May 19, 2022

It’s Thursday, May 19, 2022, and tonight’s the night! Celebrate winning poets and poems for the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest at 7:00pm on Zoom. Or click here, if you need to join by phone.

Please arrive a few minutes early so the ceremony can start promptly at 7.


May 16, 2022

The committee of the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest invites you to join the awards celebration for the 2022 contest winners. This year’s ceremony will be held online on Thursday, May 19, 2022, at 7:00pm Pacific.

You’ll hear a few words from the judges, Victor Ortiz and Dayna Patterson, snappy repartee from everyone’s favorite emcee, Kevin Murphy, and then you’ll hear the 10 Walk Award and 15 Merit Award winners read their poems.

Click to join the Awards Ceremony on Zoom, or here, if you need to join by phone.


May 3, 2022

We have winners!

The esteemed judges, Victor Ortiz and Dayna Patterson, have read every submission and made their (always difficult) choices for the winners of the 2022 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. Congratulations to:

Margaux Barber, Chloe N. Braunstein, Bliss Goldstein, Maureen Kane, Marley Lotts, Amanda Norenberg, Matthew Stuckey, Alina Tsakhniv, Leslie Wharton, Hayley Van Ness.

Luther Allen, Kathryn Aspinall, Rusty Bower, Linda Conroy, Kyle Heaton, Blake Heuett, Dylan Jacobs, Heidi Kenyon, Timothy Pilgrim, Capucine W. Rougny, Luci Shaw, Sheila Sondik, Vincent Tsan, Joselyn Vasquez, Flannery White.

The list of poets and poems can be found on the Winners page. After the artists have completed their work on the placards, and sometime after the awards ceremony, Thursday, May 19, 2022, 7:00pm on Zoom (details soon), the poems and placards will appear here and will be linked to the poem titles on the Winners page.

We congratulate the winners — and offer a special shout out to all of the poets who had the courage to submit their work to this year’s contest.

at the local library

April 15, 2022

Nice to see POETRY WALK: Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest, The First Five Years on display in such good company at the Bellingham Public Library for National Poetry Month. Edited by Nancy Canyon and Anita K. Boyle, and designed and illustrated by Nancy Canyon, the 152-page collection includes the full text of all winning poems from 2006 through 2010. Copies are still circulating in the Whatcom County Library system and at Western Washington University.

A second five-year collection was published in 2015 and chapbooks of winning poems have been published annually since then. The 2022 chapbook will be available at the time of the awards ceremony, Thursday, May 19, 2022.


April 5, 2022

2021 Merit Award
by Genevieve Whelan, 6th grade

I look up at my brother who is tall.
I love him in the morning, noon, and night.
He sometimes answers the phone when I call.
He loves his little sis; he will not fight.
My heart leaps because of my big brother.
All I want is my brother to come home.
My big brother loves me and my mother.
I will wait outside for him with my comb.
I wipe my tears when I think of my love.
I loved playing soccer with him and friends.
He opens his arms like wings of a dove.
If he would just come home, it just depends.
Please, Jacob, come home because I love you.
Please come home because I am feeling blue.

*Copyright © 2021 by Genevieve Whelan. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.


April 1, 2022

2021 Merit Award
by Kami Westhoff

On nights the sky is a tantrum of texture and tone
I carry your ashes to the bridge. I ocean the hush
of traffic, cliff the scaffolding of buildings built
for collapse, force clouds into shapes of impossible
creatures. I think this is how you’d like to forever.

So often the skeleton gets forgotten, eclipsed
by organs that bleed or burst, quiver or collapse.
A needle in the retina to suspend blindness,
a scribble of gristle carved from tissue. I’m guilty
of this forgetting, so desperate to tether myself
to the trench of your memory, I missed the cathedral
of your bones.

There’s no way of knowing, but sometimes I wonder
what part of you I carry. The fissured section of a once-
fractured jaw, the clavicular cradle of morning-after
nightmares, or something more sacral, a bone so holy
even fire can’t ash it.

*Copyright © 2021 by Kami Westhoff. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

Poet’s bio:
Kami Westhoff is a writer, poet, and teacher from Bellingham, Washington. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks and a collection of short stories forthcoming in 2022. “Osteo” was inspired by a stunning and complicated April sunset days after retrieving her mother’s ashes. Much of her work explores nature’s ability to provide respite from suffering and insight into healing.

And from another planet*

March 28, 2022

2021 Merit Award
by Robert Stern

the aliens took along one
of their youngsters
landing on earth in a remote
mountain area
stars sprayed across the sky
suddenly a train
came winding around a steep curve
whistle blowing again and again
the kid was astonished
look look can we make one
no! this is ancient stuff
but i want to drive one
Zona, what have we gotten
ourselves into here
Ogan, these people are primitives
and know nothing about nothing
oh, the tracks are gleaming
are the green and red lights alive?
I’ve never wished for anything more

*Copyright © 2021 by Robert Stern. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Poet’s bio:
“I have been writing poetry for over 50 years. In 1978 I had a book called Spirit Hand published by Konglomerati Press and illustrated by Kit Hirshberg. I write poetry every week under the inspiration that it is a ‘touch of the marvelous.'”

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.

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.

Driving Around*

February 24, 2022

2021 Merit Award
by Payton Ling, 12th grade

I am turning up One Direction
To drown out my cars loud noise
As my friends in the backseat argue
Over the next song, asking what’s the move?
My mind is focused on the road
I feel trapped in this tiny silver box
Going 50 in a 35
I am a map with no destination
We stop to climb trees and bridges
My friends bring me out to dance in the rain
In the middle of the road at midnight
They are beautiful
Back in the car we’re speeding down an empty road,
Midnight Memories blasting out of the speakers
We scream the lyrics till we can’t breathe.

*Copyright © 2021 by Payton Ling. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

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