Past State Poet Laureates
Tod Marshall: 2016-18
Gonzaga professor and award-winning poet, Tod Marshall, was appointed the fourth Washington State Poet Laureate by Governor Jay Inslee in January 2016. Marshall’s term runs February 1, 2016, to January 31, 2018. He is the first State Poet Laureate from Eastern Washington. He succeeds Elizabeth Austen, the state’s previous laureate, who served from 2014–2016. Kathleen Flenniken (2012–2014) and Sam Green (2007–2009) held the position prior to Austen.
Marshall is the author of three poetry collections: Dare Say (2002), The Tangled Line (2009), and Bugle (2014). Dare Say, Marshall's first collection of poetry, was the 2002 winner of the University of Georgia’s Contemporary Poetry Series. The Tangled Line, his second poetry collection was published by Canarium Press in 2009, and was a finalist for the Washington Book Award. His third collection of poetry, Bugle, was published by Canarium, and won the Washington State Book Award in 2015. Marshall has also published a collection of his interviews with contemporary poets, Range of the Possible (EWU Press, 2002), which was named to the New York City Public Library Poetry Book List for 2003; and an accompanying anthology of the interviewed poets’ work, Range of Voices (2005). In 2005, he was awarded a Washington Artists Trust Fellowship. He is also the recipient of the 2015 Humanities Washington Award for Scholarship and Service.
Marshall was born in Buffalo, New York and grew up in Wichita, Kansas. He studied English and philosophy at Siena Heights University, earned an MFA from Eastern Washington University, and graduated with his Ph.D. from The University of Kansas. He lives in Spokane, Washington, and teaches at Gonzaga University where he is the Robert K. and Ann J. Powers Professor Chair of the Humanities. Read about Tod Marshall's WA129 project,
2014-16: Elizabeth Austen
Elizabeth Austen's debut collection, Every Dress a Decision (Blue Begonia Press, 2011) was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. She’s also the author of two chapbooks, The Girl Who Goes Alone (Floating Bridge Press, 2010), Where Currents Meet (Toadlily Press, 2010) and an audio CD, skin prayers. Her poems have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac and Verse Daily, in the Los Angeles Review, Bellingham Review and Willow Springs. She is noted for her engaging public performances of poetry, and has been featured at Poets House in New York City, Minneapolis's The Loft, the Skagit River Poetry Festival, Spokane's Get Lit!, Seattle's Cheap Wine and Poetry and Bumbershoot, among others. Elizabeth produces poetry programming for NPR-affiliate KUOW 94.9, and earned an MFA at Antioch University Los Angeles. She makes her living at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where she also offers poetry and journaling workshops for the staff.
2012-14: Kathleen Flenniken
Kathleen Flenniken came to poetry late, after working as a civil engineer and hydrologist at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Her first book Famous (University of Nebraska Press, 2006), won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, and was a finalist for a Washington State Book Award. Her second collection, Plume, about the Hanford nuclear site, was selected by Linda Bierds for thePacific Northwest Poetry Series, and published by University of Washington Press in 2012. It won the Washington State Book Award and was a finalist for the Pacific Northwest Book Awards and the William Carlos Williams Award for the Poetry Society of America. Plume also won a Poetry and Literature Design Award from the Association of University Presses for book designer Ashley Saleeba. The collection is in its third printing. Kathleen teaches poetry and is a co-editor and president of Floating Bridge Press. She lives in Seattle, Washington.
2007-09: Samuel Green
Sam Green is a Washington native and resides on remote Waldron Island. A distinguished poet and author of several poetry collections, including The Grace of Necessity (winner of the 2008 Washington State Book Award for poetry), his work has appeared in numerous publications. For more than thirty years, he has served as editor of a small press focusing on the work of Washington poets. He has been a visiting poet and poetry teacher at Seattle University for several years and has been active with the Skagit River Poetry Festival.