Spring Melody*

April 9, 2022


2021 Walk Award
by J.L. Wright

Renewal upon the calendar, days in months
unused, value yet unknown: unripened

unpicked fruits seeds split by yellow-green life
emoting from the ground.

Nowhere in particular
this year, this then, that is now.

And above, fresh grass sweet sod on which to grow.
Tangible truths — seeds rooted as the water comes.

I remember time’s measure,
cheerfully, for when spring

spreads out at last, settling into warmth
and stays — how life changes, shifting

from one poignant vision to another, forever
in these eternal fields.

*Copyright © 2021 by J. L. Wright. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

*inspired by “Fall Song” by Mary Oliver

Ode to Dodge Durango*

March 12, 2022


2021 Walk Award
by Maddie Patterson, 7th grade

You are not that car you see
on all the glamorous adds snuck between the Superbowl
You are not that car
worshipped by the ones with the earth in their eyes
You, piece of grimy mountain man’s metal
Are the car we’d ride wild — trout and trails
You, muddy wheeled trail chugger
Highland gravel path climber
With all your smoke and smog — you
No sleek, sexy white car could be as worshipped
— your cracks filled with green moss
Heavy with pine needles and ripped black leather
You carried our canoe — to the sunset and beyond
You carried our laughing bodies,
across the borders to Utah
You held us like we were your daughters,
as we sat sprawled on your roof
Every hot summer day

No, we want you, tender beast
We want your warm dirt on our feet
Your lights to guide us down the highway at night
Your trunk to carry our tangled fishing poles
Your engine humming against my cheek

*Copyright © 2021 by Maddie Patterson. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Sunset Sea*

March 8, 2022

2021 Merit Award
by Isabella Nelson, 7th grade

The sand so white, like a painting in my palm
Trees blowing in the crisp salty air
Sounds of waves overlapping each other
A ball of yellow light falling beneath the ocean waves
Glowing in hues of orange and pink
Shading into blues and blacks
Looking out you forget
Every trouble, and every worry
Smelling the salty air
And feeling the white sand beneath your toes
Hearing the mesmerizing sound of a riptide
So dangerous but yet, so peaceful
Seeing the lights fade in the background
You get up to leave, and you don’t care
That the sand is stuck to your toes
That the smell of salt has soaked into your hair
You don’t care about anything else in the world
When you walked onto that beach
You left behind every worry or care in the world
When you step off that beach
They start coming back
Like a flu you never quite got over
But you are tired, and you are in peace
And that peace covers up those worries like a blanket
Soothing them into no more then faint memories
For now, you sleep in peace

*Copyright © 2021 by Isabella Nelson. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Sweeping*

March 4, 2022


2021 Walk Award
by Jory Mickelson

Wood floors, but especially
stone set surely with concrete,
where I antagonize

the crevices. I love too, the straw —
bristles & their yellow throats

breaking, their imperfect
thousand hollow throats
bound into a chorus by red cord —

Definite & angry, the motion, driving
the dirt from everywhere, but especially

the unkindnesses
or rejections, which can feel
like questions about my integrity.

Thrust every dark thought clean,
let great clouds of dust fly up!

Yes, this, a cleansing:
vigorous & perfect work
and for nothing.

*Copyright © 2021 by Jory Mickelson. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Poet’s bio:
Jory Mickelson’s first book, Wilderness//Kingdom, is the inaugural winner of the Evergreen Award Tour from Floating Bridge Press and won the 2020 High Plains Book Award for poetry. His work has appeared in print and online in the US, Canada, and the UK. You can learn more about him and his writing at jorymickelson.com.

Interstate C-19*

February 28, 2022


2021 Merit Award
by Phelps S. McIlvaine

empty shelves, empty isles
empty bins, empty smiles
empty lights, empty stars
empty lots, empty cars
empty buttons, empty panels
empty voices, empty channels
empty highways, empty tanks
empty maps, empty thanks
empty halls, empty stairs
empty windows, empty glare
empty coats, empty shoes
empty drawers, empty rooms
empty diner, empty plate
empty food, empty taste
empty sidewalk, empty doors
empty chairs, empty floors
empty ashtrays, empty cans
empty desktops, empty pads
empty stares, from empty parks
empty souls, in empty hearts
mind may be a cycle insane
empty, full, and empty again
empty aches ‘til full arrives
grateful smiles when empty dies.

*Copyright © 2021 by Phelps S. McIlvaine. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

On Remembering*

January 11, 2022


2021 Merit Award
by Barbara Bloom

I listened to you breathing
I wanted to remember the sound of your breath.
W.S.Merwin

Still dark out, I wake slowly.
Even the cat still sleeps,
a warm lump curled into my leg,
and, having slid into you in the night,
I relish the warmth,
the familiarity of your flesh against mine,
and know the sharp need to hold it in memory,
yes, to memorize it, as the poet I read last night
does the morning — so many
poems about morning
in this book written as he approaches ninety,
nearly blind,
hearing the rain against the broad leaves
of some Hawaiian tree
and remembering his childhood
in a much different place,
those rains, those trees, those mornings —
knowing even memory
won’t hold them steady against time.

*Copyright © 2021 by Barbara Bloom. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

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.

Ocean waves*

March 28, 2021


2020 Walk Award
By Katen Van Harmelen, Grade 6

I am standing on the beach of the ocean,
The cool water reaching out
Just barely washing my toes.
The hot sun is warming my back,
The damp sand is cooling my feet,
I feel remarkably calm.
The sparkling waves are calling to me,
But I don’t go.
The water is dancing at my feet,
Daring me to chase them
As they retreat back to the ocean.
Finally,
I can’t help it any longer,
As the waves wash up to taunt me again,
I splash into them.
I chase them all the way until I am knee deep,
And then they start building up,
I run back to shore,
And turn around just as the wave crashes,
And becomes a ripple,
Washing over my feet once more.

*Copyright 2020 by Katen Van Harmelen. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Leftover*

February 21, 2021


2020 Merit Award
By Alexandra M. Lucas

Left over
Fruit left off the vine too long without being eaten
Left instead to decay
In the back of a crate
In some cheery farmer’s market
With no air conditioning

Almost all sold
We did well
Good enough!

Now I must do the proper thing —
Collapse into myself
On the bruises and patches of skin
That have lost their softness

Fade from view
So the ones approaching ripeness
Won’t be afraid

A cautionary tale

Look away, now
Look away

*Copyright 2020 by Alexandra M. Lucas. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

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