Meet the judges!

January 17, 2019

The 14th annual Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest will accept single-poem submissions from Whatcom County residents during the month of March 2019.

This year’s contest judges are Jessica Lohafer and Christopher Patton.

Jessica Lohafer is a Bellingham writer whose work has appeared in Whatcom Magazine, The Sweet Tree Review, Drunk in the Midnight Choir, Nailed Magazine, and Red Sky: Poetry on the Global Epidemic of Violence Against Women. Her collection of poem, What’s Left to Be Done, was published by Radical Lunchbox Press in 2009. She received a master’s degree in fine arts in poetry from Western Washington University in 2014. More at Jessica Lohafer. (Photo: Mallory Opel)

Christopher Patton is a Bellingham poet, translator, and cross-genre artist. His most recent book, Unlikeness is Us, published by Gaspereau in 2018, is a volume of translations from Old English. Video poems from his work-in-progress SCRO have been exhibited at Whatcom Museum and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. He teaches at Western Washington University and blogs at The Art of Compost.

There is no cost to enter the contest. Twenty-five winners are chosen and are invited to read their poems at a free public awards ceremony on Thursday, May 16, 2019, at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. Ten Walk Award winning poems are displayed in front of the Bellingham Public Library, and are displayed on WTA buses along with 15 Merit Award winning poems. Winning poems and placards are also presented on The Poetry Department and may be displayed at libraries and other locations around the county.

To submit entries during March, please review and follow the guidelines on the 2019 Contest page and find additional information on the FAQs page.

Poems may be submitted in a variety of ways:

  • Mail to Boynton Poetry Contest, PO Box 1192, Bellingham, WA 98227.
  • Email to BoyntonPoetryContest@hotmail.com (Word document preferred; please title document with the title of the poem).
  • Deliver to Mindport Exhibits, 210 W. Holly St., Bellingham, from noon to 6pm Wednesday-Friday, 10am to 5pm Saturday, or noon to 4pm Sunday.
  • Deliver to Film is Truth, inside Allied Arts Building, 1419 Cornwall Ave., Suite B, Bellingham, from noon to 10pm daily.
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these Sundays

December 23, 2018

For the past 25 Sundays, this space has featured the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest winning poems and the beautiful placards designed for each poem (now circulating in Whatcom County buses). We’ve completed the round of 2018 winners, but if you’d care to re-visit them, or any of the Boynton winners since 2006, go to the Winners page and click on a poem name.

The 2019 contest will be open to Whatcom County poets for the month of March and the guidelines will be posted as soon as the judges have been confirmed and the details have been finalized by the contest committee.

Meanwhile, thanks for your poems, thanks for your visits to The Poetry Department, and Happy Holidays!


2018 Merit Award
By Roger William Gilman

I have never in my life
given orders to the morning
or sent the dawn to its post
Told it to grasp earth by its tail
and shake the shining out of it.

I have never in my life
seen a star’s dark socket
or met the janitors of shadows
Visited the place where snow is stored
or made water hard as stone.

And I’ve never in my life
hacked a path for thunder
or tilted the flasks of heaven
To melt dry clods to mud:
I’ve never conjured weather.

Yet at the point of a pen
I’ll demand of my ink
a passion/ pulse/ and power/
To make you laugh and sing
as if skies weren’t always grey.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2018 by Roger William Gilman. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

underestimated*

December 9, 2018


2018 Merit Award
By Allie Haugen, grade 10

i will write words you do not like
i will write words you do not agree with
& i will write the words i am afraid to say aloud

but i am not you.
you see, we do not have the same mind

we must disagree
but i will not be made small.

do not misunderstand,
listen closely

my voice is just as valid as yours
i will not be a duplicated version of you

i do not want to be you.
i want to be me

. . . . .
Allie Haugen has never published or even thought of writing poetry until now. The first poem she wrote won this contest. She currently lives with her parents in the county, cheering for the Meridian Trojans and writing whenever she gets a chance.

“underestimated” was inspired by everything that I have yet to write. Reading Rupi Kaur and R.H. Sin made me realize that poetry did not have to be boring and complicated. Poetry did not have to be like what we read in school. I could write something of my own. This is the beginning of everything to come.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2018 by Allie Haugen. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

I’m Just A Gal*

December 2, 2018


2018 Merit Award
By Megan Gillikin, grade 4

I’m just a gal walking into town,
Don’t really care if people stare.
With my big pink bright purse,
I hold the universe.
With my dark shiny blue coat
I don’t have to gloat.
With my bright yellow boots,
I turn and stare and there I see another me.
I’m just a gal walking in to town.

. . . . .
Hi, my name is Megan Gillikin. I attend Happy Valley Elementary. I love spending time outdoors and with my family. Some of my hobbies are drawing, climbing trees, writing, and swimming.

Inspiration for writing “I’m Just a Gal” came to me when in Texas while driving across country with my mom. We stopped at a gas station and the attendant called me, gal. As I looked about I noticed how people spoke with one another and that many wore cowboy boots. At the time, I had bought a big pink purse to hold a lot of toys so I wouldn’t be bored in the car and I felt I held the Universe.

I’m very happy my poem was selected, I hope you enjoy it.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2018 by Megan Gillikin. Broadside illustrated by Kim Wulfestieg.

If you ask*

November 25, 2018


2018 Merit Award
By Jackie Lomas, grade 12

If you ask me
I’ll tell you about the life in the hood,
To kneel beside you and watch you die
I’ll tell about trees and how my life is a fallen leaf
I am evil without a heart.
I’ll tell you about an argument that made me alone
A cold war, blood red mornings and a love no one knows,
You ask me I’ll tell about poor man’s vow to silence,
a girl’s broken heart that led to her brothers grave I’ll tell
you about a child’s scar that never fades seventeen-year-
old boys’ father never returns from work a baby born not
knowing whether to go left or right
we are all connected by our hearts and souls,
So, if you ask me I’ll tell you about life
And it ends.
If you ask me I’ll tell you about a family broken home
I’ll tell you about the dark times in my Mind
If you ask I’ll tell you about a friend who died,
about a girl who got bullied and committed suicide
If you ask I’ll tell you about the abandoned child
If you ask I’ll tell you about the girl who got raped
If you ask I’ll tell you about the mother who ran away.
If you ask me I’ll tell you.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2018 by Jackie Lomas. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

untitled*

November 18, 2018


2018 Merit Award
By Nora Whitley Abelite

Clouds of feathers numerous as snowflakes
Cacophony of honks, hums and whirs greet me at twilight
Crowded in gaggles they bed under a frosty moon.

At dawn they wake with breath rising into a misty sky
At dawn my heart thumps to their winged drum
At dawn they fly off to reap, glean and fatten.

Each day of winter, I seek their soaring splendor
Each day of winter, I count their growing numbers
Each day of winter, I wait for their return.

Then one warmer morning they fly away
Into a beckoning sky for their appointment
Thousands of miles north to the tundra,
Leaving the fallow, harrowed fields lonely
With a secret want for tulips.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2018 by Nora Whitley Abelite. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

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