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 (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.


September 16, 2018

2018 Merit Award
By Stephen Palmer

The car I live in
gray as my futureless life
rain on the windshield.

Green dumpster cardboard
shelters me between downpours
I can’t stop the wind.

Constant daily wait
charging phone on bus stop time
wheelchair in the rain.

Sun is my alarm
campsite my sanctuary
downpour dictates pain.

Lines for soup kitchen
queuing up at the mission
showers at the Y.

Voices surround me
torrent within me surges
melancholy rage.

. . . . .
I was inspired to write “Homeless” because it’s something I know about and I wanted to give voice to those who cannot speak for themselves. Having nowhere to go in foul weather, as in Bellingham, is the most miserable existence a person can have when they’re homeless.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2018 by Stephen Palmer. Broadside illustrated by Kim Wulfestieg.

The Perfect Cover*

September 9, 2018

2018 Walk Award
By Felicia Clemmons

Cover your head,
so no one touches your hair.

Cover your body,
don’t tempt anyone.

Cover your skin,
so they don’t know you’re not white.
Wouldn’t want another tragic accident.

Cover your tears,
with a smile.

Cover your sadness,
with no eye contact.
Because then, they’d see it.

Cover yourself completely.
Become invisible.
Clothe yourself in darkness.
Become smaller, less intimidating.
There, now you’re perfect.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2018 by Felicia Clemmons. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Langston Titles*

September 2, 2018

2018 Merit Award
By Emma Thario, grade 11

Her voice is like a Juke Box Love Song
Even when she has a Bad Morning
She’s like Daybreak in Alabama
When Sue Wears Red
Her appearance is like a Bouquet of bright red roses
she just wants Acceptance
to feel that her Life is Fine
whenever my Quiet Girl journeys away
The Weary Blues
of the April Rain Song are what I sing
I travel to the Night Funeral in Harlem
Where there’s no Sea Calm
Yet all I can see is my Genius Child
In my Dream Variations
I see her dancing among the stars
That can’t seem to out shine her light

. . . . .
*Copyright 2018 by Emma Thario. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Youth Peace Poetry Contest

August 23, 2018

It’s time again for the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center Youth Peace Poetry Contest. Young writers ages 4 to 18 are invited to submit their poems on the subject of peace (with themes such as listening, respect, anti-bullying, friendship, etc.). Five winning poets will receive public recognition and have the opportunity to read their poems aloud at the WDRC’s annual Peace Builders Awards Gala.

To read last year’s winning poems and to download a submission form, visit the WDRC Youth Peace Poetry Contest page.

Submission deadline: September 25, 2018

On Mornings Like This*

August 19, 2018

2018 Merit Award
By KJ Vande Bossche

On mornings like this
when pieces
of the sky
are still missing,
I leave you
warm in bed
under sheets
soft as old t-shirts
to look for them.

. . . . .
KJ Vande Bossche (Van-duh Bush-shay) is a wife, mother, writer, teacher, cat-owner and motorcycle rider who lives and works in Bellingham. KJ graduated from WWU decades ago with a degree in English and plays with words on a daily basis.

“On Mornings Like This” was written early on a winter’s morning while sitting quiet and alone on the couch watching the sun come up and sipping that first cup of coffee. Previously published work can be accessed at

. . . . .
*Copyright 2018 by KJ Vande Bossche. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

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