Lake Louise Spring*

November 29, 2020


2020 Merit Award
By Judy Bishop

Cold rivulets run down over rocks,
through woods, finally flow into the lake.
Hillside alders beaten by winter’s wrath,
limbs bent, broken into submission.
The well-worn path, wet and muddy,
crisscrossed by rabbits and squirrels.
Robins — hearty spring harbingers — hop, stop,
cock their heads. Red-winged Blackbirds cling
to cattails, cry, divert attention from nests.
Nervous geese, eager to mate, squawk
and take flight at slightest sounds.

Pink Salmonberry blossoms beckon Rufous
Hummingbirds. Western Skunk Cabbage cups
curled leaves in prayer.

Sunshine and the stay-at-home order welcome
trail walkers. We dance our six foot distance,
warmly greeting neighbors never met before.

The south wind forms honey-comb patterns on
the lake. Below the surface, lilies in their dark
unseen secret world, not unlike the virus, begin
their epic journey toward the light. So do we.

*Copyright 2020 by Judy Bishop. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

In the Forest*

November 15, 2020


2020 Merit Award
By Miakoda Baughman, Grade 3

When the Mountain glows
And the River shines
And the trees speak to me
In the forest
There is magic
Everywhere
In the forest
With me

I think the moon is watching
Over me
And the sun shines
With me

In the forest
With me
I think the spirit
Is watching
Over me

*Copyright 2020 by Miakoda Baughman. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Boynton winners!

May 13, 2020

We have winners!

This year’s distinguished judges for the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest, Roger Gilman and Kami Westhoff, have completed the difficult task of choosing winning poems from among the hundreds submitted.

Congratulations to the 2020 winning poets:
WALK AWARDS
Margaux Barber, Robert Beck, Chloe Nahani Braunstein,
Eugene S. Fairbanks, Suzanne Harris, Iluma Madrone, Kate Miller,
Betty Scott, Katen Van Harmelen, and Hayley Van Ness

MERIT AWARDS
Miakoda Baughman, Judy Bishop, Barbara Bloom, Randy Flowers,
Cristian H Gonzalez, John S. Green, Josh Hilderbrand, Steve Hood,
Stephen Jacob Huxford, Penelope Keep, Alexandra M. Lucas,
Fjola Martinez, Giorgiana Vignali, Richard Widerkehr,
and J. L. Wright

The Awards Ceremony, originally scheduled for May, has been postponed until Thursday, October 22, 2020, 7:00pm, at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. The community is invited (encouraged) to attend this wonderful event, at which the poets will read their winning poems. Please mark your calendar!

Kids Need Books

February 18, 2020

This is a guest post by Joe Nolting.

After teaching middle school in Alaska for 30 years, I moved to Bellingham, Washington, with my wife, Annie (a writer), in 2012. I soon fell in love with my new home town and wanted to do something to promote literacy, so I founded Kids Need Books in 2016.

Kids Need Books (KNB) hands out new and gently used books to disadvantaged Whatcom County families. I started KNB as a way to curb the summer slide — the academic decline commonly experienced by low-income students during their time away from school and books. My volunteers and I soon discovered that local families were hungry for quality reading material and the program evolved into a year-round effort for people of all ages.

Distributions take place at the weekly satellite food banks at Alderwood Elementary School and Christ the King Church, and at other sites, including the Deming Foothills Food Bank, the Agape Project in Lynden (for migrant worker families), community block parties, school literacy festivals, and an afterschool Latino book club.

KNB is run entirely by unpaid staff. I act as the program’s coordinator — acquiring, organizing, storing (mostly in my garage), and handing out books. A core group of a dozen volunteers assists me with the regular book distributions.

Most of our books are donated by Village Books, the Assistance League of Bellingham, Friends of the Bellingham Public Library, local schools, book clubs, and member congregations of the Interfaith Coalition. Some books are rarely donated, including board books for infants and bilingual books (especially books in Spanish/English and Russian/English). KNB uses Project Neighborly (Whatcom Community Foundation) grant funds and cash donations from individuals to purchase these less-often-donated reading materials.

KNB believes that literacy can build a bridge from poverty to prosperity. One of the primary goals of the program is to grow the home libraries of low-income families. Research indicates that children who grow up in a home with a library of over a hundred books are likely to successfully complete high school and pursue a college education.

