Still Life: Geneva Pond*

January 15, 2022


2021 Merit Award
by Kathleen Byrd

I make my self in the nature preserve
a home to taste names in silence —
Miner’s Lettuce, Stinging Nettle,
Bleeding Heart, and — hear deet, deet
of an unseen Chickadee and tap
tap, tap of a Sap Sucker’s red head.

Geneva is a rename, a claim
of place — of Salmon Berry, Heron, of Owl.
Geneva is a gilded city, a Juniper
Tree, a Euro-myth. The trees here hold secrets
close and still. Thuja Plicata, I roll a
taxonomy of botany on my tongue — Western
Red Cedar — not cedar — after all.

At the edge of the pond, I see —
not see, really — but glimpse
what was there and gone —
the black eyes of a frog on the surface.
I focus to capture a look, a name,
but it’s already gone, letting go
the trace of its being
circling the surface of Geneva pond.

*Copyright © 2021 by Kathleen Byrd. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

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.

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.

this week!

May 17, 2021

This Thursday, May 20, 2021, at 7:00pm Pacific, please join the winners of the 2021 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest as they share their winning poems. They will be joined by this year’s judges, Robert Lashley and Elizabeth Vignali, everyone’s favorite emcee, Kevin Murphy, and other honored guests. Celebrate with the poets on Zoom!

a mother poem

May 9, 2021

Elizabeth Vignali ~ My Mother's Afterlife

In honor of Mother’s Day, we repost “My Mother’s Afterlife” by Elizabeth Vignali. The poem was selected as a 2012 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest Merit Award winner and Vignali is currently serving as a judge for the 2021 contest. You can see her on Zoom at the Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 20, 2021.

My Mother’s Afterlife
By Elizabeth Vignali

She prepares for our arrival —
brushes pine needles off the table,
unfurls the checkered cloth
with a snap
of her wrist.
Mourning doves hush
as she stacks clacking
kindling next to the firepit
dead with ashes.
When she ceases
they cry to each other
across the shrouding mist.
She sets out canvas
camping chairs and rests
in the one nearest the pond.
She has years to wait.

A nymph lumbers from under
the verdant surface
onto a cow lily and dances
into its dragonfly shape.
New wings unfurled, it sees her
with many eyes.
It clings to the old body, its pale
new one jewelling blue-green.

*Copyright 2012 by Elizabeth Vignali. Placard design by Egress Studio.

Merits*

April 25, 2021


2020 Merit Award
By J. L. Wright

Each day as a teacher, I touch a life.
I hope that it may be softly,
carefully, compassionately;
so, the fruit is not bruised.

The pear in my lunch box has brown spots
but it is still worth eating.

Filled with the warm stink of seventh grade boys,
the classroom emits possibility.

Behind clumsy arms and gangly legs,
each plot how he will
take over the world.

*Copyright 2020 by J. L. Wright. Broadside illustrated by Christian Smith.

– – – – –
NOTE: This is the last Sunday posting of 2020 contest winners. Find links to winning poems from all contest years on the Winners page, and stay tuned to hear about 2021 winners.


2020 Merit Award
By Richard Widerkehr

written the week of the Douglas High School shootings; a bump stock lets a shooter fire dozens of rounds in seconds

Under this streetlight, a possum
lopes by brick houses, its gray-white muzzle
and needle nose low to the street.

Take action, said our rabbi.

Standing by my car,
I wonder who needs a bump stock
for self-defense.

Not right or wrong, needing no carry permit,
the possum skitters into an alley.

The empty street, the streetlight.

An alertness sends out tendrils,
almost part of the dark.

*Copyright 2020 by Richard Widerkehr. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

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