plaques on view

November 28, 2021

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to visit the newly (and wonderfully) remodeled downtown Bellingham Public Library, it’s here: the plaques of the 2021 Walk Award winners in the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest are now in place and will remain on view until the 2022 plaques are installed.

Along with the ten Walk poems, a plaque features a poem by the contest’s namesake, Sue C. Boynton, and another acknowledges this year’s generous donors: C S Downing, Solon & Sharon Boynton III, Louis & Janet Nelson, Evan Friedman, Jan Pierson, Luther Allen, and George Drake and the Drake Family Fund at Whatcom Community Foundation. Special thanks to the Bellingham Public Library and to the Birchwood Garden Club, which maintains the planters that are home to the plaques.

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pictured: “I Got Lost in my Book” by Peyton Eberhardt

a visit from Rick Steves

October 20, 2021

Rick Steves may be “America’s most respected authority on European travel,” but Washington state is his home base and poetry is on his agenda. With that in mind, Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism invited Rick Steves to sample the local fare, which he did, in three episodes. In the third and final segment, his cultural tour concludes with a poem read by Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest. We don’t get to see Rena, but we get a coastal flyover and we hear her voice as she reads her pantoum, “Focus and Circuli: Songs on the Salmon Scale” beginning at about 04:30 on the video timer.

Sunday in Fairhaven

September 1, 2021

Join poet Kevin Murphy and singer-songwriter Louis Ledford on Sunday, September 5, 2021, starting at 5:30pm, for poems and music in the lovely sycamore garden area outside the Firehouse Performing Arts Center, 1314 Harris Avenue, in Fairhaven (Bellingham). Donations accepted. The Firehouse Cafe closes at 5:30pm, but if you arrive a little early, you can grab a snack or beverage to enjoy during the performance.

Cirque in Bellingham

August 19, 2021

Cirque Press and Cirque Journal come to Bellingham tomorrow, Friday, August 20, 2021, 7:00pm Pacific, for a real, in-person reading (and a no-host bar) at the Mount Baker Theatre Encore Room.

Mount Baker Theatre requires masks and either a Proof of Vaccination or evidence of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event.

The reading will also be available on Zoom (code 1111).

Cirque Press authors Jerry McDonnell and Dave Rowan will read from Out There in the Out There and Loggers Don’t Make Love, respectively, followed by readings from Cirque, Volume 11, No. 2, featuring Luther Allen, Kristina Boratino, Linda Conroy, Jenifer Fernandez, Sandra Kleven, David M. Laws, John Morgan, Corbin Muck, David Rowan, Alan Weltzien, and others.

new venue in Bellingham

July 11, 2021

people seated in a long patio in front of a building

If you were reading carefully, you may have noticed Gelato & Poetry Night listed in our recent face to face post. Here’s a bit more about this new Bellingham venue.

All That Jazz Boutique Gallery is located at 1015 Railroad Avenue, which is the pedestrian-only extension of Railroad, south of the Bellingham Farmers Market and Boundary Bay. Along with beer, wine, gelato, and light food fare, All That Jazz has an outdoor patio that hosts a variety of events each week, including Gelato & Poetry Night (second and fourth Sundays, 6:00pm, feature plus open mic), Tango Night, Opera Night, Salsa Dance Night, Swing Dance Night, and more.

All That Jazz does not post a schedule of events, but would be happy to add you to their email announcement list. Just send an email to and ask to be added to the ATJ Event email list.

George F. Drake

September 2, 2020

We are deeply saddened to learn that George F. Drake died this week. George has appeared on these pages many times, most recently in May 2019, when we honored him as founder of the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest and its most generous donor.

But poetry was far from George’s only passion. He was an avid traveler, a lifelong Scout, and an outspoken community activist. He supported the arts, brought sculpture to Bellingham’s streets and to Big Rock Garden, and founded Sculpture Northwest.

After serving in Korea, George remained committed to the welfare of Korean orphans, establishing the Korean War Children’s Memorial. He taught at Western Washington University (WWU) where he was (among other roles) Chair of the Center for East Asian Studies. His credentials, and the lives he influenced, are too numerous to list.

The Bellingham Poem Booth will honor George Drake’s memory with a call for poems about him or about Big Rock Garden.

George was a familiar sight around downtown Bellingham garbed in his poncho and dramatic tusk necklaces, always eager to share a story or to hear yours. We are deeply grateful to have known him.

Here is a link to George Drake’s obituary in the Bellingham Herald.

. . . . .
2006 photo

The Millions shows up pretty regularly on our What to Read Now postings. But in addition to reviewing books, art, and culture, they also keep track of trends. Each month, The Millions compiles a list of the top-ten sellers on Amazon. As you might expect, the list is pretty heavily loaded with fiction, so we were delighted to find Tell It Slant on the June 2020 list.

Written by Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola, both prolific writers and professors of English at Western Washington University (Bellingham, Washington), Tell It Slant is a bookshelf essential for writers of every stripe. While the focus of the book is creative nonfiction, the resources it offers are easily applied to poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and other literary forms. Originally published as a textbook in 2003, Tell It Slant is now in its third edition and available from McGraw-Hill or an independent bookstore (with curbside pickup) near you.

Congratulations to Brenda and Suzanne!

Dress Poetry

June 6, 2020

Back in early February, when it seemed like a gallery exhibit was entirely feasible, we posted a call for poems about dresses. In the intervening months, somehow, many dresses have emerged from their layers of tissue paper, shaken out their wrinkles, and offered themselves as poetry touch points.

Though the Allied Arts gallery in downtown Bellingham is not open for business-as-usual, there are dresses and poems in the window through June 27, 2020, and you can also read the poems and see photos of the dresses (and some of the poets and their muses) on the Allied Arts gallery page.

Special thanks to curator/poet Leslie Wharton.

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:
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

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!

meanwhile at ModPo

April 6, 2020

We’re huge fans of Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (ModPo), the massive open online course (MOOC) offered free each year through Coursera. The ten-week intensive begins each September and tens of thousands of people participate, many taking it over and over.

Perhaps you’re one of the people who has considered enrolling but just couldn’t jam in another commitment in the fall. Well, here’s some good news from instructor Al Filreis (italics added for emphasis):

The course site is open every day, all year. Come in and read some poems, watch our videos about those poems, and join the conversation in the discussion forums. You need not wait until September 5, 2020, to be part of ModPo 2020. However, please do note that starting on September 5, and running for ten weeks thereafter, we will all together move through the syllabus during what we call our annual “symposium mode.” That mode features daily office hours held by TAs, super-lively discussion forums, in-person meet-ups in various locations, and weekly live interactive webcasts on Wednesdays.

To clarify: our annual 10-week symposium mode is what our friends at Coursera think of as “a course.” But — again to clarify — ModPo is unusual in that it is an ongoing open session. Once you “enroll” you are with us, unless you un-enroll, season after season, year after year. Our syllabus expands constantly and there are always new poems and new videos to read and watch. So please stay with us!

Sign up. Your poetry may never be the same!

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