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, and Plume (University of Washington Press, 2012).
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