Head in the Game*

March 19, 2023

2022 Merit Award
By Kyle Heaton

A cool breeze blows across the rocky concrete.
My heart races,
sweat beading down in my eyes.
The sun’s rays like lasers on my skin.
My foot jab steps,
faking out the lifeless defender in front of me.
I dribble once, twice, three times,
downhill towards the Coca-Cola hoop.
I cross over between my legs,
take a step back,
release the ball from my hands.
Swish, my team wins.
I celebrate with my dog,
the only person watching.
I chase down the ball and play again.
Not stopping until dinner,
or the hoop is darkened by night.
What else is better?

*Copyright © 2022 by Kyle Heaton. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Poet’s bio:
Kyle Heaton attends Squalicum High School.

NOTE: a chapbook of the 2022 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest winning poems, including this one, is available at Village Books in Bellingham. All sales profits benefit the annual contest.


March 5, 2023

2022 Merit Award
By Rusty Bower

The sun emanates confounding energy
Unconditional radiation for the duration of its time

It bears perpetual fusion and electromagnetic rupture
yet remains the singular source of luminance and life

while the earth remains among its star it is nurtured
Bonded by immense gravity

Through millennia or a moment
Evolution and complexity arise

I suppose mother
You are like the sun

*Copyright © 2022 by Rusty Bower. Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

Poet’s bio: Rusty Bower is 17 years old and in the eleventh grade at Sehome High School in Bellingham. This is Rusty’s first poem, completed for a project in creative writing class for Mother’s Day. “The poem is about how much my mom does for me despite her struggles.”

NOTE: a chapbook of the 2022 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest winning poems, including this one, is available at Village Books in Bellingham. All sales profits benefit the annual contest.


February 26, 2023

2022 Merit Award
By Kathryn Aspinall

Tonight everything hurts.
I am being split open like
   a soft pear sliced in the palm of your hand,
again and again until I am but
   long pieces laying on a ceramic dish
Which you hold out to me, offering

   And I eat

even though that is my flesh, this is my heart,
over here, my eyes
(you missed them because they were closed)
I missed myself because I am closed.

We are walking the length of the lake in Vermont
We are putting away the sheep in the evening and
returning to the woods.
We are the owls hooting once,
Tonight everything hurts and I sat down
to write a list of all of the things that I loved.
The owls are on it, the knife is on it,
the cutting board is on it
You are on it in little pieces, sliced like soft pears
down the middle.

*Copyright © 2022 by Kathryn Aspinall. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Poet’s bio: Kathryn Aspinall is a senior at Sehome High School and has recently moved from Orcas Island. She is a full time student-athlete and has recently begun writing daily poetry. Kathryn will be pursuing a biology and art major at Willamette University in the fall. “Pears” was written late one night in January after Kathryn made a list of things that she loved. The poem was inspired by various owls, relationships, bowls of fruit, and walks in the woods.


February 5, 2023

2022 Walk Award
By Hayley Van Ness

Crazy cute creative creatures
Are awesome active acrobats
Tiny tame tigers
Sneaky sly silly stretchers

*Copyright © 2022 by Hayley Van Ness. Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

Poet’s bio:
Hayley Van Ness is 8 years old and likes cats. She has two of them!

NOTE: a chapbook of the 2022 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest winning poems, including this one, is available at Village Books in Bellingham. All sales profits benefit the annual contest.


January 29, 2023

2022 Walk Award
By Alina Tsakhniv

Snow falls outside
A blue house stands,
the streetlamp shining
Inside in a dark room
in front of a large window
I stand with my dad
He is holding an accordion
his father passed down to him,
Playing a soft song
Six generations deep
As my younger sister sleeps
I softy sing the song my grandmother taught me,
“Коли Дух Господній наповняє мене”
The snow falls faster
as I look out the window,
wondering about war.

*Copyright © 2022 by Alina Tsakhniv. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

Poet’s note:
The line in Ukrainian translates as When the Spirit of the Lord fills me.

