State poet laureate wins Washington book award

SEATTLE — Six books have been selected for this year’s Washington State Book Awards. The 2013 winners include a novel set in early 20th-century Wenatchee; poetry by Washington state’s poet laureate, inspired by growing up near Hanford; a biography of Seattle photographer Edward Curtis; and an exploration of the relationship between the science of geology and the story of Noah’s flood.

Here’s a list of the books, announced Tuesday by the Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library. “Washington author” is defined as a current resident of the state who has lived here for at least three years, or someone who was born here:

“The Orchardist” by Amanda Coplin (Harper). Set in Washington’s apple-growing country in the era before electricity and irrigation, “The Orchardist” is the story of a solitary man who takes in two runaway girls, irrevocably altering the path of his life. Coplin, who grew up near Wenatchee, now lives in Portland.

“Plume”by Kathleen Flenniken (University of Washington Press). Poetry by Washington state’s poet laureate, who grew up near the Hanford nuclear reservation and later worked there as an engineer. “Plume” uses poetry to plumb the Hanford experience — the science, the secrecy and the long-lasting effects of radiation, including illness and death.

“Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis” by Timothy Egan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Egan, an acclaimed nonfiction writer based in Seattle, won for his biography of Curtis, the Seattle photographer who made it his life’s mission to photograph North American Indian tribes before their way of life vanished forever.

“The Rocks Don’t Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood” by David Montgomery (W.W. Norton). Montgomery, a University of Washington professor and MacArthur “genius” grant award winner, wrote this thoughtful, readable book on the conflict between the science of geology, which pegs the age of Earth at about 4.54 billion years, and “young earth” creationists, who believe the world was made by God less than 10,000 years ago.

Two books won the Scanduzzi Children’s Book Award:

“Those Rebels, John &Tom” by Barbara Kerley of Portland, Ore., illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham of Seattle (Scholastic). For ages 7-10: a picture book and a double portrait of Founding Fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, one that shows their differences as well as the passion for liberty that united them.

“The Wicked and the Just” by J. Anderson Coats (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers). For 13- to 18-year-old readers: Set in the 13th century during an era of conflict between the English and the Welsh, this book tells the story of two girls, one Welsh, one English, who face tough choices during a tough time.

Winners will receive a $500 honorarium. A party to celebrate the winners is planned at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Richard Hugo House in Seattle — free and open to the public. For a complete list of winners and finalists go to the Seattle Public Library’s website (spl.org).

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