As the program grows, the need for quality books, financial donations, and volunteers grows. New and gently used books (including poetry books), may be dropped off at the Interfaith Coalition office (910 14th Street, Bellingham).

Tax deductible donations may be made through the DONATE button on the KNB website. If you are interested in helping out at a book distribution, please email Joe Nolting (jtnolting AT gmail.com).

Recently, KNB handed out its 100,000th book and a volunteer coordinator from the Alderwood neighborhood remarked, “Kids Need Books has fundamentally changed the reading culture of our neighborhood. We are grateful.”

– – – – –


Joe Nolting was born in Ohio and grew up in Vermont, where he met his wife, Annie. They drove to Alaska in a VW bus and were still there 35 years later. He taught middle school in Alaska for 30 years, mostly in the Matanuska Valley, and moved to Bellingham in 2012. Annie and Joe have one son, Ben, who is a Ph.D. mathematician working as a consultant. When he is not collecting, sorting, or handing out books, Joe likes to mountain bike, read (of course), and write poetry and essays.

Joe Nolting’s poems have twice been selected as winners in the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest.


2019 Merit Award
By Cadillac Joe Wright

brimstones
     are butterflies that
carry ur hippy vibe &
     we can smell the
          monsoons amp up
     blue diamond &
     the old Spanish trails
that surround you —
     far overhead is that
     chevy in the sky…
ur red blazer burns thru zion
     these days we boil
     longhorn skulls in
          peppermill lave &
summer craves the cold storms
     of sugarhouse java —
the universe is filling up
w/ raspberry
chambord n’ other miracles…
comets circle —
     flash floods &
          hello river!!!

. . . . .
*Copyright 2019 by Cadillac Joe Wright. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Jane*

October 13, 2019


2019 Merit Award
By Elliot Stockman, Grade 6

There once was a young girl named Jane,
Who lived in England, and took lots of trains,
She walked on the track,
And with a loud “Thwack!”
She ended up flying to Spain.

In Spain, they all rode on bikes, of course,
But what surprised her was they all spoke in Norse
She wanted a pie,
But she encountered a sigh,
And she ended up eating a horse.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2019 by Elliot Stockman. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

Thirteen*

September 29, 2019


2019 Merit Award
By Susan Cohen Raphael

At thirteen
I was put in jail
for running away from home

I remember well
that first night in one small room
with four closed walls
a bare bed
a sink
a mirror
one small high barred window
a door with barred minuscule opening

I remember the sounds of voices
and the sound of free movement in the hall
I remember the lights of the city
the stars in the sky
I remember crying

It was Christmas night
and I was frightened
and I was alone

. . . . .
*Copyright 2019 by Susan Cohen Raphael. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

After St. Lucy’s Day, 2018*

September 8, 2019


2019 Merit Award
By Tom Moore

With the final whisper of the night’s
last bell, the church goers gather
with their prayers. Outside

it is cold. Beyond cold, really.
The two gay men with their son
have come to be a part of something

larger than themselves
though they are not
sure what. For most

people here the assumptions made
about an ancient fertility god
don’t translate well into

code. Yet the kids seem to get a kick
out of things. The tree, tastefully done
sketches of Jesus, the programs for those who

don’t usually attend
do not offend. Hiding
out there in the dark is
of course, the thirst.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2019 by Tom Moore. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

I bought a pair of earrings*

September 1, 2019


2019 Merit Award
By Quinn Moore, Grade 4

I bought a pair of earrings
They were sparkly and blue
I loved them and adored them
They were shiny and new

Then you gave me a small rock
Which was very dirty too
But I loved it even more so
Because it came from you

. . . . .
*Copyright 2019 by Quinn Moore. Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

Water by Salmon*

August 18, 2019


2019 Merit Award
By Phelps McIlvaine
After Emily Dickinson’s “WATER IS TAUGHT BY THIRST”

As life is taught by death,
and the Sun by Space,
So, Clouds are taught by Land
and Rains by Place.

As Mountains are taught by Plains,
and Rivers by Lakes,
So, Trees are taught by Soils,
And Elements by their Weight.

As Deserts are taught by Shores,
and Ocean Waves by Wind,
So, Depth is taught by height,
and Tides by Celestial Spin.

As Sound is taught by Silence,
and Insight by Reason,
So, humans are taught by Water
and Water, by Salmon.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2019 by Phelps McIlvaine. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

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