last-minute poetry…

March 31, 2011

deadlineWe know you’re out there, you last-minute poets. At first you put it off because the submission deadline seemed so far away. Then you forgot about it for a week or so. Then you got busy with other stuff. Maybe you even wrote a line or two. Or maybe you’ve been laboring over your words every day for months. More likely you were just waiting for the urgent pressure of the deadline to squeeze a poem out of your creative brain.

Whatever your excuse, it’s time.

Your poem must be RECEIVED by 5:00pm tomorrow, Friday, April 1 (no joke!). That means it’s either delivered with tomorrow’s mail at the PO Box or you walk it in to Mindport Exhibits during their regular hours, Noon-6pm Thursday or Noon-5pm Friday (they’re open til 6, but submissions close at 5!).

Please count lines and characters. After you’ve waited all this time, we’d hate to have to reject your poem because it doesn’t qualify…or because it’s late!
Photo: Paul Bassett Davies

Abigail Carr reading at Village Books2010 Walk Award winner Abigail Carr, pictured here reading her winning poem at Village Books, can be seen and heard reading her poem on YouTube, thanks to BTV10. You can also read Abigail’s winning poem here.
Photo by Nancy Lou Canyon.

hear some poetry…

March 29, 2011

Coffee and poets poster 2011
Past contest winners Jim Milstead, Carla Shafer and Scott Stodola will join local, regional and national poets at a free poetry reading, 10:30am, Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 910 14th Street, Bellingham (at the back door of St. James Presbyterian Church).

The same three past Boynton winners, as well as prolific poet and veteran contest awards ceremony emcee, James Bertolino, will also have their poems featured in the Bellingham Repertory Dance Company 2011 Phrasings Collaboration in Word and Dance. Performance dates are April 1, 2 & 3, 2011.

You can read poems by Jim Milstead here, Carla Shafer here and here, Scott Stodola here and here.

The Sue Boynton Poetry Contest will be accepting submissions until 5:00pm, this Friday, April 1, 2011. Before you send your poem, please review this handy submission checklist:

  • I am a resident of Whatcom County, Washington.
  • If I am under 18 years of age, my parents know that I am submitting a poem to the contest and they have reviewed the printed guidelines.
  • I am submitting three copies of my poem (not stapled).
  • One copy has my name and other identifying information (specified in the Sue Boynton Contest ~ 2011 Guidelines) in the upper right-hand corner.
  • The other copies have NO identifying information – just the poem and title.
  • I have counted the lines, including the title and the blank line below the title (there must be a blank line below the title), and the total is 27 or fewer.
  • I have carefully counted the characters in every line, including all blank spaces and all punctuation, and the total is 55 or fewer per line.
  • I understand that poems cannot be considered if they exceed the line-count or character-count specifications.
  • I have kept a copy of my poem.
  • I understand that if my poem happens to be selected, I’ll be notified by phone by April 20, 2011.
  • I have added BoyntonPoetryContest AT hotmail DOT com to my e-mail contacts so I receive important updates about the contest and my submission.
  • I have marked my calendar for Wednesday, May 11, 7pm, to attend the free contest awards ceremony at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal.
  • I understand that poems will not be accepted in person or by mail after 5:00pm, Friday, April 1, 2011. I will mail my poem by mid-week or drop off my poem at Mindport Exhibits during regular hours, Wednesday through Friday, noon to 6pm (5pm cutoff on Friday!).
  • I know that if I have questions about the contest, I can probably find the answers on the 2011 contest page or the FAQs page or I can send an e-mail to BoyntonPoetryContest AT hotmail DOT com.

This checklist, as well as contest guidelines and a sample submission form, can be downloaded as printable PDFs on the 2011 Contest page.

Thanks for participating. We look forward to reading your poem!

a taste of poetry…

March 27, 2011

Taste for Poetry ~ Kevin Murphy reads

Between courses of scrumptious Indian-themed food prepared by the culinary team at Ciao Thyme, Kevin Murphy read (and even drummed) his amusing, engaging and thoughtful poetry.

But lest we get too lofty an idea about poets and poetry, we also had a participatory event. The person at the end of each side of the two long tables was handed a pad of paper with a prompt. They were to write a line of poetry in response to the prompt, then pass the paper along to the person sitting next to them. Each person would add a line – but fold the paper down over the previous lines so that only the single most recently added line was visible.

The prompt for all four groups was I have been eating poetry, a line borrowed, with gratitude, from Eating Poetry by Mark Strand.

