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Kathleen Flenniken

The new state Poet Laureate, Kathleen Flenniken asked me to help get the word out about her focus as the 2nd Poet Laureate of the state of Washington, the state poetry questionnaire. I agreed and put the application on the SPLAB website and then filled one out myself. What you see is my application below. Kathleen has agreed to read at the Cascadia Poetry Festival on March 25. Gold Passes are available now for $50, but will probably be gone by March 24th, the fest’s first day. & you know how small and intimate SPLAB is, right?!?



Paul E Nelson,, King County, 206.422.5002.


SPLAB founder Paul E Nelson wrote Organic Poetry (VDM Verlag, Germany, 2008) & a serial poem re-enacting the history of Auburn, Washington, A Time Before Slaughter (Apprentice House, 2010) shortlisted for a Genius Award in Literature by The Stranger. In 26 years of radio he interviewed Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Anne Waldman, Sam Hamill, Robin Blaser, Nate Mackey, Eileen Myles, Wanda Coleman, George Bowering, Joanne Kyger, Jerome Rothenberg & others, including many Northwest poets. He lives in Seattle and writes at least one American Sentence every day.

Do you have any particular thematic concerns that appear frequently in your work (Examples:  war, politics, history, violence, doctoring, health-healing, family, marriage, divorce, sex, sport, domestic life, environment, farming, aging, love)?

All of the above, but I am particularly interested in the serial poem, as practiced by Robin Blaser, Nate Mackey and Michael McClure, as well as Cascadia and the re-enactment of regional history in verse. (See A Time Before Slaughter about the history of Auburn, Washington.) Salish myth and cosmology, the latihan kedjiwaan of Subud and Hua-yen Buddhism are other sub-themes. I am currently working on a book that includes the Pig War and Cascadia. I also write 17 syllable poems called American Sentences and have had a daily practice of this for over eleven years.



I am curating poetry readings in all 39 Washington counties over my two-year tenure. I envision a variety of readers that represent the breadth and depth of our poetry community; many will take place in remote areas.  Please note too that I hope to bring new poets to the attention of local audiences, so preference will be given to poets from out of county. These events will be hosted by public libraries and well publicized.  I plan to read along with 2-3 other poets; readings will last about an hour.  In many cases there will be in addition a reception, workshop, open mike, or other event.   I don’t yet have dates, so your answers will be theoretical for now—answer as best you can.  If you want to add comments with your answers, please feel free.

In some cases I will be able to reimburse readers for some travel costs or offer a small honorarium. I have a very limited budget, however.

Please note if you can ONLY consider traveling if you are reimbursed.___________________________

Please note if you can only travel in certain months of the year, and which.

With advance warning, I can travel in the state almost any time.


Refer to the county map above (  Note that if you click on the individual counties listed below, they link to a more detailed map.

Indicate on the list below the counties where you would be willing to read by checking with an X.  Or, check “ALL” or geographic region:


(Clallam, Jefferson, Grays Harbor, Mason)________

NORTHEAST (Pend Oreille, Stevens, Ferry, Okanogan, Lincoln, Spokane)_______

SOUTHEAST (Adams, Whitman, Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield, Asotin)______

NORTHWEST (San Juan, Island, Kitsap, Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King, Pierce)_______
SOUTHWEST (Pacific, Wahkiakum ,Thurston, Lewis, Cowlitz, Clark, Skamania)_______

CENTRAL (Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Kittitas, Yakima, Klickitat)_______

* Adams______
* Asotin_______
* Benton______
* Chelan______
* Clallam______
* Clark________
* Columbia____
* Cowlitz______
* Douglas______
* Ferry_______
* Franklin_____
* Garfield_____
* Grant_______
* Grays Harbor____
* Island_____
* Jefferson_____
* King_______
* Kitsap______
* Kittitas______
* Klickitat_____
* Lewis_______
* Lincoln______
* Mason______
* Okanogan______
* Pacific________
* Pend Oreille_______
* Pierce_______
* San Juan_______
* Skagit______
* Skamania_______
* Snohomish______
* Spokane______
* Stevens______
* Thurston______
* Wahkiakum______
* Walla Walla______
* Whatcom______
* Whitman______
* Yakima________


If you have authored a published book or books of poetry, would you be willing to donate and ship to me one or more copies

1 for The Poet Laureate Library
which will pass to succeeding laureates and used as an ongoing resource? (One copy only)

3 for Libraries across the state who have requested poetry donations?   How many copies? _______

If you check either box, I will be in contact with you about your donation.  Thank you for considering it!


The Far Field is a new poetry blog sponsored by the Poet Laureate program that highlights poetry written by Washington State poets.  Each week I’ll publish several poems from a variety of voices.  I hope to include student work, poems from the spoken word community, established and emerging poets—I want to represent the gamut.  Please remember this is a site to encourage young writers too; I will be selecting poems that are suitable for a general audience.  Remember too that variety is a virtue—don’t limit yourself to poems about Washington.

I will be soliciting work and accepting submissions too. You may submit up to five poems for consideration in an attachment or a separate email.  Please attach all poems in a single WORD or PDF file.  Your name and contact information should appear on each page.

I prefer previously published material as long as you hold the copyright. If you do not hold the copyright, you must secure permission before you submit. Your submission implies that you give permission to me and to Humanities Washington to publish. While I can’t guarantee publication, I do look forward to reading your work.

Send all submissions to

Please let me know if there are any Washington State poetry-related events, organizations, presses, or magazines that I have overlooked in The Far Field (  You know your area better than I do.  List those additions below, with a URL if possible.  I hope The Far Field will become a useful resource for poets and that begins with you.

Is there anything else you’d like me to know?  I am planning to go into remote area schools to lead poetry workshops, focusing on 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.  Perhaps you know of an especially worthy and needy school or population?  I’d like to know about them.  Do you recognize a specific need in your community?  Please send your suggestions along now or later.

My poetry-oriented non-profit organization is always in need of funders. We’d appreciate any consideration regarding that. I am considering moving to New Zealand to do a Ph.D. in poetry. A formal proposal can be provided. Would there be an institution in Washington that would provide a similar arrangement (free tuition and an annual stipend for three years, allowing me to study my preferred line of inquiry) I would prefer to stay in the state.

I am interested in innovative poetry and am curious why Seattle has lagged behind other cities in the region: Vancouver BC, Portland and San Francisco regarding innovation. I would like to see this dialog fostered with panels and essays. Thanks for your consideration.

Thank you for completing this questionnaire as soon as possible.  The information you provide is important to me and to the Poet Laureate program.

Kathleen Flenniken
2012 – 2014 Washington State Poet Laureate

Paul Nelson