The Leaf*

March 24, 2022


2021 Walk Award
by Noa Shelsta, 3rd grade

It is spring
I poke my head out of my branch
And yawn

And now it is summer
I fold my arms out of my cozy bed
I spread my arms to tickle the wind
And then I yawn and fold my arms
Back down again

And then before I know it
It is fall
I stretch my arms
That have turned into wings
And lift into the air
And flutter to the ground

Then it is cold winter
I huddle in the earth with the other leaves
Until next spring

*Copyright © 2021 by Noa Shelsta. Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

Low Down in the Blues*

March 20, 2022


2021 Walk Award
by Janette Lyn Rosebrook

A humpback breaches,
exposes the long pale accordion of its belly,
and splashes down.

A companion follows,
barnacle-starred flukes fan and slap
across the surface.

Listen for nocturne and solos,
some so low down in the blues
you cannot hear them.

A silvery calf
arches and spirals around its mother
like a dervish.

With whirling songs
the humpback trio turns and fades
into the depths.

The divers surface,
into the silent coda that follows
the passing of friends.

*Copyright © 2021 by Janette Lyn Rosebrook. Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

Poet’s bio:
Janette Rosebrook is a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, where she spent long childhood days in the woods, eating salmonberries and redcaps, and muddying up her good shoes in search of frogs. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia in 2019 and currently works at Western Washington University. Her work has appeared in Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim, Washington 129, and Solstice: Light and Dark of the Salish Sea.

“I started writing ‘Low Down in the Blues’ during the 2020 Poetry Marathon, an annual event founded by former Bellingham residents, Caitlin and Jacob Jans. I was inspired to finish the poem after good friends shared their incredible underwater photographs of a humpback whale family they encountered during a sailing trip. I was honored to read the poem at a memorial service for one of those friends. It was written in remembrance of my dear friend Bruce.”

Virus mourning*

March 16, 2022


2021 Walk Award
by Timothy Pilgrim

I resolved to cease grieving
once every trace of her was gone.

I donated hats, scarves, skirts, coats,
stowed her perfume, rings, Kindle,

phone. All spring, gathered strands
of hair from sofa, afghan,

chairs, placed each beside her urn.
My plan — heal during summer,

bury everything deep beneath aster,
cosmos, rose. Watch their blossoms

sway final farewell in wind —
until fall, when frost took hold.

But as the winter dark set in,
I stumbled upon her cache.

Vinyl gloves, goggles, masks
breathed my grief to light again.

*Copyright © 2021 by Timothy Pilgrim. Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

Poet’s bio:
Timothy Pilgrim’s life-story booklet in sixth grade included his first poem, and since then, over 500 others poems have been accepted by more than 100 different publications. A native of Montana and resident of the Pacific Northwest for all but two years of his life, he loves to garden, hike and snowshoe with his wife, the novelist and former WWU professor, Carolyn Dale. He taught journalism at WWU from 1992 until he retired in 2013 and has published two books of poetry (the latest, Seduced by metaphor: Timothy Pilgrim collected published poems, published in 2021).

“Virus mourning” emerged from a shower of grief — including a long bout over suffering and death of so many during this Covid plague and then the death of his 93-year-old mother-in-law in mid-March. “I’d held it in, and months passed without us being able to visit until shortly before she died a few weeks ago. Then the grieving piqued, and my imagination served up this poetic manifestation.”

Closure*

February 8, 2022


2021 Merit Award
by Arden Haines

Walking down the driveway — it was sunny that day —
To the orchard one last time.
I touched the apple and pear branches
Whose fruit, now asleep, I would never see
Then in the vineyard by reflex
Tweaking a branch here or there
Thinking about the years of pruning.
These trees and vines did not exist before me
But they will be here after me.
I walked up the barn stairs to the upper level
Viewed Mt Baker out the double doors
Where I sat on the edge surveying the farm.
A farmer’s life is a cycle of seasons
Each one has its list of tasks
This week is tilling; then is seeding;
Then the long patient days
Of summer weeding
Harvest comes and the
Putting up of stores for winter.
I lost my farm one July day
Just after using up the last quart of tomatoes.
You can steal a farm
But you can’t remove the farmer’s hand
Who grew it up and loved its vines and
Branches into being.

*Copyright © 2021 by Arden Haines. Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

Seagull*

January 7, 2022


2021 Merit Award
by Margaux Barber, 2nd grade

I walk out of the portable
pulling the lunch cart down the noisy ramp
I see a seagull, black-eyed, its feathers beautiful.
I walk into the school
pulling the lunch cart behind me.
I walk out to the schoolyard.
I see the seagull again, the same one black-eyed.
I wonder if I will see it again at recess.
I do not.

*Copyright © 2021 by Margaux Barber. Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

Poet’s bio:
“I like to read.”

Where I’m From*

January 3, 2022


2021 Merit Award
by Rylie Anderson, 6th grade

I am from the coral dahlias in full summer bloom
from the Norwex rags and messy room
I am from the jam-packed garden,
kale, radish, lettuce, tomato
I am from the half-read book
That two months later, I pick back up
the rocky bottoms, that once belonged to the chinook
I’m from the sticky rolls and big smiles
I am from many years of school,
That I too, want to pursue
I am from Gramps who fought in the war
And Ma’ma who can still play on the floor

I’m from the mad not bad and “won’t you stay little?”
I am from the with Him I shall fear no evil.
I’m from the four-hour drive through winter wonderland.
The sun kisses on our cheeks
I’m from Glendale and 500sq feet
I’m from the Jeep that was stuck in the mud
and the Cabin complete in a week
I am from wooden slippers and Stroopwafel
and six in a golfcart, lucky we didn’t topple
From the finally, someday, never, forever. And the now.
All the moments, all the people,
they shape me and make me into who I am.