Here are the four poems that resulted:

I have been eating poetry
It turns out I may be allergic
I think it’s the Haiku Histamines
that have made me want nothing but
to brush my teeth over and over
‘til I can smile without worry of green particles
The green particles allow the grey matter to rhyme
Are you a licker or a biter?
Would life be so simple.


I have been eating poetry
My mouth waters when I taste Rumi
The crispy crunch of pappadum enlivens my tongue
inspiring it to spicy glossolalia
nurture it, shape it, and turn it over
Flip it high with your spatula, catch it on your tongue
Be careful, it may crawl away
Swing wide your arms and nod in that knowing way
Close your eyes and bite your tongue!


I have been eating poetry
all night long the moon and marigold stars
with fork & spoon, smile, joy
Words so sweet – I gave up chocolate,
But not the dark, never the dark
Once I chewed around slowly
fragrant aromas of past participles
turn into the gift you never dreamed of!
I wipe my mouth, rub my belly and turn again to the poetry of dreams.


I have been eating poetry
For days now, I have been eating poetry
Greasy words, slimy syllables, unkind consonants
while I should have paid my bills and bought healthy food
Instead I am clipping coupons and planning recipes for Top Ramen.
Perhaps instead of eating poetry, I should have smoked some fiction,
Instead of eating or smoking my mouth still desires chocolate
Peaceful and serene, there is always room for ice cream
and then from the deep well, we drink ink.

Photo by Nancy Lou Canyon


Poets! All submissions must be RECEIVED by 5:00pm, Friday, April 1, 2011 (no foolin’!).

If you plan to mail your poem, please allow plenty of time for it to get through the U.S. mail.
You may deliver your poem in person at Mindport Exhibits, 210 W. Holly, up to the deadline. Mindport will be open Sunday, March 27, 12-4pm and Wednesday-Friday, March 30-April 1, 12-6pm (but poems must be received by 5pm Friday).
Poems received after the deadline will be disqualified.

How to count characters in a line of poetry

word count window in MS WordUsing Microsoft Word 2003: Highlight the longest line in your poem. With the line highlighted, click on Tools. Then click on Word Count. In the window that opens, you’ll see several counts. The one that matters is Characters (with spaces). More than 55? You need to rewrite. Check all lines; edit as needed.

Review tab in MS Word 2007In MS Word 2007, with a line of your poem highlighted, click on Review, then Word Count.

In MS Word 2010, with a line of your poem highlighted, in the Proofing group click on Review, then Word Count. Again, be sure to click Characters (with spaces).

(You can also use Word Count to count lines: highlight the entire poem, including the title; click on Word Count and look for Lines in the window that opens. If it’s more than 27, you need to rework your poem.)

The Macintosh Text Editor does not have a built-in word/character counter, but you can use the free online character counter at Letter Count: Copy a single complete line from your poem, paste it into the text box, then click on Count Characters. More than 55? Rewrite! Check all lines and revise as necessary.

tip red pencilWith a pencil: Count the longest line in your poem first. Start with the first letter of the line and touch the pencil to every single letter, punctuation mark and blank space. Put a slash after the 10th, 20th, 30th, 40th and 50th character (that’s in case you lose count). If you go over 55, you need to rewrite. Count other lines that are similar length and revise until all lines are 55 or fewer characters (there’s no minimum).

We regret that the Contest is unable to consider poems that exceed the line or character count. Keep your poem out of the shredder – count those lines and characters!
image credits:
word count window
Review tab
pencil tip

Poems on display…

March 24, 2011

WECU logo

The beautiful Egress Studio-designed placards of the 2010 winning poems are now on display at WECU, 600 E. Holly, in Bellingham, and will remain on view through April, which is Poetry Month.
Special thanks to WECU for continued support of the Sue Boynton Poetry Contest!


March 23, 2011

Thank You!
Our warmest thanks to poet Kevin Murphy, to Jessica and Mataio Gillis and the entire Ciao Thyme staff, to our wonderful, poetry-loving guests and to the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest committee for making this year’s Taste for Poetry so delicious!

Okay, poets, now it’s your turn!

Taste for Poetry

March 22, 2011

Tonight’s the night…The generous, visionary and fun-loving guests of Taste for Poetry 2011 will be dazzled by the culinary magic of Ciao Thyme and the dexterous wordplay of our featured poet, Kevin Murphy.

You Tube logoHere’s Kevin reading his 2010 Walk Award winning poem, Falling Apart, or New Delhi Haiku Blues, which can also be read here.