The judges for the 2017 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest are Jacob Hartsoch and Laura Laffrado. As always, after submissions are closed (March 31) the judges will both read every single poem that is submitted (without knowing the name of the poet) and will then work together to select the Walk and Merit winners.

Jacob HartsochJacob Hartsoch grew up in a small Montana town and was inspired by Richard Hugo’s poetry about local places he knew and loved. His work has been selected three times in the annual Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest and he is the recipient of the Gonzaga University Costello Award in poetry. He lives in Bellingham with his wife and two young boys and is currently excited about wind, water, and reducing his family’s carbon footprint. Photo by Sheila Carson.

Laura LaffradoLaura Laffrado’s current work is focused on returning forgotten Pacific Northwest writer Ella Rhoads Higginson to literary prominence. Her most recent book is Selected Writings of Ella Higginson: Inventing Pacific Northwest Literature (2015). Laffrado is also author of Uncommon Women: Gender and Representation in Nineteenth-Century US Women’s Writing (2009, 2015) and other books and essays. She is Professor of English at Western Washington University.

This year’s guidelines are posted on the 2017 Contest page.

Guidelines posted!

January 26, 2017


Whatcom County (Washington) poets, the guidelines for the 2017 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest are now posted on the 2017 Contest page.

All aboard, King County

September 6, 2016

Poetry on BusesIf you are a King County, Washington, resident, you are encouraged to submit a poem for the next round of Poetry on Buses. 365 poems will be selected for online publication and some of those will be featured in King County Metro and Sound Transit buses, trains and stations in 2017.

The deadline is Friday, September 30, 2016, 11:59pm PDT. The theme is “Your Body of Water” and the length is a maximum of 50 words, not including the title. See the complete guidelines on the Poetry on Buses website.

WDRC Peaceful Poetry

What are your plans for the summer? If you’re in grades K-12 and you’re a Whatcom County resident, consider writing and submitting a poem for the 2016 Peaceful Poetry Youth Contest, hosted by the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center (WDRC). Poems on peaceful themes can be submitted between now and September 30, 2016, either online or by mail.

And there’s more!

WDRC invites K-12 students and their families to drop in to reflect, imagine and create at a FREE Peaceful Poetry Writer’s Workshop:

These free workshops allow students to explore poetry styles and engage their creativity through interactive exercises. The’ll leave having created a poem for the Peaceful Poetry Youth Contest.


March 30, 2016

countdownOkay, Whatcom County poets, you have today (March 30), and you have tomorrow (March 31) until 6:00pm to submit your poems to the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. It’s too late to mail your poem, but you can deliver it to Mindport Exhibits, 210 W. Holly Street, Bellingham (open both days Noon to 6pm) OR email it to Of course, read the guidelines carefully — line count and character count matter here, and poems that don’t meet the guidelines will be disqualified. This year’s judges are Luther Allen and Luci Shaw and we have it on good authority that they want to read YOUR poem!

P.S. Whether you submit a poem or not, be sure to mark your calendar for Thursday, May 12, 2016, and join the judges, the award winners, the contest committee and poetry fans from all over at the 2016 Boynton Awards Ceremony, 7:00pm at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal.

deadline extended!

March 16, 2016

Cherry blossomsAttention Whatcom County haiku poets: the deadline for submitting cherry-blossom-themed haiku to The Ferndale Cherry Blossom Festival has been extended one week. The new submission deadline is Monday, March 21, 2016.

Each poet may submit two unpublished haiku poems. There are Youth and Adult categories and the winning haiku will be selected by Michael Dylan Welch. For guidelines, see Call To All Whatcom County Poets and find the submission form on The Ferndale Cherry Blossom Festival page.

For inspiration, see “Some Suggestions for Writing Haiku” on the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational page.

meet the judges

March 5, 2016

This year’s judges for the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest are Luther Allen and Luci Shaw. As always, after submissions are closed (March 31) the judges will both read every single poem that is submitted (without knowing the name of the poet) and then work together to select the Walk and Merit winners.

Luther Allen 2015sLuther Allen writes poems and designs buildings from Sumas Mountain. He writes poetry to make sense of his place in the world, a sort of spiritual practice. He facilitates SpeakEasy, a community poetry reading series in Bellingham, and is co-editor of Noisy Water, a poetry anthology featuring 101 Whatcom County poets. His collection of poems, The View from Lummi Island, can be found at

Luci ShawLuci Shaw, a poet and essayist, is Writer in Residence at Regent College, Vancouver. She has authored over 35 books. Widely anthologized, her writing has appeared in Image, Weavings, Books & Culture, The Christian Century, Relief, Rock & Sling, Ruminate, Radix, Crux, The Southern Review, Stonework, Mars Hill, Nimble Spirit, Poetry East and others. She is a 2013 recipient of the Denise Levertov Award. Her most recent book of poetry is Scape. Coming in April, 2016, Sea Glass: New & Selected Poems (WordFarm) and The Thumbprint in the Clay (essays, IVP). For further information visit

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