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Washington poet laureate visits Vancouver School of Arts and Academics Some of the top creative writing students at the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics (VSAA) discussed craft, higher education, and the writing life with Washington state’s 2012-2014 poet laureate, Kathleen Flenniken, during National Poetry Month in April.
Flenniken is the author of two books, “Famous” and “Plume.” The former, a collection of poems about domesticity, won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award, as well as named a Notable Book by the American Library Association. Her honors also include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Artist Trust, a Pushcart Prize, and grants from Artist Trust and the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.
Working with Flenniken, the young poets wrote and shared tritinas, a miniature version of an intricate type of formal poetry called a sestina. Both forms use repetition to achieve their desired effects.
Later, the conversation turned to the merits of pursuing creative writing degrees and professions versus typically more lucrative options. Flenniken, who started writing poetry after several years of working as a hydrologist and civil engineer, spoke about the need for writers to market themselves. “We’re constantly asked to step out of our comfort zones,” she said.
She also called poetry a “marginalized art” and encouraged the students to join and support poetry communities. She added, “If we [poets] don’t take care of each other, no one will.”