The programming inspired by this year’s Whatcom READS title, Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, includes a poetry reading by Robert Lashley, one of this year’s judges for the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. The book is terrific, the reading, this evening, Thursday, January 14, 2021, at 7:00pm, is free, and sign-in information is here.

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.

Boynton winners!

May 13, 2020

We have winners!

This year’s distinguished judges for the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest, Roger Gilman and Kami Westhoff, have completed the difficult task of choosing winning poems from among the hundreds submitted.

Congratulations to the 2020 winning poets:
WALK AWARDS
Margaux Barber, Robert Beck, Chloe Nahani Braunstein,
Eugene S. Fairbanks, Suzanne Harris, Iluma Madrone, Kate Miller,
Betty Scott, Katen Van Harmelen, and Hayley Van Ness

MERIT AWARDS
Miakoda Baughman, Judy Bishop, Barbara Bloom, Randy Flowers,
Cristian H Gonzalez, John S. Green, Josh Hilderbrand, Steve Hood,
Stephen Jacob Huxford, Penelope Keep, Alexandra M. Lucas,
Fjola Martinez, Giorgiana Vignali, Richard Widerkehr,
and J. L. Wright

The Awards Ceremony, originally scheduled for May, has been postponed until Thursday, October 22, 2020, 7:00pm, at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. The community is invited (encouraged) to attend this wonderful event, at which the poets will read their winning poems. Please mark your calendar!

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!

Kids Need Books

February 18, 2020

This is a guest post by Joe Nolting.

After teaching middle school in Alaska for 30 years, I moved to Bellingham, Washington, with my wife, Annie (a writer), in 2012. I soon fell in love with my new home town and wanted to do something to promote literacy, so I founded Kids Need Books in 2016.

Kids Need Books (KNB) hands out new and gently used books to disadvantaged Whatcom County families. I started KNB as a way to curb the summer slide — the academic decline commonly experienced by low-income students during their time away from school and books. My volunteers and I soon discovered that local families were hungry for quality reading material and the program evolved into a year-round effort for people of all ages.

Distributions take place at the weekly satellite food banks at Alderwood Elementary School and Christ the King Church, and at other sites, including the Deming Foothills Food Bank, the Agape Project in Lynden (for migrant worker families), community block parties, school literacy festivals, and an afterschool Latino book club.

KNB is run entirely by unpaid staff. I act as the program’s coordinator — acquiring, organizing, storing (mostly in my garage), and handing out books. A core group of a dozen volunteers assists me with the regular book distributions.

Most of our books are donated by Village Books, the Assistance League of Bellingham, Friends of the Bellingham Public Library, local schools, book clubs, and member congregations of the Interfaith Coalition. Some books are rarely donated, including board books for infants and bilingual books (especially books in Spanish/English and Russian/English). KNB uses Project Neighborly (Whatcom Community Foundation) grant funds and cash donations from individuals to purchase these less-often-donated reading materials.

KNB believes that literacy can build a bridge from poverty to prosperity. One of the primary goals of the program is to grow the home libraries of low-income families. Research indicates that children who grow up in a home with a library of over a hundred books are likely to successfully complete high school and pursue a college education.

As the program grows, the need for quality books, financial donations, and volunteers grows. New and gently used books (including poetry books), may be dropped off at the Interfaith Coalition office (910 14th Street, Bellingham).

Tax deductible donations may be made through the DONATE button on the KNB website. If you are interested in helping out at a book distribution, please email Joe Nolting (jtnolting AT gmail.com).

Recently, KNB handed out its 100,000th book and a volunteer coordinator from the Alderwood neighborhood remarked, “Kids Need Books has fundamentally changed the reading culture of our neighborhood. We are grateful.”

– – – – –


Joe Nolting was born in Ohio and grew up in Vermont, where he met his wife, Annie. They drove to Alaska in a VW bus and were still there 35 years later. He taught middle school in Alaska for 30 years, mostly in the Matanuska Valley, and moved to Bellingham in 2012. Annie and Joe have one son, Ben, who is a Ph.D. mathematician working as a consultant. When he is not collecting, sorting, or handing out books, Joe likes to mountain bike, read (of course), and write poetry and essays.

Joe Nolting’s poems have twice been selected as winners in the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest.

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.

call for poems

March 1, 2019

Whatcom County: send us your poems!

The Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest opens today and remains open until 6:00pm, Sunday, March 31, 2019. All Whatcom County poets, regardless of age or poetry experience, are invited to submit ONE poem for consideration. Please read and following the guidelines on the 2019 Contest page.

Attention Whatcom teens!

January 22, 2019

Whatcom County teens in grades 6-12 are invited to enter their original poetry for inclusion in A Forest of Words 2019, a teen poetry anthology, which will be distributed to area schools and libraries. Accepted poets receive a copy of the book (and bragging rights!) if their work is accepted for publication. A panel of library staff and area teens select poems based on originality, creativity, and craft.

The deadline is Friday, March 15, 2019.

The guidelines are here.

(And of course, don’t forget to submit your poem to the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest, which is open for submissions during the month of March from poets of all ages .)

Meet the judges!

January 17, 2019

The 14th annual Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest will accept single-poem submissions from Whatcom County residents during the month of March 2019.

This year’s contest judges are Jessica Lohafer and Christopher Patton.

Jessica Lohafer is a Bellingham writer whose work has appeared in Whatcom Magazine, The Sweet Tree Review, Drunk in the Midnight Choir, Nailed Magazine, and Red Sky: Poetry on the Global Epidemic of Violence Against Women. Her collection of poem, What’s Left to Be Done, was published by Radical Lunchbox Press in 2009. She received a master’s degree in fine arts in poetry from Western Washington University in 2014. More at Jessica Lohafer. (Photo: Mallory Opel)

Christopher Patton is a Bellingham poet, translator, and cross-genre artist. His most recent book, Unlikeness is Us, published by Gaspereau in 2018, is a volume of translations from Old English. Video poems from his work-in-progress SCRO have been exhibited at Whatcom Museum and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. He teaches at Western Washington University and blogs at The Art of Compost.

There is no cost to enter the contest. Twenty-five winners are chosen and are invited to read their poems at a free public awards ceremony on Thursday, May 16, 2019, at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. Ten Walk Award winning poems are displayed in front of the Bellingham Public Library, and are displayed on WTA buses along with 15 Merit Award winning poems. Winning poems and placards are also presented on The Poetry Department and may be displayed at libraries and other locations around the county.

To submit entries during March, please review and follow the guidelines on the 2019 Contest page and find additional information on the FAQs page.

Poems may be submitted in a variety of ways:

  • Mail to Boynton Poetry Contest, PO Box 1192, Bellingham, WA 98227.
  • Email to BoyntonPoetryContest@hotmail.com (Word document preferred; please title document with the title of the poem).
  • Deliver to Mindport Exhibits, 210 W. Holly St., Bellingham, from noon to 6pm Wednesday-Friday, 10am to 5pm Saturday, or noon to 4pm Sunday.
  • Deliver to Film is Truth, inside Allied Arts Building, 1419 Cornwall Ave., Suite B, Bellingham, from noon to 10pm daily.
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