Valentina Gnup's poem for Oso, Washington, "Every Fallen Thing," captures the powerlessness of witnessing a natural disaster. 
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Valentina Gnup's poem for Oso, Washington, "Every Fallen Thing," captures the powerlessness of witnessing a natural disaster.
Credit: Courtesy of John Blackard

Poems Deliver Sunflowers For Fukushima, Foxglove For Oso

Marcie Sillman speaks with Washington Poet Laureate Elizabeth Austen, who shares two poems about disasters, manmade and natural.

First, former Redmond Poet Laureate Jeannine Hall Gailey reads her poem,"Fukushima in Fall: A Field of Sunflowers," from her newest collection, "The Robot Scientists's Daughter." Hall Gailey grew up just a few miles from the Oak Ridge National Laboratories at a time when the groundwater and air were polluted with cesium, the same element contaminating the area around Fukushima.

Next, Austen reads Valentina Gnup's poem, "Every Fallen Thing," which was written in response to the devastating mudslide in Oso, Washington last March. Gnup was living in Portland, Oregon at the time of the mudslide.