The judges for the 2017 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest are Jacob Hartsoch and Laura Laffrado. As always, after submissions are closed (March 31) the judges will both read every single poem that is submitted (without knowing the name of the poet) and will then work together to select the Walk and Merit winners.

Jacob HartsochJacob Hartsoch grew up in a small Montana town and was inspired by Richard Hugo’s poetry about local places he knew and loved. His work has been selected three times in the annual Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest and he is the recipient of the Gonzaga University Costello Award in poetry. He lives in Bellingham with his wife and two young boys and is currently excited about wind, water, and reducing his family’s carbon footprint. Photo by Sheila Carson.

Laura LaffradoLaura Laffrado’s current work is focused on returning forgotten Pacific Northwest writer Ella Rhoads Higginson to literary prominence. Her most recent book is Selected Writings of Ella Higginson: Inventing Pacific Northwest Literature (2015). Laffrado is also author of Uncommon Women: Gender and Representation in Nineteenth-Century US Women’s Writing (2009, 2015) and other books and essays. She is Professor of English at Western Washington University.

This year’s guidelines are posted on the 2017 Contest page.

Got kids’ books?

February 3, 2017

kids' books

In case you missed it, there was a lovely article in the Bellingham Herald about Joe Nolting, a two-time Sue Boynton Poetry Contest winner, retired teacher and inspired distributor of books to kids who might not otherwise have them.

Kids Need Books! is a project of the Interfaith Coalition of Whatcom County. On the Interfaith Coalition Facebook page, they ask for your help: Donate a gently used/good quality children’s book, or purchase a new one, for Kids Need Books (KNB) program, and invest in the life of a child! KNB distributes at two local elementary schools to low income children throughout the year. Drop off book at the Interfaith Coalition, 910 14th Street, Bellingham, Washington.

According to the Herald article, Nolting hopes to distribute ten thousand books this year. Good work, Joe!

Guidelines posted!

January 26, 2017


Whatcom County (Washington) poets, the guidelines for the 2017 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest are now posted on the 2017 Contest page.

Bellingham Cruise TerminalThe winners of the 11th annual Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest have been selected by judges Luther Allen and Luci Shaw and will be recognized at a free, festive, public awards ceremony on Thursday, May 12, 2016, at 7:00, at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Avenue, Bellingham. Seven of the 25 winning poets are students.

The 2016 Walk Award winners are: Greg Beatty, Susan Chase-Foster, Marlene Chasson, Thiago Filogonio Costa, Winter Gariss, Sydney Glover, Tallie Jones, Timothy Pilgrim, Rodolph Rowe, and Sylvia Tag.

The 2016 Merit Award winners are: Judy Bishop, Jessica Bloom, Carla Conforto, Corinne Foster, Samantha Gablehouse, Roger William Gilman, Jacob Hartsoch, Rick Hermann, Jessica Lee, Joe Nolting, Lucas Nydam, Dayna Patterson, Logan Sitkin, Scott Sutherland, and Leslie Wharton.

The awards ceremony (and parking) are free. Poet and bard Kevin Murphy will emcee, and the judges will present award certificates. A chapbook of poems from this year’s contest will be available for purchase and all poems entered in this year’s contest will be on display.

Copies of the winning poems, on placards designed by Christian Smith, Mat Hudson, Megan Carroll, and Kim Wulfestieg will be displayed for a year inside Whatcom Transportation Authority buses circulating throughout the county. The Walk Award winning poems will be displayed for a year on engraved plaques on the Poetry Walk in front of the Bellingham Public Library.

Please come celebrate the winning words of Whatcom County at this always-fun event.

WDRC Peaceful Poetry

What are your plans for the summer? If you’re in grades K-12 and you’re a Whatcom County resident, consider writing and submitting a poem for the 2016 Peaceful Poetry Youth Contest, hosted by the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center (WDRC). Poems on peaceful themes can be submitted between now and September 30, 2016, either online or by mail.

And there’s more!

WDRC invites K-12 students and their families to drop in to reflect, imagine and create at a FREE Peaceful Poetry Writer’s Workshop:

These free workshops allow students to explore poetry styles and engage their creativity through interactive exercises. The’ll leave having created a poem for the Peaceful Poetry Youth Contest.


March 30, 2016

countdownOkay, Whatcom County poets, you have today (March 30), and you have tomorrow (March 31) until 6:00pm to submit your poems to the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. It’s too late to mail your poem, but you can deliver it to Mindport Exhibits, 210 W. Holly Street, Bellingham (open both days Noon to 6pm) OR email it to Of course, read the guidelines carefully — line count and character count matter here, and poems that don’t meet the guidelines will be disqualified. This year’s judges are Luther Allen and Luci Shaw and we have it on good authority that they want to read YOUR poem!

P.S. Whether you submit a poem or not, be sure to mark your calendar for Thursday, May 12, 2016, and join the judges, the award winners, the contest committee and poetry fans from all over at the 2016 Boynton Awards Ceremony, 7:00pm at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal.

more Noisy Water!

March 22, 2016

Noisy Water 2016

Other Mind Press has announced an expanded calendar of readings for Noisy Water: Poetry from Whatcom County, Washington. Selected poets from the 101-poet anthology will be reading at each of these upcoming events:

The Firehouse event, organized by Jeni Cottrell, Harold Niven and FAIM, includes an exhibit by 16 Noisy Water poets who created artwork inspired by or related to their poem. The art will be on display at the Firehouse Café throughout National Poetry Month, April 1-30, during café hours, 7:00am – 4:00pm daily, and the poets will read at the reception/reading on April 24.

All readings are free and copies of Noisy Water will be available for purchase. There’s more information about Noisy Water and a complete lineup of poets for each event on the Other Mind Press Noisy Water page.

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