Sunday salmon

June 5, 2023

Please mark your calendar and join Rena Priest, Empty Bowl Press, and contributing poets in a celebration of the newly published collection, I Sing the Salmon Home: Poems from Washington State. The event will be held on Sunday, June 18, 2023, at the Squalicum Boathouse in Zuanich Point Park, in Bellingham. Doors open at 5:30pm and the reading starts at 6:00pm. Copies of the anthology will be available for sale and signing.

mark your calendar

June 2, 2023

The Poetry Marathon is an annual event in which participants write a poem an hour for 24 hours. There are also half-marathon (12-hour) options during the same 24-hour period.

Founded and run by Caitlin Jans (Thomson) and Jacob Jans with help from volunteers and a different editor for the anthology every year, The Poetry Marathon often allows participating poets to break through their usual boundaries as they push past tiredness. The resulting poems can form the basis for a chapbook or simply provide a large batch of drafts for further editing.

The 2023 Poetry Marathon will start on September 2 at 9:00am Eastern and go to 9:00am September 3. Half-marathoners can choose either 9:00am-9:00pm or 9:00pm to 9:00am.

Mark your calendar!

The 2022 Poetry Marathon Anthology, edited by Ofuma Agali and Cristy Watson, with cover art by Vidya Shankar, is available at bookstores and online.


May 26, 2023

In case you missed it, the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest awards ceremony this week was a rollicking success. In a contest year notable for its first in-person awards ceremony since 2019 and its unusually small organizing committee, the standing-room-only event went without a hitch and much audience appreciation.

Special thanks to this year’s judges, Caitlin Scarano and Leslie Wharton; to emcee Kevin Murphy; to the contest committee: Sarah King, Rachel Mehl, Joan Packer, Matthew Stuckey, and Flannery White; to the artists who illustrated the placards for the winning poems: Angela Boyle, Megan Carroll, Christian Anne Smith, and Kimberly Wulfestieg; to everyone who helped move chairs, including Dean Kahn and Matthew Scott; to Susan J. Erickson for the gorgeous flowers; and last, but definitely not least, THE POETS!!

This Sunday, May 28, the last of the 2022 winning poems will be featured here on The Poetry Department. On Sunday, June 11, and each of the next 19 Sundays, we will feature one of the 2023 winning poems, which will then be linked to the Winners page. Your Likes and Comments are greatly appreciated.

If you live in Whatcom County, Washington, and you believe poetry is important, the contest committee welcomes new members. It’s not a demanding job (unless it falls on the shoulders of only one or two people) but it’s definitely rewarding. Interested? Drop a note to BoyntonPoetryContest [at]

At the awards ceremony, each of the judges has a chance to make a few comments. Leslie Wharton noted that so many lines of poetry continued to run through her mind that she decided to make a poem of them. Her cento poem, below, uses a line from each of the 2023 winning poems. Watch for them in the coming months.

Sue C. Roll

Because when stars collect, they look like you
what my younger sister once found most beautiful
as she sleeps, her lips begin to bloom
You might say there’s nothing other-worldly
except for a sapphire hole releasing heaven
Then she looks up, thinks, falling star?
You are acres of berry bushes full of fruit
who feels with kindness for all people
There are so many kinds
runaway combat boots, party shoes tripping
We will hug each other ‘til we are numb
hoping not to die
Silvers — Coho Salmon — swim above concrete
creeks had swollen like the pulse in her veins
In the unknown, all is known
random events explode into existence
reminding me that things will fall down from time to time
but I am not ready to leave
moving fast and joyfully
I feel peace

. . . . .
photo by Flannery White
“Sue C. Roll” cento assembled by Leslie Wharton

If you submitted a poem to the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest, this year or any previous year, and it was rejected, now you have a chance to show it off to the world!

Boynton Bouncers returns to the mic at Greene’s Corner in Bellingham on Thursday, May 25, 2023, at 6:00pm. Here are the guidelines:

  • Rejected-by-Boynton poems from any contest year, 2006-2023, are eligible.
  • Poets must read their own poems; if their work has been turned away in multiple years, they may read up to two poems.
  • Poets can just show up and read, or, to assure a spot in the lineup, send an email with your name, phone, and poem title(s) to
  • The event is free and the public is invited.

Celebrate rejection with some of Whatcom County’s finest poets!

Awards Ceremony!

May 17, 2023

Next Wednesday, May 24, 2023, at 7:00pm, the Bellingham Cruise Terminal (355 Harris Avenue in Fairhaven) will again come to life with the sound of poetry. The Awards Ceremony for the 2023 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest is free and open to the public. The evening will be hosted by everyone’s favorite emcee, Kevin Murphy, with comments from the judges, Caitlin Scarano and Leslie Wharton, and the year’s award-winning poems read by their poets. Please come celebrate community poetry at this heartwarming event.


May 9, 2023

The 2023 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced yesterday.

The Pulitzer Prizes were established by Joseph Pulitzer, a Hungarian-American journalist and newspaper publisher, who left money to Columbia University upon his death in 1911. A portion of his bequest was used to found the School of Journalism in 1912 and establish the Pulitzer Prizes, which were first awarded in 1917.

The 18-member Pulitzer Board is composed of leading journalists or news executives from media outlets across the U.S., as well as five academics or persons in the arts.

While the bulk of the prizes are for various aspects of Journalism, there are also prizes for books, drama, and music. We congratulate Carl Phillips, whose book Then the War: And Selected Poems, 2007-2020 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. The finalists: Blood Snow by dg nanouk okpik (Wave Books), and Still Life by the late Jay Hopler (McSweeney’s).

See the complete list of 2023 Pulitzer winners and finalists here.

Postcard Fest

May 5, 2023

Will 2023 be the year you participate in the Poetry Postcard Fest? Or perhaps you’re a returning postcarder, already stocking up on postcards and stamps.

Formerly known as the August Poetry Postcard Fest, the annual international postcard exchange is now open from July 4 through August 31. During that time, participants write 31 spontaneous poems on postcards and mail them to the people on their list.

To get on a list, REGISTER. The $15 early-bird registration will go up to $21 on June 5, so don’t delay.

You could write a chapbook’s worth of poems in a month.

Read all about it or see previous fest posts on The Poetry Department.

no passport required

May 3, 2023

Tune in today, Wednesday, May 3, 2023, at 4:30pm Pacific, to hear winning poetry from The League of Canadian Poets finalists for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and the Raymond Souster Award. See the shortlists here and reserve a spot for this free online reading here.

summer classes

May 2, 2023

The Summer 2023 Hugo House catalog is now available for browsing, online or as a downloadable PDF. There are offerings in many different genres, including poetry, and of various lengths, from one session to twelve weeks, both in-person and online. Have a browse.

Sunday in Bellingham

April 20, 2023

This Sunday, April 23, 2023, at 4:00pm, Village Books will welcome Dayna Patterson and Bruce Beasley for a reading from their most recent books, O Lady, Speak Again and Prayershreds, respectively. See you there.

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