And from another planet*

March 28, 2022


2021 Merit Award
by Robert Stern

the aliens took along one
of their youngsters
landing on earth in a remote
mountain area
stars sprayed across the sky
suddenly a train
came winding around a steep curve
whistle blowing again and again
the kid was astonished
look look can we make one
no! this is ancient stuff
but i want to drive one
Zona, what have we gotten
ourselves into here
Ogan, these people are primitives
and know nothing about nothing
oh, the tracks are gleaming
are the green and red lights alive?
I’ve never wished for anything more

*Copyright © 2021 by Robert Stern. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Poet’s bio:
“I have been writing poetry for over 50 years. In 1978 I had a book called Spirit Hand published by Konglomerati Press and illustrated by Kit Hirshberg. I write poetry every week under the inspiration that it is a ‘touch of the marvelous.'”

Winter Day*

February 16, 2022


2021 Merit Award
by Callum LaPlant, 6th grade

In the winter, all full of white snow
Sets a beautiful Pine Siskin sitting on the snow.
My dog starts barking, I started yelling at my dog,
She keeps barking,
Her tail wagging back and forth.
I grabbed her laser then I pointed it at the ground.
She’s out in a flash
Probably faster than you would know,
Running everywhere the laser goes.
Back and forth.
When she gets distracted.
I grab the camera, by the time I do the Pine Siskin
Was away, in the beautiful white snowy sky.
I look up a little bit more then I see a whole nest
Of Pine Siskins sitting right there

*Copyright © 2021 by Callum LaPlant. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Mudslide*

February 12, 2022


2021 Merit Award
by Sophie Hall

climb the steep road to your cousin’s house and
find yourself moonwalking the runaway truck ramp
a few miles down, swallow rainwater backwash
when you forget which exit comes first

dry out by the field almost as full as the
FLEA MARKET TODAY sign — a calling so
concrete you can find all your uncles and grand-
fathers mixed with old keys and aged Coca Cola
bottles like syrup in hot sun, overpriced lemonade only
sipped in offerings from run-into relatives,
green paper spirals on smudged cups

stop at the mountain spring by the highway
where your mother’s father took her before
you, fill up your water bottle at the ground-level bar,
gulp gravel from the turnaround

spin down the mountain all muddy
because you met Frank Lloyd Wright in a timed essay
on the west coast and came back, so composed, so
water-bottle aluminum and no longer soda can,
after your first year of college to find Fallingwater
a castle on clay, a cool drink
on the way home

*Copyright © 2021 by Sophie Hall. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

At the Edge*

February 4, 2022


2021 Merit Award
by Lynn Geri

Dusk moves past the end of a foliage strewn road
That disappears into a woods of leafless trees.
Moon asleep on the bosom of a cloudy sky
Is unaware its light is needed to be ready
For the narrowing of this by and by.

Far into the forest a white bird radiates
Brilliant, but small spokes of flicking
Light, low in the swaying branches.
Dusk has climbed the trees all day dickering
With the rhythm of sun and season.

Moonless screeches, call from the recesses
Deep in the root-mind of the forest’s trees
Whose limbs hold fast this fiery bird
To a sound only an owl would find sweet
Dusk succumbs to the stabbing still of darkness.

*Copyright © 2021 by Lynn Geri. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Poet’s bio:
Lynn Geri did not start reading or writing poems until in her 70s… she is now 82 years old… and feeling at the edge of something. Her career was as a consultant/resource to large businesses and schools, helping people think about thinking.

Lynn has published three books of poetry and five pocket-size Scrollbooks, she calls them… easy to carry. so a poem is always with us. She has published several poems in literary magazines. One poem was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Forgive me if I forget*

January 27, 2022


2021 Walk Award
by Marie Eaton

Forgive me if I forget to return your phone call.
I have been chasing an elusive melody
across guitar strings,
subtle and swift as a hummingbird
darting through my butterfly bush.

Forgive me if I forget to come in from the garden.
I have been lured by ripening red tomatoes
in my greenhouse,
and blueberry bushes, heavy with fruit,
bending boughs to kiss the brown earth.