2022 Walk Award
By Marley Lotts
Based on “Where I am From” by George Ella Lyon

I am from the forget-me-nots that bloom in our yard
in colors of pink, blue, and purple
I am from our curly willow tree
(Not yet large enough for me to climb)
that matches my hair

I am from soaking in hot springs, the Shinkansen,
safaris, the pyramids, and places beyond
I am from taco salad and toasted O’s
from laughter, jokes and helping hands
I am from clearing storm drains with sticks

I am from loyal Zoe, with long whiskers and short ears
from Sadie, black and purring
and playful Mocha, wagging a fuzzy, curly tail

I am from books, surrounded by piles,
I am from owls, history, and fantasy
breathing in words, exhaling thoughts
I am from music, from fingers on metal strings,
and the peaceful, soothing melody

I am from swimming pools and soccer fields
from a broken tibia caused by a frog’s school day
and palm calluses from swinging on a little red trapeze

*Copyright © 2022 by Marley Lotts. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Poet’s bio:
Marley Lotts is a 6th grader who homeschools with the Bellingham Family Partnership Program (BFPP). Marley is an avid reader who devours books of all genres, especially historical fiction. When he is not reading, he enjoys playing soccer with the Whatcom FC Rangers or practicing his viola. “I Am from Taco Salad and Toasted O’s” was inspired by George Ella Lyon’s “Where I Am From.” It originally was started in his writing class. This is Marley’s first published piece of writing.


December 18, 2022

2022 Walk Award
By Chloe Braunstein

deep down in your roots, there
is a voice, a song, deep down
in your roots, there is a start,
a beginning.

has a voice,
find yours.

*Copyright © 2022 by Chloe Braunstein. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

Poet’s bio:
Chloe Braunstein loves to write poetry, create art, dance, and sing. She is 9 years old, attends Bellingham Family Partnership Program, and has a dog named Izzy. “I wrote this poem when my mom was making Peace Postcards. I saw the image of flowers and people on the back of a postcard — and this poem came to me. I want the reader to know how to find their voice, and see how other people find theirs.”

Spring in Bellingham*

December 11, 2022

2022 Walk Award
By Margaux Barber

A soft wind blows as I
trudge through the field
of Sunnyland Elementary
School. The first
flowers bloom like a
dragon taking flight,
their colors pushing through
the gray. I can feel the
breeze on my cheek like
a million butterflies taking flight.
This is spring in Bellingham.

*Copyright 2022 by Margaux Barber. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Poet’s bio:
Margaux is in 3rd grade at Sunnyland Elementary. She’s obsessed with artichokes.

representing the West

October 2, 2022

We are somewhat tardy in congratulating Diane Sun of Bellevue, Washington, who was selected as the 2022 National Student Poet for the West Region. Selected annually for a year of service as national poetry ambassadors, the juried position is considered “the country’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work.”

On September 27, 2022, Jill Biden hosted the five National Student Poets for a reading of their work at the White House along with Poet Laureate Ada Limón.

The National Student Poets were selected from students in grades 10-11 who submitted more than 22,000 poems in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and received top honors in poetry. From this pool of National Medal recipients, 40 semi-finalists were identified as showing exceptional promise as young poets in their regions, based on their originality, technical skills, and personal voice, and were invited to submit additional poetry and performance videos to distinguished jurors for the final selection of the five National Student Poets.

Sun, who attends Interlake High School, is a cohort of the 2022/23 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Program.

Meet the Class of 2022 National Student Poets and learn more about Diane Sun and the National Student Poets program.


April 5, 2022

2021 Merit Award
by Genevieve Whelan, 6th grade

I look up at my brother who is tall.
I love him in the morning, noon, and night.
He sometimes answers the phone when I call.
He loves his little sis; he will not fight.
My heart leaps because of my big brother.
All I want is my brother to come home.
My big brother loves me and my mother.
I will wait outside for him with my comb.
I wipe my tears when I think of my love.
I loved playing soccer with him and friends.
He opens his arms like wings of a dove.
If he would just come home, it just depends.
Please, Jacob, come home because I love you.
Please come home because I am feeling blue.

*Copyright © 2021 by Genevieve Whelan. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

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