meet the judges: 2021

January 4, 2021

While the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest won’t open for submissions until March 2021 and the guidelines have not yet been updated, the judges have been selected and we are pleased to introduce them here.

A 2016 Jack Straw Fellow, Artist Trust Fellow, and nominee for a Stranger Genius Award, Robert Lashley has had work published in The Seattle Review of Books, NAILED, Poetry Northwest, McSweeney’s, and The Cascadia Review. His poetry was also featured in such anthologies as Many Trails to The Summit, Foot Bridge Above The Falls, Get Lit, Make It True, and It Was Written. His previous books include THE HOMEBOY SONGS (Small Doggies Press, 2014), and UP SOUTH (Small Doggies Press, 2017). His next book, THE GREEN RIVER VALLEY, will be published by Blue Cactus Press in 2021.
 
 
Elizabeth Vignali is the author of three chapbooks, the most recent of which is Endangered [Animal] (Floating Bridge Press 2019), and the poetry collection House of the Silverfish (Unsolicited Press 2021). Her work has appeared in Willow Springs, Cincinnati Review, Mid-American Review, Tinderbox, The Literary Review, and others. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she works as an optician, produces the Bellingham Kitchen Session reading series, and serves as poetry editor of Sweet Tree Review.

The 2021 Contest guidelines will be posted on the 2021 Contest page as soon as they are available. Meanwhile, please enjoy the Sunday postings of the 2020 winning poems…and, if you happen to live in Whatcom County, Washington, start planning your submission.

mark your calendar!

October 6, 2020

The winners of the 2020 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest were selected and notified back in April. When, by necessity, the awards ceremony was rescheduled from May to October, it seemed like surely an in-person celebration would be possible. Alas.

But there will be a celebration, online, on Thursday, October 22, 2020, at 7:00pm. We will hear from this year’s judges, Roger Gilman and Kami Westhoff, and from the poets who have waited so patiently to share their words.

Request a Zoom link and password for this year’s virtual Awards Ceremony by emailing BoyntonPoetryContest@hotmail.com.

Please mark your calendar and stay tuned!

six days and counting

March 26, 2020

If it feels like everything around you has been cancelled, think again: the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest is still happening and still wants your poems!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020, is the last day to submit, and because the drop-off venues are closed, submissions must come by mail or, preferably, email.

The awards ceremony, originally scheduled for May 14, will be rescheduled for a fall date to be announced. But the judges will read submissions, make their selections, and notify the winners by the end of April.

This is an all-ages, Whatcom County, Washington, contest, and a great thing to do if you happen to be staying at home quite a lot. Six days and counting. One poem per person. Read the guidelines and submit!

Send us your poems!

March 2, 2020

It’s March, so that means it’s time for Whatcom County poets of all ages and experience to submit their poems to the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. See (and follow!) the guidelines on the 2020 Contest page. One poem per poet, so send your best!

meet the judges: 2020

January 4, 2020

Each year, the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest selects two distinguished poets to serve as judges. With hundreds of poems to read by poets of all ages and skill levels, it’s a challenging job. The judges each read every poem and then discuss their choices before coming up with the year’s contest winners.

The contest committee is very pleased to introduce this year’s judges: Roger Gilman and Kami Westhoff.

Roger Gilman is poetry editor for Adventures Northwest, winner of a National Endowment of the Humanities Fellowship, and of several Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest prizes. He teaches classes at the Hugo House Literary Center in Seattle. His latest poems are in Poetry Northwest. He is former Dean of Fairhaven College and Professor of the Arts and Humanities at Western Washington University.

Kami Westhoff is the author of Sleepwalker, which won Minerva Rising’s Dare to Be Contest, and Your Body a Bullet, co-written with Elizabeth Vignali. Her poetry and prose have appeared in journals including Booth, Carve, Hippocampus, Meridian, Passages North, The Pinch, Phoebe, Redivider, Waxwing, and West Branch. She teaches creative writing at Western Washington University where she serves as faculty adviser for Jeopardy Magazine.

The guidelines are now posted on the 2020 Contest page. Submissions don’t open until March 1, 2020, but it’s never too early to study the guidelines and start drafting your poem.

If your poetry passion is the current state of our environment, you might want to consider submitting your work for The Treehouse Climate Action Poem Prize. Offered by the Academy of American Poets with generous support from Treehouse Investments, the prize will honor three poets who submit “exceptional poems that help make real for readers the gravity of the vulnerable state of our environment at present.”

Find out more about the Treehouse Climate Action Poem Prize and the complete guidelines.

In a related note… if you are engaged with the topic, the literary journal apt is accepting submissions that address climate change for issue 10 through August 31, 2019. Note that apt publishes long-form work, but for this issue will consider “shorter” work, defined as 1,000 words/100 lines/7 pages minimum for poetry. See the apt submission guidelines here.

call for bouncers

July 2, 2019

poetrynight

Have you submitted a poem to the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest only to be disappointed by rejection? Well, if so, here’s your chance to show your stuff. The contest committee is teaming up with poetrynight to present Boynton Bouncers.

Boynton Bouncers will be held at the Bellingham Alternative Library on Monday, August 12, 2019, at 7:00pm.

  • Rejected-by-Boynton poems from any contest year, 2006-2019, are eligible.
  • Poets must read their own poems; if their work has been turned away in multiple years, they may read more than one poem.
  • Poets can just show up and read, or, to assure a spot in the lineup, send an email with your name, phone, and poem title(s) to boyntonpoetrycontest@hotmail.com.
  • The event is free and the public is invited.

If this is successful, it could become an annual event.

plaques in place

July 1, 2019

The Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest Walk Award plaques are now installed along the Poetry Walk in front of the Bellingham Public Library, on Central Avenue, downtown. They will remain there until the 2020 contest winners take their place.

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.

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.

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