Forgive me if I forget to unload the dishwasher.
I have been reading poems,
slowly turning pages
reveling in rhyme and a perfect turn of phrase.

Forgive me if I forget to lock the front door.
I have been tempted
by brilliant washes of color across the western sky,
and the firefly wink of stars
as dusk creeps toward night.

I may forget,
but this forgetting is truest remembering.

*Copyright © 2021 by Marie Eaton. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Poet’s bio:
Marie Eaton’s writing has taken many forms — “stories to gather in memories of earlier years, songs to capture images or emotions, laments for our sweet planet, academic research papers, and proposals to inspire us to create a palliative community of excellence.” She taught writing in all these forms at Fairhaven College at Western Washington University for many years, and now as Professor Emerita she is the Community Champion for the Palliative Care Institute at Western Washington University. She loves helping others find the tools and strategies to find their own passions and the voice to express them. Most of Marie’s creative work has been as a songwriter, marrying melody and lyric. With the singing group Motherlode she has produced nine albums, each featuring Marie’s writing.

Hunchbacks*

January 23, 2022


2021 Walk Award
by David P. Drummond

We launched where
pioneer cabins gathered
long, glass and resin craft
of ancient organic design
Hidden ruby-colored bark
in their alder shoreline stance
Hangs of strobili and catkins
unto a river mirror move
Tar paper flaps, spirit bird
and whistle-call from eagle
Southpaw slough steerage
past woody debris, of flood water

A rest on cedar springboard
grey-blue feather dreads
trench coat trundle
after scale-leg and bare toes
Whisper paddle alerts
his golden-eye, sabre-
beak stare, at ‘yakers
Vanguard sentinel for
shaggy-squawk flock
of Jurassic fly-a-ways
Nooksack nobility flushed
from sleepy longhouse hide

*Copyright © 2021 by David P. Drummond. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Poet’s bio:
David P. Drummond gives attention to insights from Our Universe and shares them in poetry, classes and discussion. You can read him in: Clover, Whatcom Watch, and the Noisy Water and Solstice anthologies. He also enjoys fresh perspectives with open-hearted people via WWU/ALL, WA Department of Ecology, Coastal Forest Merlin Project and beyond. Inspiration for this poem: “Seeking a shared outdoor odyssey, we kayaked the slow-flow of the Nooksack River to its confluence with Bellingham Bay. Here is a ‘slice of my senses’ experiential on our Time-Space Continuum.”

Still Life: Geneva Pond*

January 15, 2022


2021 Merit Award
by Kathleen Byrd

I make my self in the nature preserve
a home to taste names in silence —
Miner’s Lettuce, Stinging Nettle,
Bleeding Heart, and — hear deet, deet
of an unseen Chickadee and tap
tap, tap of a Sap Sucker’s red head.

Geneva is a rename, a claim
of place — of Salmon Berry, Heron, of Owl.
Geneva is a gilded city, a Juniper
Tree, a Euro-myth. The trees here hold secrets
close and still. Thuja Plicata, I roll a
taxonomy of botany on my tongue — Western
Red Cedar — not cedar — after all.

At the edge of the pond, I see —
not see, really — but glimpse
what was there and gone —
the black eyes of a frog on the surface.
I focus to capture a look, a name,
but it’s already gone, letting go
the trace of its being
circling the surface of Geneva pond.

*Copyright © 2021 by Kathleen Byrd. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

placards!

December 30, 2021

Due to unanticipated delays, we’ve been remiss in posting the illustrated placards for the 2021 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest winning poems. That’s about to be corrected. Over the coming weeks, each of the 25 winning poems will appear in this space and also be linked to the Winners page.

The Contest is deeply grateful to this year’s illustrious judges, Robert Lashley and Elizabeth Vignali, and also extends thanks to the four artists who have added their vision to the poets’ words: Angela Boyle, Megan Carroll, Christian Anne Smith, and Kimberly Wulfestieg.

Meet the artists 2021

June 4, 2021

Each year, the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest engages a small cadre of artists to interpret and illustrate the winning poems. The resulting placards are displayed on buses, in local libraries, here on The Poetry Department, and in other locations around Whatcom County, Washington. The contest is fortunate to have four devoted artists committed to the project year after year and we reintroduce them here.

