Our First Apartment*

May 28, 2023

2022 Merit Award
By Flannery White

our sheets suspend across my second-
hand chairs; our socks and delicates
overwhelm his drying rack
we read together in
our laundry-wrapped room
our belongings

*Copyright © 2022 by Flannery White. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

Poet’s bio:
After growing up overseas in Beijing and The Hague, Flannery White moved to the Pacific Northwest at 17 to attend the University of Washington. Her work has previously appeared in Potluck Mag, Foliate Oak, Cirque, and the “Your Body of Water” Collection of the Seattle Poetry on Buses project. “I began writing ‘Our First Apartment’ soon after my now-husband and I moved in together. I didn’t want to forget the poignancy of our first small, shared space, knowing we would eventually move on to larger pastures. I choose to use a nonet because the decreasing line length down to one final syllable echoes a relationship deepening into a single shared life, and nicely mirrors folding laundry, too.”

NOTE: a chapbook of the 2022 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest winning poems, including this one, is available at Village Books in Bellingham. All sales profits benefit the annual contest.

2022 Merit Award
By Vincent Tsan

You are like your house
Earthy and youthful
And all the smells you cook yourself into

You are your backyard garden, transformed from hand
The wooden bed with summer kale and beets

You are the tarp you made that protects your foyer
And the pieces of dark sturdy wood that bind your house
That is still there when I come over

You gave life to the thanksgiving party
Cranberry cider and shrimp chips fizz in my mouth

On the top of your tall staircase is
A party of rubber ducks with various costumes
You make ME look forward to growing up
So I can buy my own house

I will buy rubber ducks
And through living, I will become a house

You are life at the purest form,
I love you Yee Ma

*Copyright © 2022 by Vincent Tsan. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

Poet’s bio:
“My name is Vincent Tsan. I am 18 years old. This is my first published poem. I will graduate from Sehome High School and plan to attend WWU. My favorite food is either dumplings or char siu bao (Chinese Barbecue Pork bread). ‘Yee Ma and her Homey Vibe’ is about being excited to grow up. Yee Ma means Aunt in Cantonese, which is my native tongue. Her home is one of my favorite places in the world and I celebrate many fun holidays at her house. I want a house like hers when it is the time for me to buy my own home.”

NOTE: a chapbook of the 2022 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest winning poems, including this one, is available at Village Books in Bellingham. All sales profits benefit the annual contest.


March 26, 2023

2022 Merit Award
By Blake Heuett

There is an enemy inside my mind.
He cradles my thoughts whispering
False promises of protection.
Do not move, do not breathe, do not speak.
Do not embarrass yourself.

I am drowned beneath the ocean
Of my own insecurity.
The safety of the bathroom
Under the flicker of the fluorescent lights
I stare into the mirror, and glare at his sour face.

“Stop it, get out of my head!”
And anxiety will swear
“I am only trying to protect you.”
And the insecurities will whisper 

You are your own worst enemy.”

*Copyright © 2022 by Blake Heuett. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.


December 18, 2022

2022 Walk Award
By Chloe Braunstein

deep down in your roots, there
is a voice, a song, deep down
in your roots, there is a start,
a beginning.

has a voice,
find yours.

*Copyright © 2022 by Chloe Braunstein. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

Poet’s bio:
Chloe Braunstein loves to write poetry, create art, dance, and sing. She is 9 years old, attends Bellingham Family Partnership Program, and has a dog named Izzy. “I wrote this poem when my mom was making Peace Postcards. I saw the image of flowers and people on the back of a postcard — and this poem came to me. I want the reader to know how to find their voice, and see how other people find theirs.”

looking back, looking forward

December 10, 2022

As you may know, in addition to being an independent site focused on all-things-poetry in Cascadia, and sometimes beyond, The Poetry Department began, and continues to serve, as the public platform for the annual Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. That entails announcing events and deadlines, posting guidelines, and each year, posting the winning poems and the artful placards that display them.

The contest is exceedingly grateful to judges Victor Ortiz and Dayna Patterson, who selected the winning poems, and to the four artists who applied their considerable talents to illustrate the placards: Angela Boyle, Megan Carroll, Kimberly Wulfestieg, and Christian Anne Smith.

Tomorrow, Sunday, December 11, 2022, and each of the next 24 Sundays, the text of one of the winning poems will be displayed along with the placard and a brief bio of the poet. Each poem will be linked on the Winners page once it has appeared here.

The Sue Boynton Poetry Contest is a wonderful Whatcom County community project that is run entirely by volunteers. If you care about community poetry and have a few hours available to help, the contest committee is in need of an infusion of new volunteers for a variety of tasks. Please contact Joan Packer at torchlite AT yahoo.com or phone (360) 714-1306.

%d bloggers like this: