meet the judges!

January 5, 2018

The 2018 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest won’t start accepting submissions for until March 1, 2018, but in anticipation of that date, you might want to acquaint yourself with the two distinguished poets who will serve as the 2018 contest judges: Richard Widerkehr and Jane Wong.

Richard Widerkehr’s new book of poems, In The Presence Of Absence, recently came out from MoonPath Press. He earned his M.A. from Columbia University and won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at the University of Michigan. He has one other collection of poems, The Way Home (Plain View Press), and three chapbooks, including Her Story of Fire (Egress Studio Press). Tarragon Books published his novel, Sedimental Journey. Recent work has appeared in Rattle, Arts & Letters, Bellevue Literary Review, and Measure. Other work is forthcoming in Atlanta Review, The MacGuffin, and Chiron Review.

Jane Wong’s poems can be found in Best American Poetry 2015, Pleiades, American Poetry Review, Third Coast, and others. A Kundiman fellow, she is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the U.S. Fulbright Program, the Fine Arts Work Center, and Bread Loaf. She is the author of Overpour (Action Books, 2016).


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.

meet the judges

March 5, 2016

This year’s judges for the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest are Luther Allen and Luci Shaw. 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 then work together to select the Walk and Merit winners.

Luther Allen 2015sLuther Allen writes poems and designs buildings from Sumas Mountain. He writes poetry to make sense of his place in the world, a sort of spiritual practice. He facilitates SpeakEasy, a community poetry reading series in Bellingham, and is co-editor of Noisy Water, a poetry anthology featuring 101 Whatcom County poets. His collection of poems, The View from Lummi Island, can be found at

Luci ShawLuci Shaw, a poet and essayist, is Writer in Residence at Regent College, Vancouver. She has authored over 35 books. Widely anthologized, her writing has appeared in Image, Weavings, Books & Culture, The Christian Century, Relief, Rock & Sling, Ruminate, Radix, Crux, The Southern Review, Stonework, Mars Hill, Nimble Spirit, Poetry East and others. She is a 2013 recipient of the Denise Levertov Award. Her most recent book of poetry is Scape. Coming in April, 2016, Sea Glass: New & Selected Poems (WordFarm) and The Thumbprint in the Clay (essays, IVP). For further information visit

introducing the judges

March 1, 2015

The Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest is now open for submissions from Whatcom County poets of all ages and experience. Each year, two accomplished poets who live in Whatcom County are invited to judge the submissions and select the 10 Walk Awards and 15 Merit Awards. This year’s judges are Jeanne Yeasting and Caleb Barber.

JEANNE YEASTING is a writer and visual artist. She teaches creative writing and literature at Western Washington University. Her most recent publications are poems in Cirque and the Mohave River Review.

Caleb BarberCALEB BARBER holds a BA in English from Western Washington University, as well as an MFA in poetry from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. He lives in Bellingham, Washington, where he works at an aerospace machine shop. He has been widely published in literary journals, notably in Fulcrum, New Orleans Review, Los Angeles Review, and he was featured in Poet Lore. His first book, Beasts and Violins, is available from Red Hen Press. The title poem appeared in Best American Poetry 2009.
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Caleb Barber photo by Brian Davidson

meet the judges…

February 13, 2013

The Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest, which will begin accepting submissions on March 1, 2013, is very pleased to introduce this year’s contest judges, Bruce Beasley and Mary Gillilan.

Bruce BeasleyBruce Beasley is the author of seven collections of poems, most recently Theophobia. He has won numerous awards for his poetry as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Artist Trust of Washington and three Pushcart Prizes in poetry. Beasley grew up in Macon, Georgia, and now lives in Bellingham, Washington, where he is a professor of English at Western Washington University. Photo: BOA Editions

Mary GillilanMary Gillilan is editor-in-chief of Clover, A Literary Rag, and leads writers groups at the Independent Writers’ Studio in Bellingham. She received a Governor’s award for editing a local history in Washington State, and has won awards for her writing from the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference and the Seattle Times. She is author of the novel Tibet, A Writer’s Journal and is currently working on a sequel.

For Contest guidelines, please visit the 2013 Contest page.

The Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest is enormously pleased to introduce our two judges for the 2012 contest, Jeffrey Morgan and Betty Scott.

Jeffrey MorganJeffrey Morgan is the author of Crying Shame, published by Blazevox Books. His writing has appeared in Cutbank, Diagram, Fourteen Hills, La Petite Zine and Spinning Jenny. He holds an MFA from Penn State University and teaches at Borough of Manhattan Community College. Jeffrey Morgan is spending the 2011/2012 academic year in beautiful Bellingham, Washington. You can visit him online at his blog Thin Nimbus.

Betty ScottBetty Scott is an award-winning poet, instructor, spiritual seeker, activist and editor. She holds a Master’s in Creative Writing from WWU and teaches oral and written communication at Bellingham Technical College and poetry workshops at Whatcom Community College’s community education program. Betty Scott’s writing has appeared in Bellowing Arc, Bellingham Review, Borders, fathoms, The Kumquat Challenge, Jeopardy, Labyrinth, Soundings Review, A World of Words and at She was featured at the World Poetry International Festival in Richmond, B.C., Canada, and was a 2010 award winner at Surrey International Writer’s Conference.

KMREAn interview with Maria McLeod, writer, poet, documentary filmmaker and one of the judges for the 2011 Sue Boynton Poetry Contest, will air this Sunday, August 14, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. (Pacific) on Bellingham’s independent radio station, KMRE 102.3FM. Maria talks about her work, including her prison interviews for Pam Kuntz’s ‘Prison Pieces’ and a reading of her powerful poem, After Birth.

Women’s Voices NW is hosted by Kate Nichols. In addition to the broadcast on KMRE, the program will be streamed and available on podcast in two segments.

Learn more about Maria McLeod at the How Loud Media website.

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