ANGELA BOYLE
As a cartoonist and natural science illustrator, I like to blend my passions together into both nonfiction and science fiction comics. My focus is the natural world: the plants and animals we can see and interact with, or at least potentially interact with. You can get my comics through my StoreEnvy shop and my nature illustrations on mugs and pillows through Society 6. I am currently working on a graphic novel biography of Maria Sibylla Merian and the late 1600s. You can follow my research and read pages early on Patreon. I recently published a young adult sci-fi, Threadbare Memories, and have four volumes of the natural science comic anthology that I run, Awesome ‘Possum. Coming April 2022 from First Second (already available for preorder), I wrote the comic Maker Comics: Live Sustainbly, drawn by Les McClaine. My general social media (Twitter and Instagram) is angelabcomics, and my personal website is angelabcomics.com, which has links to everything, including many more comics. I am also a freelance editor, illustrator, and designer: publication.flyingdodostudio.com. Photo Copyright Abe Olson.

MEGAN CARROLL
I once told my husband that making art was not an option it was a need. I have to make art, I have to use my hands. I believe in craftsmanship, I research every single one of my ideas, draw several sketches, collect images, words and doodles. I throw out several ideas and save what I think are the very best ones. As an artist I collaborate with those around me, seeking feedback and critique. My illustrations have a minimalist style that leans heavily on mark making. I love strong lines that create a visual impact using simple repetitive shapes. I would describe myself as a mixed media artist as my current works are digital, surface and pattern design, illustration, fabric and clay. I received my BFA from Emily Carr University in Vancouver, BC, and I have made my home in Bellingham for the last eight years. You can buy my prints, including the ones inspired by the poems in this contest, on Society 6 and find out more on meganhcarroll.com and on Instagram @meganhcarroll_arts.

CHRISTIAN ANNE SMITH
I like to tell stories with art. I love garish and fantastical characters. I enjoy human beings and my art explores stories of human emotion as well as my passion for costumes, colors, textures and intriguing environments. Growing up on the coast of Maine, I was surrounded by stories and images of the region’s folklore. Selkies, mermaids, ghosts and pirates were all believably real entities to me. My childhood fascination with monsters and supernatural beings continues and influences the way I choose to portray people. I also have a need to express with my art. I become inspired, and have worked hard to train myself to go into a sort of trance that allows what’s inside to come out. It’s only later that I can look with any objectivity on something that I’ve created and perhaps get a glimpse of what I was feeling or thinking. It is akin to the way one might analyze a dream. I may start a painting or puppet with a certain image in mind, but I allow the original image to change or even get completely painted over whenever I start to see new things. I am often quite confused about how I am feeling until after I paint, draw, or build things and the truth comes to the surface. This is the way I best communicate with myself. In this way I suppose nearly all my paintings are also portraits of my life. Find out more on christianannesmith.com.

KIMBERLY WULFESTIEG
Kimberly Wulfestieg is a paper cutting, rainbow making, poetry loving mother and teacher from Northern California. She is inspired by the beautiful nature and open hearts that surround her. She is a self-taught artist who has always been enamored with the color and texture of paper and collage. She employs a wide array of colored papers, scissors, scalpels, knives, and glue, and uses them in conjunction with details and patience. She runs the Natural Learning Center in Bellingham and loves to share her joy of art and words with the children she works with. Also known as K. Wulfe, more of her work can be seen on Facebook at K. Wulfe and followed on Instagram @kimwulfy.


2020 Merit Award
By Richard Widerkehr

written the week of the Douglas High School shootings; a bump stock lets a shooter fire dozens of rounds in seconds

Under this streetlight, a possum
lopes by brick houses, its gray-white muzzle
and needle nose low to the street.

Take action, said our rabbi.

Standing by my car,
I wonder who needs a bump stock
for self-defense.

Not right or wrong, needing no carry permit,
the possum skitters into an alley.

The empty street, the streetlight.

An alertness sends out tendrils,
almost part of the dark.

*Copyright 2020 by Richard Widerkehr. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

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