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State Poet Laureate Wins Book Award for Hanford-Based 'Plume'

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Flenniken.

Washington state’s poet laureate Kathleen Flenniken has been awarded the Washington Book Award.

Flenniken’s new work of poetry, titled “Plume,” recounts her childhood in the nuclear-company town of Richland.

Flenniken says she was afraid a book about secrets and sickness around the Hanford Nuclear Reservation would anger people, but she says that hasn’t happened.

“I think one of the lessons there is that we are ready to think about this and talk about it,” she said. “I think we can learn from our mistakes and go forward, as long as we’re honest.”

Flenniken and the other winners of the Washington Book Award will receive $500 honoraria and a party in Seattle in their honor.

Other books honored include: “The Orchardist” by novelist Amanda Coplin, “The Rocks Don’t Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood” by David Montgomery, and the children’s book “Those Rebels, John & Tom” by Barbara Kerley and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.