Monday, April 19, 2010

5 Star Citizen-Poet: Kathleen Flenniken

This week's 5 Star Citizen Award goes to Seattle's own Kathleen Flenniken. Kathleen is the author of Famous, winner of the Prairie Schooner Award. In addition to being a stellar poet, Kathleen is also involved in teaching, editing, and nurturing the Washington State poetry scene. As president of Floating Bridge Press, Kathleen works with three other dedicated editors to produce an archival quality chapbook each year along with the Floating Bridge Review. A long time poet in the school, Kathleen works with 3rd through 5th graders, opening them up to a world of poetry. However, it is for her new manuscript, Atomic City, that Kathleen receives this prize. The poems in Atomic City tell the story of Kathleen growing up in Eastern Washington where her father worked at Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Later, as a trained engineer, Kathleen also worked here. The collection is superb in its multifaceted approach to the complexities of growing up among tales of patriotism and deceit - both in mythic proportion. Flenniken has spent years researching the history (and present day) of Hanford. Atomic City has been called "a lover's quarrel with her country." Kathleen reads Thursday at Ballard Library, May 13th @ 6:00 PM.


Tonight blame Kiri Te Kanawa
infusing the kitchen with her aria,
blame the mixed bouquet of basil
and flayed tomatoes and onions
and one expansive high note blooming
like a rose in fast-frame.
Here in the audience,
even in middle age, a little voice sings
from the back of the auditorium
of my throat. Aren’t all of us
waiting to be discovered?
Men and women enter the grand halls
of regional sales meetings
pressing nametags to dresses and ties.
I have been one of those
entering hopefully, conducting
delicate exchanges in hotel rooms.
I have called those pale disclosures
my life. Blame the cheap seats
we bought in the balcony.
We barely hear the little cogs
in our own hearts. Mozart, they say,
heard entire operas in a moment--
second violins, a glaze of harp,
heroic voices in the chorus all
clamoring to be realized
at once. My genius may be small,
but sometimes truth rolls right at me
like a hard head of cabbage
and I see myself that suddenly,
draining the pasta.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful poem. So many wonderful lines, and that great ending!