The Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest has just added another workshop to the season’s offerings. This one, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, is designed for kids of all ages and is entirely free.

11:00am – 12:15pm
John S Green
Free Children’s Poetry Workshop

In this FREE CHILDREN’S POETRY WORKSHOP, John Green will present poetry as a fun, engaging act of creative writing. His workshop will be interactive, inviting all participants to write in response to a variety of prompts. Questions will be encouraged. The discussion will include style — for example, prose vs. verse — as well as suggestions for making writing a life-long love. NOTE: While the workshop is designed for young poets, all ages are welcome! Parents/guardians/educators, please feel free to accompany your child/ren as well, and… if you feel inspired, write along!

See John S Green’s bio and registration information on the Workshops page and plan to join in the fun on March 3 — just in time to get your poem written for the 2021 Sue Boynton Poetry Contest!

The Bear*

January 17, 2021


2020 Walk Award
By Suzanne Harris

If grief is an animal, make it a bear
hibernating cold and hard
in the back-cave of your heart.
In the restlessness of spring,
groggy, hungry, it will rise without warning
gnawing its pain straight through.
There will be no escape
for the soft pulsing of your heart
torn and bled by that bear’s sharp incisors.

Grief, the sinner’s corsage —
unresolved guilt, moments which cut like a knife, then
bleed the loss across frozen expanses of forward-time
dancing with shadows from the past.
Memories sharp like razors slice your disbelief
to emptiness, sullen and alone.
The wind, such cool relief, blows
atoms of your loss across the frozen plain.

Some day you will rise above that bed of sorrow,
the sky so blue and bright
all you can see is white, miracle of sun light.
That bear, sated in the warmth
will sit amongst ripe berries on high hills,
at peace, at one, at last.

*Copyright 2020 by Suzanne Harris. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

The Park*

January 10, 2021


2020 Merit Award
By John S. Green

She sat on the park bench with a book, a mug of tea,
and short chic hair—fitness, style, grace—all this in
one glance. But what I loved about her was her
children. The young son and daughter were playing

with abandon. He stood on a tree stump and
proclaimed, “Ahoy mates, the pirates are charging—
get ready for battle!” His play-mates drew their
swords. The daughter straddled a branch high up

in a tree and was singing. She waved to a bird
perched above her, and to a squirrel as it scampered
by. Meanwhile, the brother and his jolly men were
in hand-to hand combat with the pirates down by

the park’s pond. The mother lay on the grass and
closed her eyes. Her daughter, down from the tree,
raced over, and jumped on her mom, who shrieked,
and grabbed her little one—they rolled over and over

with continuous laughter. When they stopped, the girl
grabbed a clump of grass, placing in on her mom’s
head, who said, “A crown! Thank you!” The boys
were now knee deep in the water looking for frogs.

*Copyright 2020 by John S. Green. Broadside illustrated by Christian Smith.

meet the judges: 2021

January 4, 2021

While the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest won’t open for submissions until March 2021 and the guidelines have not yet been updated, the judges have been selected and we are pleased to introduce them here.

A 2016 Jack Straw Fellow, Artist Trust Fellow, and nominee for a Stranger Genius Award, Robert Lashley has had work published in The Seattle Review of Books, NAILED, Poetry Northwest, McSweeney’s, and The Cascadia Review. His poetry was also featured in such anthologies as Many Trails to The Summit, Foot Bridge Above The Falls, Get Lit, Make It True, and It Was Written. His previous books include THE HOMEBOY SONGS (Small Doggies Press, 2014), and UP SOUTH (Small Doggies Press, 2017). His next book, THE GREEN RIVER VALLEY, will be published by Blue Cactus Press in 2021.
 
 
Elizabeth Vignali is the author of three chapbooks, the most recent of which is Endangered [Animal] (Floating Bridge Press 2019), and the poetry collection House of the Silverfish (Unsolicited Press 2021). Her work has appeared in Willow Springs, Cincinnati Review, Mid-American Review, Tinderbox, The Literary Review, and others. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she works as an optician, produces the Bellingham Kitchen Session reading series, and serves as poetry editor of Sweet Tree Review.

The 2021 Contest guidelines will be posted on the 2021 Contest page as soon as they are available. Meanwhile, please enjoy the Sunday postings of the 2020 winning poems…and, if you happen to live in Whatcom County, Washington, start planning your submission.

Outside*

January 3, 2021


2020 Merit Award
By Cristian Gonzalez, Kindergarten

I am playing outside with my brother.
A rainbow,
A sun.

*Copyright 2020 by Cristian Gonzalez. Broadside illustrated by Kim Wulfestieg.

on the job*

December 27, 2020


2020 Merit Award
By Randy Flowers

there was a time
when I
wore high topped Keds
dirty
filled with
my feet
and the beach

now my shoes are polished
stylish
but they still get
dirty
I go home at night
empty my
shoes of me
become a boy again
as I look
for sand
between my toes

*Copyright 2020 by Randy Flowers. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Northwest Rivers*

December 20, 2020


2020 Walk Award
By Eugene S. Fairbanks

Skykomish, Stehekin, Snoqualmie,
Wynoochee, Palouse, Okanogan,
Queets, Klickitat, Kootenai, Nooksack,
Sauk, Skookumchuck, Quillayute, Skagit —

Gather moisture in the mountains,
mingle rain with summer snowmelt;
fed by streams that trickle downward,
cold and clear, the waters chatter.

Cascade down through twisting canyons,
scour massive granite boulders,
plunge themselves from rocky ledges,
leap and roar like raging beasts.

Wend their way past peaks and ridges,
tumble through the wooded foothills,
ply vast stands of fir and hemlock —
nourish wetlands at their margins.

Drain broad fertile inland valleys,
spread high water over lowlands,
seek out bays and estuaries,
cycle rainfall to the ocean.

*Copyright 2020 by Eugene S. Fairbanks. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Silence*

December 13, 2020


2020 Walk Award
By Chloe Nahani Braunstein, Grade 2

On the pillow in my ear
I can hear my heartbeat.

Silence, for me, is when
I look up at the sky
clouds like big white stars
moving slowly across the wind.

Silence for me is when
the sea has no waves,
birds are not chirping,
dogs lose their bark,

and all humans grow quiet.
Silence means a lot to me.

*Copyright 2020 by Chloe Nahani Braunstein. Broadside illustrated by Kim Wulfestieg.

The immensely creative poet and mixed media artist Kathryn Smith will offer an online workshop to benefit the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest on Saturday, February 6, 2021, 10:00am-Noon. Read the complete description for “I Get Where You’re Coming From: Maps as a Framework for Poetry” on the Workshops page and register by submitting your payment of $30 via Venmo (www.venmo.com/SueC-BoyntonContest ) OR by check (made out to Sue C. Boynton Contest) mailed to PO Box 5442, Bellingham, WA 98227-5442.

. . . . .
image: Kathryn Smith, “Which Way to the Ocean?” 2019

On Becoming Rootless*

December 6, 2020


2020 Merit Award
By Barbara Bloom

Even in winds that shake the house,
the Western red cedar and Douglas fir
stand firm, only their upper trunks swaying
like the masts of ships in a strong swell,
and though the branches whip in the turbulent air,
the trees are solidly rooted, as I have to say
I am not, each breeze tossing me aside
as if, like the dandelion seeds children blow on
to send their wishes into the world, I had become
insubstantial, nothing to anchor me to the earth.

*Copyright 2020 by Barbara Bloom. Broadside illustrated by Kim Wulfestieg.

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