We have winners!

May 4, 2021

Congratulations and thanks to ALL of the poets who submitted work to this year’s Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest, and in particular to the poets who have been selected as this year’s winners:

WALK AWARDS: Ty Colson, David P. Drummond, Marie Eaton, Peyton Eberhardt, Jory Mickelson, Maddie Patterson, Timothy Pilgrim, Janette Lyn Rosebrook, Noa Shelsta, J.L. Wright.

MERIT AWARDS: Rylie Anderson, Margaux Barber, Barbara Bloom, Kathleen Byrd, Lynn Geri, Arden Haines, Sophie Hall, Callum LaPlant, David M. Laws, Payton Ling, Phelps S. McIlvaine, Isabella Nelson, Robert Stern, Kami Westhoff, Genevieve Whalen.

The awards ceremony will be held online on Thursday, May 20, 2021, at 7:00pm Pacific. Access information will be provided as soon as it is available.

In addition… the names of the winning poets and poems will be added to the Winners page. The winning poems and their beautiful illustrated placards will be featured on this page, one per week, over the coming months, and linked to the Winners page. And finally, the Walk Award poems will take their places on the Poetry Walk in front of the Bellingham Public Library, where they will remain on view for a full year. (If you haven’t seen the 2020 Poetry Walk poems, be sure to take a look before they go away.)

Meanwhile, please enjoy this wonderful video celebrating the contest and its namesake, Sue C. Boynton.

call for poems

March 1, 2021

The 2021 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest is now open for submissions from Whatcom County, Washington, poets of all ages and experience. You can learn more about this year’s judges here and see the complete guidelines and submission details on the 2021 Contest page.

Also, a reminder for student poets: John S Green will offer a free Children’s Poetry Workshop, this Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 11:00am-12:15pm. Participation does not guarantee that your poem will be selected as a winner, but it’s sure to be fun. Advance registration is required.

this Thursday!

October 19, 2020

The long-awaited awards ceremony for the 2020 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest will happen on Zoom this Thursday, October 22, 2020, at 7:00pm.

If you would like to attend online, please request a Zoom link and password by emailing BoyntonPoetryContest@hotmail.com.

mark your calendar!

October 6, 2020

The winners of the 2020 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest were selected and notified back in April. When, by necessity, the awards ceremony was rescheduled from May to October, it seemed like surely an in-person celebration would be possible. Alas.

But there will be a celebration, online, on Thursday, October 22, 2020, at 7:00pm. We will hear from this year’s judges, Roger Gilman and Kami Westhoff, and from the poets who have waited so patiently to share their words.

Request a Zoom link and password for this year’s virtual Awards Ceremony by emailing BoyntonPoetryContest@hotmail.com.

Please mark your calendar and stay tuned!

Boynton winners!

May 13, 2020

We have winners!

This year’s distinguished judges for the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest, Roger Gilman and Kami Westhoff, have completed the difficult task of choosing winning poems from among the hundreds submitted.

Congratulations to the 2020 winning poets:
WALK AWARDS
Margaux Barber, Robert Beck, Chloe Nahani Braunstein,
Eugene S. Fairbanks, Suzanne Harris, Iluma Madrone, Kate Miller,
Betty Scott, Katen Van Harmelen, and Hayley Van Ness

MERIT AWARDS
Miakoda Baughman, Judy Bishop, Barbara Bloom, Randy Flowers,
Cristian H Gonzalez, John S. Green, Josh Hilderbrand, Steve Hood,
Stephen Jacob Huxford, Penelope Keep, Alexandra M. Lucas,
Fjola Martinez, Giorgiana Vignali, Richard Widerkehr,
and J. L. Wright

The Awards Ceremony, originally scheduled for May, has been postponed until Thursday, October 22, 2020, 7:00pm, at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. The community is invited (encouraged) to attend this wonderful event, at which the poets will read their winning poems. Please mark your calendar!

six days and counting

March 26, 2020

If it feels like everything around you has been cancelled, think again: the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest is still happening and still wants your poems!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020, is the last day to submit, and because the drop-off venues are closed, submissions must come by mail or, preferably, email.

The awards ceremony, originally scheduled for May 14, will be rescheduled for a fall date to be announced. But the judges will read submissions, make their selections, and notify the winners by the end of April.

This is an all-ages, Whatcom County, Washington, contest, and a great thing to do if you happen to be staying at home quite a lot. Six days and counting. One poem per person. Read the guidelines and submit!

East Whatcom County community radio station KAVZ-LP, broadcasting 24 hours a day from beautiful downtown Van Zandt, is seeking writers and poets to submit poetry, prose, non-fiction, and plays to be broadcast and stream on the World Wide Web on the program South Fork Speaks. Recordings of 25 to 30 minutes may include the work of one or more writers, but “Be aware of your copyrights or they may be lost to you forever.” All the details are on the South Fork Speaks page.

. . . . .
Thanks to Whatcom Writers & Publishers for the heads-up

Kids Need Books

February 18, 2020

This is a guest post by Joe Nolting.

