The Jewel Box Poets Sunday Reading Series continues Jan. 21 with Seattle poets Kathleen Flenniken and Josie Emmons Turner.
The series is hosted by Poulsbo poet Jenifer Lawrence, author of the recently published book of poetry, “One Hundred Steps from Shore.”
Flenniken’s first collection of poetry, “Famous,” won the 2005 Prairie Schooner Prize in Poetry and was released by University of Nebraska Press in 2006.
In addition to writing poetry and mothering three children, Flenniken teaches creative writing at a private high school in Seattle and is co-editor of Floating Bridge Press, which publishes “Pontoon,” an annual anthology of Washington State poets.
In 2005 Flenniken was awarded a Literary Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. She recently talked about the award, and the attached check for $20,000.
“I took a year off from teaching,” she said. “It was a great psychological boost. I felt I was being taken seriously. It gave me confidence.”
Flenniken used the money to carve out private office space in her home, which gave her the space to reorder her manuscript for “Famous.”
She will read from that book at the Jewel Box Theatre Sunday. She described the collection as a look at ordinary domestic life.
“I’m very interested in the details of life, in what gets us through the day,” she said.
Her “story of life” poetry is inspired by simple things such as her son losing his coat, books she has read, or the birth of a child.
She related that she was once inspired to write a poem titled “Dust” after hearing a radio program about dust.
One critic said of “Famous,” “There’s a winning surface modesty here: it isn’t Abraham Lincoln who merits the poem, but his oft-maligned wife; not Edna St. Vincent Millay, but her stay-at-home husband; not the Taj Mahal, but the everyday International House of Pancakes. Still, in Flenniken’s hands, these occasions rise toward urgent news — as when, in ‘Shampoo,’ the memory of a mother’s declining health soulfully becomes one with the headline about a submarine’s sinking — until the least most of us are transformed, poem by poem, into the famous.”
Flenniken is working on a master’s in fine arts degree at Pacific Lutheran University, along with fellow poet Josie Emmons Turner.
Turner has been a featured reader at the Tacoma Distinguished Writers Series and at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle. She is currently teaching a poetry class in Tacoma Community College’s Continuing Education program.
During a tenure as Auburn’s cultural programs director in 1996 Turner was instrumental in creating a professional orchestra for the city. She is currently Culture and Tourism Manager for Tacoma.
Flenniken and Turner read at 3 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Jewel Box Theatre, 225 Iverson St., Poulsbo. The reading is free but donations to support the theater are appreciated.