the gift of poetry

May 21, 2019

The Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest has numerous reasons to be grateful to George F. Drake. Here are two:

  • In 1976, as a member of the Bellingham City Council, George organized a ceremony to honor those who served in elective office. A highlight of the event, held at Western Washington University, was the presence of Sue C. Boynton, then 95. George escorted her to the podium where she read a poem of her own followed by a message sent for the occasion by President Gerald Ford. In 2005, George approached Sue Boynton’s daughter, Ethel Boynton Crook, to propose naming a community poetry contest to honor Sue C. Boynton. She agreed, and the first Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest and Poetry Walk was held in 2006 with the enthusiastic support of the extended Boynton family.
  • A stalwart champion of the Contest through the intervening years, George Drake took the podium at the May 16, 2019, awards ceremony, where he presented the above photo of himself with Sue C. Boynton taken by Tore Ofteness at that 1976 event. He then presented the contest committee with an exceedingly generous surprise: a check for $10,000 to express his belief in the importance of this community poetry contest and to assure its continuation in the years to come.

Beyond the evening’s raucous and prolonged applause, the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest and all the past, present, and future poets of Whatcom County, and their fans, owe George Drake a huge THANK YOU.

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Each of the 25 winning poems in the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest is illustrated with flair and care by one of four artists. The resulting placards are displayed in Whatcom Transportation Authority buses for a full year and also posted on this site (at, alas, a substantially reduced size). The Contest is very fortunate to have artists who continue to do this fine work year after year. We are pleased to introduce them again here for 2019, in their own words:

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. It is not surprising that I focus on nature. I have always been surrounded by animals. Two weeks before I was born, my parents’ borzoi, Domino, birthed a litter. They were so busy raising me, they never really got around to selling the puppies as intended. Then with my brother coming along, we all moved out to the country. They bought a house (it came with a cow!) and quickly filled the land with horses, a pony, chickens, turkeys, and other animals. Even without the added domestic animals, I was playing with frogs and raising the tadpoles from our pond. And I was drawing and writing and reading. And I am still drawing, writing, and reading. I draw comics, which you can get on Storeenvy, and paint nature, which you can get on mugs and pillows from Society 6. And I am reading/researching Maria Sibylla Merian and the late 1600s in preparation for a graphic novel biography. You can follow my research on Patreon. I have a sci-fi comic on tumblr and an autobio comic on tumblr. My general social media (Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram) is angelabcomics, and my personal website is angelaboyle.flyingdodostudio.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 6 years. You can buy my prints, including the ones inspired by the poems in this contest, on Society6, or my handmade goods at Scrappy Carp Living on Etsy.

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. Seilkies, 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 a 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. Thank you for your interest in my work. I hope that the world I have created sparks your own imagination and provokes many hours of daydream in the years to come.

Kimberly Wulfestieg
is a paper cutting, rainbow loving, poetry flowing mother and teacher. Originally from Northern California, she made her way to Bellingham seven years ago and never passes a mountain, lake, flower, or tree, without a deep breath and an appreciation for its beauty. A self-taught artist, she 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.

awards ceremony

May 9, 2019

Bellingham Cruise TerminalYou’re invited to an appreciation of poets and poetry as the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest celebrates the winners of the 2019 contest. The winning poets will read their poems, the beautiful poem placards will be on view, and all of this year’s submissions will be displayed. Plus, a chapbook of the winning poems will be available for purchase and there will be refreshments! It’s all free, and a truly heart-warming community event: Thursday, May 16, 2019, 7:00pm, at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Avenue in Fairhaven.

2019 Boynton winners

May 2, 2019

We have winners!

The Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest committee has announced the winners of this year’s contest.

Winners will read their poems at a free public awards ceremony, 7:00pm, Thursday, May 16, 2019, at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Avenue, in Fairhaven. Poet Kevin Murphy will host the ceremony.

Now in its 14th year, the annual contest is open to Whatcom County residents of all ages and poetry experience. This year’s winners were chosen by judges Jessica Lohafer and Christopher Patton, both Bellingham-based poets.

Ten Walk Award winners will have their poems displayed for a year on plaques outside the downtown Bellingham Public Library. Those poems, and the 14 Merit Award winners, also will be displayed on artist-designed placards on WTA buses. (The winning poems and placards will be posted weekly on this site following the awards ceremony.)

Winners include Jaelyn Pitts, a Bellingham 3-year-old, the youngest in the contest’s history; and award-winning poet Luci Shaw of Bellingham, who, at age 90, is likely the contest’s oldest winner ever.

Youths who won the Walk Award are Maddie Patterson, 5th grade, Silver Beach Elementary; Gavin James Karney, 6th grade, Whatcom Middle; Bella Mendoza, 12th grade, Squalicum High; Margaux Barber, kindergarten, Sunnyland Elementary; and Jaelyn Pitts.

Adults who won the Walk Award are Barbara Bloom of Bellingham, Tor of Bellingham, Sandra F. Lucke of Lynden, Stephany Vogel of Bellingham, and Luci Shaw.

Youths won won the Merit Award are Quinn Moore, 4th grade, Natural Learning Center; Porter Chesbrough, 6th grade, Whatcom Middle; Gaia Garza, 6th grade, Whatcom Middle; Eliot Stockman, 6th grade, Whatcom Middle; Lucas Cunningham, 12th grade, Sehome High; Anishka Duggal, 11th grade, Sehome High; Karanjot Mann, 12th grade, Squalicum High; and Adam McCluskey, 11th grade, Squalicum High.

Six adults won a Merit Award: Sally Hewitt of Glacier, Phelps McIlvaine of Bellingham, Carlos Martinez of Ferndale, Tom Moore of Bellingham, Susan Cohen Raphael of Bellingham, and Cadillac Joe Wright of Bellingham.

A chapbook of the winning poems will be available for purchase at the awards ceremony.

Congratulations to the winners and heartfelt thanks to the hundreds of poets who submitted their work to this year’s contest.

Poetry is happening at Highline College in Des Moines, Washington. Second-year biology student Alyssa Konopaski was one of 53 students who submitted poems to the 2019 Student Poetry Contest. For her trouble, she walked away with top honors, a cash prize, a broadside made from her poem, and a chance to read her poem at a reception and reading on April 9. There were ten winning poems selected from 106 submissions. Read Alyssa’s poem, “Expect Sadness like Rain,” and see the schedule of National Poetry Month events happening at Highline, including a free poetry reading and writing workshop with Mark Doty and Ilya Kaminsky on April 17.

contest closed

March 31, 2019

Submissions to the 2019 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest are now closed. If you submitted a poem, thank you! Winners will be notified by phone or e-mail by April 30, 2019.

Whether you submitted a poem or not, you are invited to the awards ceremony on Thursday, May 16, 2019, 7:00pm, at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal.

send poems!

March 17, 2019

Attention, Whatcom County poets: you have just two more weeks to submit your poem to the 2019 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. The submission deadline is 6:00pm, Sunday, March 31, 2019. Submissions can be mailed, hand-delivered, or emailed, but they must arrive by the deadline.

See the complete guidelines on the 2019 Contest page and submit your very best poem. If it’s a winner, it could find a home in front of the Bellingham Public Library and/or inside a Whatcom Transportation Authority bus for a full year!

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