Carol V. Davis reading at WWU
The Western Library Reading Series presents a free reading by Carol V. Davis from her new book, Between Storms. The event will take place at the Library Skybridge, Wilson Library, Western Washington University, Bellingham, at 4:00pm on Tuesday, April 3, 2012.

In addition to Between Storms (Truman State University Press, 2012), Carol V. Davis won the 2007 T.S. Eliot Prize for Into the Arms of Pushkin: Poems of St. Petersburg. Her other books are It’s Time to Talk About… (bilingual Russian/English, 1997) and two chapbooks, Letters From Prague and The Violin Teacher. Twice a Fulbright scholar in Russia, she was the 2008 poet-in-residence at Olivet College, Michigan, and teaches at Santa Monica College, California. Her poetry has been read on NPR and Radio Russia and has appeared in such journals as Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Natural Bridge, Crab Orchard Review, Mid-American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review and in anthologies including New Poets of the American West (2010), Mamas and Papas (2010), Lavandaria: Women, Wash and Words (2009), etc. She read at the Library of Congress in November 2010 and in August 2011 was (the first) poet-in-residence at Homestead National Monument of America in Nebraska.

March 31, 2012The deadline looms. You wait till the pressure becomes intolerable.

It’s time, poets. Get it together. Check the guidelines and submit your poem. Of course we’re talking about the Sue Boynton Poetry Contest (poems must be received by 5:00pm tomorrow, Saturday, March 31, 2012), but there’s more!

Saturday, March 31, 2012, is also the deadline for…

Crab Creek Review, the Seattle-based print journal.

The Postcard Press, a micropress publishing one very short story or poem each month in the form of a 4″ x 6″ postcard. Theme for this issue: lies I almost believe.

Switchback flash contest (500 words or less) on the subject, “Three men walk into a bar.”

Spillway, a print journal published by Tebot Bach, on the theme, “Games people play.”

Want more literary publication deadlines? Have a look at the theme and deadline calendar on Duotrope.

another poetry walk…

March 29, 2012

Ganiard poem on Michigan art walkYou may have noticed that this site ‘collects’ poetry walks. Since the Sue Boynton Poetry Walk, in front of the Bellingham Public Library, is such a central feature of our contest, it’s interesting to see where and how else poetry is exhibited ‘in the wild.’

We’ve happened across another: Oaken Transformations Sculpture and Poetry Walk in Brighton, Michigan. The half-mile trail features sculptures on one-year consignment and poems, by Michigan poets, permanently installed. Visit the project website to learn more or find Oaken Transformations on Facebook.
John Ganiard poem

Don’t mail that poem!

March 28, 2012

do not mailWAIT! Don’t mail that poem!

If you haven’t mailed your poem yet, please don’t take a chance of missing the deadline — 5:00pm, Saturday, March 31, 2012. All poems must be received by that time.

Mail delivery is slower these days, but you still have time to hand deliver your poem to Mindport Exhibits, 210 W. Holly Street, in downtown Bellingham. Mindport is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from Noon to 5:00pm and Saturday from 10:00am to 5:00pm.

We look forward to reading your poem!

poetry in the news…

March 27, 2012

rain readersNational Poetry Month begins on Sunday, April 1, and poetry with a local twist is already finding its way into the media. In yesterday’s Bellingham Herald, Barbara Lloyd McMichael offered recommendations for two new books in her article, Books that help you celebrate National Poetry Month. One is Plume by Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken; the other is Forms of Feeling: Poetry in Our Lives – Essays and Interviews by John Morgan. (Not mentioned in the article: John Morgan is the father of one of this year’s Sue Boynton Poetry Contest judges, poet Jeffrey Morgan!)

Last week, writer Craig Morgan Teicher discussed the efforts by Port Townsend-based poetry publisher, Copper Canyon Press, to adapt poetry for hand-held devices. In his Publishers Weekly article, Fitting Poetry to the Screen, Teicher describes the challenges of fitting long lines onto narrow screens with suitable line breaks while still honoring the poet’s intent. The story was also covered in Harriet, the blog of the Poetry Foundation.

Richard Hugo HouseOnce you’ve turned in your poem for the Sue Boynton Poetry Contest, what will you do with all that free time?

Why not whip down to Seattle and take in Recto Verso: an Independent Press Expo at Richard Hugo House? Just one of the events scheduled as part of Authors, Publishers and Readers of Independent Literature (APRIL), here’s a little more on Recto Verso: “Dozens of the finest small presses from the Northwest and beyond converge on the epicenter of Seattle’s literary world for a one-of-a-kind book fair. Book-buyers’ best chance to see a bevy of small press books rarely seen on bookstore shelves. The first twenty people get a free APRIL tote bag. Readings throughout the day in the Hugo House Theater. The Hugo House bar will be open.”

Sounds pretty tasty!

on poetry…

March 25, 2012

“The world consigns its myths, its religions, its dreams and deepest feelings to poetry for safekeeping: and, somehow, even its critics and doubters know where to find it in their time of need.” Pat Boran

Cherry Blossom Postage Stamp

Congratulations to Michael Dylan Welch and Emiko Miyashita, whose translation of a waka (tanka) appears on the back of a U.S. postage stamp, in an edition of 15,000,000 copies, that will be released today, March 24, 2012.

The translation, which appears below, is from their 2008 artbook, 100 Poets: Passions of the Imperial Court (Tokyo: PIE Books). This “forever” stamp celebrates the 100th anniversary of the cherry trees in Washington, D.C.

hisakata no hikari nodokeki harunohi ni shizugokoro naku hana no chiruran

Ki no Tomonori (c.850–c.904)

the light filling the air
is so mild this spring day
only the cherry blossoms
keep falling in haste—
why is that so?

poetry prompts…16

March 23, 2012

inspirationWhat are you going to write about next? If you’re searching for inspiration, here are a few places to look.

Rinn Ziegler, who blogs at Quill Shiv, offers a Wednesday prompt — an image, a suggestion — in a new section called The Haiku Bombers. (And if haiku is not your impulse, use the prompt to create another form.)

Writer and musician Roger Robinson offers a One Minute Lecture: On Generating Ideas for Poems, followed by a list of prompts.

If you search for a poem online, you may be directed to, a membership site where people post and discuss their favorite poems. It’s unlikely the site intended their Poem Topics page as a list of poetry prompts…but why not make use of the words that way?

If the visual inspires you, there’s a lot to see online. Christopher Jobson runs a site called Colossal, where he shares some of his favorite images, typically focusing on one artist per post. He has a good eye. The link takes you to the visual archive; click on an image for more…or subscribe for a daily dose. At the online pinboard,, everyone gets to be a Christopher Jobson. You can ‘request an invite’ and join the ruckus, or just visit the front page for a look at what’s inspiring others…and what might inspire you.

Click to see other posts tagged poetry prompts.

Now go write a poem!

Since this has been one of our most-frequently-visited posts since it appeared on March 25, 2011, and since the Sue Boynton Poetry Contest is notoriously fussy about correct character and line count, we’re re-posting it here, with a couple of minor updates, for your reference and convenience.

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.) Please note: You are not required to title your poem, although most submissions do have titles (even if the title is Untitled); however, if your poem does have a title, then it must have a blank line below the title and the title and the blank line must be included in your line count.

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