After teaching middle school in Alaska for 30 years, I moved to Bellingham, Washington, with my wife, Annie (a writer), in 2012. I soon fell in love with my new home town and wanted to do something to promote literacy, so I founded Kids Need Books in 2016.

Kids Need Books (KNB) hands out new and gently used books to disadvantaged Whatcom County families. I started KNB as a way to curb the summer slide — the academic decline commonly experienced by low-income students during their time away from school and books. My volunteers and I soon discovered that local families were hungry for quality reading material and the program evolved into a year-round effort for people of all ages.

Distributions take place at the weekly satellite food banks at Alderwood Elementary School and Christ the King Church, and at other sites, including the Deming Foothills Food Bank, the Agape Project in Lynden (for migrant worker families), community block parties, school literacy festivals, and an afterschool Latino book club.

KNB is run entirely by unpaid staff. I act as the program’s coordinator — acquiring, organizing, storing (mostly in my garage), and handing out books. A core group of a dozen volunteers assists me with the regular book distributions.

Most of our books are donated by Village Books, the Assistance League of Bellingham, Friends of the Bellingham Public Library, local schools, book clubs, and member congregations of the Interfaith Coalition. Some books are rarely donated, including board books for infants and bilingual books (especially books in Spanish/English and Russian/English). KNB uses Project Neighborly (Whatcom Community Foundation) grant funds and cash donations from individuals to purchase these less-often-donated reading materials.

KNB believes that literacy can build a bridge from poverty to prosperity. One of the primary goals of the program is to grow the home libraries of low-income families. Research indicates that children who grow up in a home with a library of over a hundred books are likely to successfully complete high school and pursue a college education.

As the program grows, the need for quality books, financial donations, and volunteers grows. New and gently used books (including poetry books), may be dropped off at the Interfaith Coalition office (910 14th Street, Bellingham).

Tax deductible donations may be made through the DONATE button on the KNB website. If you are interested in helping out at a book distribution, please email Joe Nolting (jtnolting AT gmail.com).

Recently, KNB handed out its 100,000th book and a volunteer coordinator from the Alderwood neighborhood remarked, “Kids Need Books has fundamentally changed the reading culture of our neighborhood. We are grateful.”

– – – – –


Joe Nolting was born in Ohio and grew up in Vermont, where he met his wife, Annie. They drove to Alaska in a VW bus and were still there 35 years later. He taught middle school in Alaska for 30 years, mostly in the Matanuska Valley, and moved to Bellingham in 2012. Annie and Joe have one son, Ben, who is a Ph.D. mathematician working as a consultant. When he is not collecting, sorting, or handing out books, Joe likes to mountain bike, read (of course), and write poetry and essays.

Joe Nolting’s poems have twice been selected as winners in the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest.

meet the judges: 2020

January 4, 2020

Each year, the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest selects two distinguished poets to serve as judges. With hundreds of poems to read by poets of all ages and skill levels, it’s a challenging job. The judges each read every poem and then discuss their choices before coming up with the year’s contest winners.

The contest committee is very pleased to introduce this year’s judges: Roger Gilman and Kami Westhoff.

Roger Gilman is poetry editor for Adventures Northwest, winner of a National Endowment of the Humanities Fellowship, and of several Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest prizes. He teaches classes at the Hugo House Literary Center in Seattle. His latest poems are in Poetry Northwest. He is former Dean of Fairhaven College and Professor of the Arts and Humanities at Western Washington University.

Kami Westhoff is the author of Sleepwalker, which won Minerva Rising’s Dare to Be Contest, and Your Body a Bullet, co-written with Elizabeth Vignali. Her poetry and prose have appeared in journals including Booth, Carve, Hippocampus, Meridian, Passages North, The Pinch, Phoebe, Redivider, Waxwing, and West Branch. She teaches creative writing at Western Washington University where she serves as faculty adviser for Jeopardy Magazine.

The guidelines are now posted on the 2020 Contest page. Submissions don’t open until March 1, 2020, but it’s never too early to study the guidelines and start drafting your poem.

poets, historically

December 16, 2019

Four of the 11 articles in the 2019 Journal of the Whatcom County Historical Society discuss poets with local ties.

Marielle Stockton, an English literature student at Western Washington University, wrote “To Lie There Forever, on the Silver Crest of the World.” The article details Washington Poet Laureate Ella Higginson’s memorial poems written in response to three deadly local tragedies — a shipwreck, a mining accident, and an avalanche.

Dean Kahn, a retired Bellingham Herald staff member, contributed profiles on the following three poets:

  • Charles Edward Butler, a librarian at Western who wrote a memorial poem about the same 1939 avalanche, which killed six people associated with the college.
  • Naomi Reimer, who published a collection of poems about her extended family’s Mennonite odyssey.
  • Elizabeth Watts Henley, the daughter of a prominent Bellingham family who became well known in Oregon poetry circles despite a lifetime of personal challenges.

Copies of the annual publication are available for $10 at Village Books and online at WCHS.

. . . . .
Thanks to Dean Kahn for the update!

%d bloggers like this: