The judges for the 2017 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest are Jacob Hartsoch and Laura Laffrado. As always, after submissions are closed (March 31) the judges will both read every single poem that is submitted (without knowing the name of the poet) and will then work together to select the Walk and Merit winners.

Jacob HartsochJacob Hartsoch grew up in a small Montana town and was inspired by Richard Hugo’s poetry about local places he knew and loved. His work has been selected three times in the annual Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest and he is the recipient of the Gonzaga University Costello Award in poetry. He lives in Bellingham with his wife and two young boys and is currently excited about wind, water, and reducing his family’s carbon footprint. Photo by Sheila Carson.

Laura LaffradoLaura Laffrado’s current work is focused on returning forgotten Pacific Northwest writer Ella Rhoads Higginson to literary prominence. Her most recent book is Selected Writings of Ella Higginson: Inventing Pacific Northwest Literature (2015). Laffrado is also author of Uncommon Women: Gender and Representation in Nineteenth-Century US Women’s Writing (2009, 2015) and other books and essays. She is Professor of English at Western Washington University.

This year’s guidelines are posted on the 2017 Contest page.


Of the Sea*

September 4, 2016

Of the Sea - Jacob Hartsoch
2016 Merit Award
By Jacob Hartsoch

Say it in all caps.
That you were wet and walloped.

That before you spoke for your people
you pulled nets black at dusk,
salt and blood on your hands.

Somewhere it happened, the camas
still moist in the meadow. Sharp knives
and northern lights were not enough.

Coal seams ran, dirty and dark.

Old men stopped standing on towers,
went up river to empty cabins,
played dusty book charades.

We cannot outlast each other, you said.

And so they came. Six man boats
pulled hard down the strait, as birds
burst from silt then circled back,

one wing high to the wind.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2016 by Jacob Hartsoch. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Wanapum Remorse*

October 11, 2015

WANAPUM REMORSE by Jacob Hartsoch
2015 Walk Award
By Jacob Hartsoch

Wanapum Remorse

She came West to find this.
Scattered shards of rock and waters held back,
two road towns abandoned in dust.
The places her people might have gone.

It was all blasted away of course. Parted out
across the rivulets of Washington
or worked slow from empty coulees, past
skittish ghosts in empty lawns, the people
and the water just the same.

Long nights she studied, in her eyes
that undergrowth, that vagabond,
that restless try of the historian
working too close to her own history.

On the last hot canyon day she did this.
Scampered to the water, wreathed in turquoise
and neon sunglasses, dark arms overhead.
Poet, fisherman, other, we all saw it.
Saw her dance barefoot and bent to the wind,
the dam flaking, the Columbia trying to move.
. . . . .
*Copyright 2015 by Jacob Hartsoch. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

%d bloggers like this: