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 ( ) OR by check (made out to Sue C. Boynton Contest) mailed to PO Box 5442, Bellingham, WA 98227-5442.

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

poem places

August 6, 2020

PLACES is a peer-reviewed journal of public scholarship on architecture, landscape, and urbanism. In August 2017, Places presented a “special series on poems that can be read as maps, whose lines trace and transgress boundaries of identity and experience.” The Poems as Maps series features work by Elizabeth Alexander, Bao Phi, Joanne Diaz, Nikky Finney, Sean Hill, Andrea Jenkins, Douglas Kearney, J. Drew Lanham, Claudia Rankine, Barbara Jane Reyes, Sun Yung Shin, Evie Shockley, and Ocean Vuong, with an introductory essay by Taiyon J. Coleman. Enjoy.

poetry mapping

July 22, 2019

We’ve posted before on the subject of poetry maps. A new project, Places of Poetry, “aims to use creative writing to prompt reflection on national and cultural identities in England and Wales, celebrating the diversity, heritage and personalities of place.”

The Places of Poetry map has a distinctive 17th-century look, until you operate the slider at the bottom of the page, which turns it into a zoomable, contemporary Ordnance Survey map.

The site is open for writers to pin their poems (in English and/or Welsh) to places until October 4, 2019. It will then be closed for new poems but will remain available for readers.

There’s already plenty to keep you busy on the map. (It doesn’t look like so much until you start zooming and more and more places pop up.) Enjoy!

not poetry…but wait…

June 25, 2018

It’s no longer the weekend. Get back to work.

Hold on. Before you go, you have a few minutes, right? And you’ve been wondering what you should do with that photo you took… the one where you were staring at the cottage-cheese ceiling and saw Walt Whitman’s face? Apparently, if it happened within a hundred miles of Seattle, it belongs on Liminal Seattle.

This collection of bizarre sightings, phenomena, and strangenesses will, at least, gobble up your wait-time on hold, or on Monday morning. And they could use some more poetry on the map…

Liminal, the definition.

Mapping the World*

August 21, 2016

Mapping the World - Joe Nolting
2016 Merit Award
By Joe Nolting

I held your newborn body, felt the sudden
tug of your tiny heart on mine. Questions took root
as your dark eyes probed the universe. I had no answers
for these silent queries but drew a map of the world
above your crib so that you might find your way, travel
unburdened, never be lost. I shaded the landscape of
family and friends gold. Drew love’s gentle contours —
shapes of a head and heart and hand.
Traced routes skirting the debris field of loss.
As you grew older my map became frayed,
landmarks faded, known places vanished like smoke.
Soon you drew your own map of the world.
The countries were shaped like monsters and bore
terrifying names. Safe passageways had been erased.
Every crossing harbored new hazards. You read your map
as a blind man and journeyed in the darkness through
newly drawn continents of fear. For years you stumbled
across this troubled land, dropped a breadcrumb trail,
unraveled an endless ball of twine, whispered inchoate
prayers to keep from getting lost. Slowly, step-by-step
you found all that you needed to build a compass —
one whose needle floated on a tiny sea of courage
and always pointed to your heart. You tore up your map.
Now you knew the way and all the place
names sounded like love.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2016 by Joe Nolting. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Finding inspiration

June 25, 2016

Oregon Territory map 1833

When it comes to maps, Inspiration is more than a ghost town in Arizona. Maps offer mystery, language, design, history and direction. As described in Leo Kent’s article, The poetry of maps,” cartography has long been a resource for poets.

For the cartophile, various authors analyze the connection between poetry and maps for the publication Cartographic Perspectives (search for poetry).

For more, read the poem “Old Territory. New Maps.” by Deborah A. Miranda or browse The Cartographer’s Tongue by Susan Rich.

If you’re looking for inspiring maps, the Washington State Archives and State Library offer their extensive holdings free online. Visit Legacy Washington to see a list of historical maps of various types from various time periods. (Note that a plug-in is required and may be installed from the site to view the maps in high resolution and to zoom, pan, adjust color, etc.)

Where will your poetry take you next?
. . . . .
Oregon Territory map

prompting the stone

October 16, 2015


In case it is not noted on your calendar, today, Friday, October 16, 2015, is Geologic Map Day. Geologic maps are not only gorgeous and data-rich, but they are also, um, legended with fantastic language. If your poetic vocabulary could use a tectonic shift, this should help.
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USGS map

putting poetry on the map…

November 29, 2011

A Sense of Place on Google Earth

A Sense of Place: The Washington State Geospatial Poetry Anthology makes use of Google Earth technology to combine poetry, images and mapping. Edited by Katharine Whitcomb, Robert Hickey and Marco Thompson, all of Central Washington University, the project anchors Washington State place-specific poems to their geographic location. When a viewer clicks on a blue icon on the Google Earth map, a new window opens with the full text of a poem, a photograph of the location and a brief bio of the poet.

Google Earth software is required for viewing, but you can learn more about the project at The Center for Geospatial Poetry.

P.S. This just in: a presentation and reading from A Sense of Place will be included in the Cascadia Poetry Festival on Sunday, March 25, 2012. Mark your calendar!

Window Seat*

September 16, 2010

Placard design by Egress Studio
You can also read this poem here.
Poem copyright 2010 by Ellie Rogers. This poem is included in POETRY WALK: Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest – The First Five Years. Info: Book! Placard design by Egress Studio.

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