*Copyright © 2021 by Rylie Anderson. Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

placards!

December 30, 2021

Due to unanticipated delays, we’ve been remiss in posting the illustrated placards for the 2021 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest winning poems. That’s about to be corrected. Over the coming weeks, each of the 25 winning poems will appear in this space and also be linked to the Winners page.

The Contest is deeply grateful to this year’s illustrious judges, Robert Lashley and Elizabeth Vignali, and also extends thanks to the four artists who have added their vision to the poets’ words: Angela Boyle, Megan Carroll, Christian Anne Smith, and Kimberly Wulfestieg.

Meet the artists 2021

June 4, 2021

Each year, the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest engages a small cadre of artists to interpret and illustrate the winning poems. The resulting placards are displayed on buses, in local libraries, here on The Poetry Department, and in other locations around Whatcom County, Washington. The contest is fortunate to have four devoted artists committed to the project year after year and we reintroduce them here.

ANGELA BOYLE
As a cartoonist and natural science illustrator, I like to blend my passions together into both nonfiction and science fiction comics. My focus is the natural world: the plants and animals we can see and interact with, or at least potentially interact with. You can get my comics through my StoreEnvy shop and my nature illustrations on mugs and pillows through Society 6. I am currently working on a graphic novel biography of Maria Sibylla Merian and the late 1600s. You can follow my research and read pages early on Patreon. I recently published a young adult sci-fi, Threadbare Memories, and have four volumes of the natural science comic anthology that I run, Awesome ‘Possum. Coming April 2022 from First Second (already available for preorder), I wrote the comic Maker Comics: Live Sustainbly, drawn by Les McClaine. My general social media (Twitter and Instagram) is angelabcomics, and my personal website is angelabcomics.com, which has links to everything, including many more comics. I am also a freelance editor, illustrator, and designer: publication.flyingdodostudio.com. Photo Copyright Abe Olson.

MEGAN CARROLL
I once told my husband that making art was not an option it was a need. I have to make art, I have to use my hands. I believe in craftsmanship, I research every single one of my ideas, draw several sketches, collect images, words and doodles. I throw out several ideas and save what I think are the very best ones. As an artist I collaborate with those around me, seeking feedback and critique. My illustrations have a minimalist style that leans heavily on mark making. I love strong lines that create a visual impact using simple repetitive shapes. I would describe myself as a mixed media artist as my current works are digital, surface and pattern design, illustration, fabric and clay. I received my BFA from Emily Carr University in Vancouver, BC, and I have made my home in Bellingham for the last eight years. You can buy my prints, including the ones inspired by the poems in this contest, on Society 6 and find out more on meganhcarroll.com and on Instagram @meganhcarroll_arts.

CHRISTIAN ANNE SMITH
I like to tell stories with art. I love garish and fantastical characters. I enjoy human beings and my art explores stories of human emotion as well as my passion for costumes, colors, textures and intriguing environments. Growing up on the coast of Maine, I was surrounded by stories and images of the region’s folklore. Selkies, mermaids, ghosts and pirates were all believably real entities to me. My childhood fascination with monsters and supernatural beings continues and influences the way I choose to portray people. I also have a need to express with my art. I become inspired, and have worked hard to train myself to go into a sort of trance that allows what’s inside to come out. It’s only later that I can look with any objectivity on something that I’ve created and perhaps get a glimpse of what I was feeling or thinking. It is akin to the way one might analyze a dream. I may start a painting or puppet with a certain image in mind, but I allow the original image to change or even get completely painted over whenever I start to see new things. I am often quite confused about how I am feeling until after I paint, draw, or build things and the truth comes to the surface. This is the way I best communicate with myself. In this way I suppose nearly all my paintings are also portraits of my life. Find out more on christianannesmith.com.

KIMBERLY WULFESTIEG
Kimberly Wulfestieg is a paper cutting, rainbow making, poetry loving mother and teacher from Northern California. She is inspired by the beautiful nature and open hearts that surround her. She is a self-taught artist who has always been enamored with the color and texture of paper and collage. She employs a wide array of colored papers, scissors, scalpels, knives, and glue, and uses them in conjunction with details and patience. She runs the Natural Learning Center in Bellingham and loves to share her joy of art and words with the children she works with. Also known as K. Wulfe, more of her work can be seen on Facebook at K. Wulfe and followed on Instagram @kimwulfy.

Volcanoes of Anger*

February 7, 2021


2020 Merit Award
By Stephen Jacob Huxford, Grade 7

I
Am
Alone
With no one to save me
Walking through the depths of my own soul.
Trudging through swamps of misdoubts,
And hiking the volcanoes of my own anger.
Facing tigers and lions of fear
And seeing my happiness in the sun.
But the sun is so far away and is just a dot.
The dot of happiness in everyone’s soul.
Shrouded by darkness, anger and fear,
All this leads to death.
The death of you and me,
The death of others, and the death of the earth.

*Copyright 2020 by Stephen Jacob Huxford. Broadside illustrated by Kim Wulfestieg.

Hope in Late Summer*

October 27, 2019


2019 Walk Award
By Stephany Vogel

Hope curled up in my hand
and slept the night away,
yet how cold and trembling
we found the thin light of day.

How steady I labored
to kindle the ashy white coals
until they bled fire,
white hot and full of holes.

I was made warm,
wrapped in a blanket of my own.
A comfort for my soul
until I could stand upright —
red, yellow, green
as summer apples in a bowl.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2019 by Stephany Vogel. Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

. . . . .
Stephany Vogel is a graduate of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington, and a life long visual artist and community arts educator. The poem ‘Hope in Late Summer’ refers to a time of dire illness and the first sense of real recovery, in the season of late summer. This is her first published poem.

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