Sue Boynton Poetry Contest accepting poems from county residents


The Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest, now in its ninth year, is accepting single-poem submissions from Whatcom County residents through March.

The contest is a program of Whatcom Poetry Series, a nonprofit organization.

All county residents are invited to participate, regardless of age or poetry experience. Past winners have ranged in age from 5 to 87, and in experience from first-time poets to a former state poet laureate. Participation is free.

This year's judges, Jim Bertolino and Sheila Nickerson, will select 10 Walk Award winners and 15 Merit Award winners. Winning poets are invited to read their poems at a free public awards ceremony May 15 at Bellingham Cruise Terminal.

Winning poems are displayed on plaques for a year in front of Bellingham Public Library; and placards of both Walk and Merit Award poems, designed by Egress Studio, are displayed on Whatcom Transportation Authority buses.

"The contest is a way for us as a community to celebrate poetry," says Norman Green, Boynton committee co-chair. "We receive hundreds of submissions each year from Whatcom County poets, unpublished or professional, young and old, of myriad backgrounds and experience levels. It's wonderful to highlight our own local poetry through the contest and its accompanying activities."

Related activities include a published booklet of winning poems, available at the awards ceremony, and the broadcast of winning poets reading their poems on Bellingham TV Channel 10 and YouTube.

A fundraising dinner, Taste for Poetry, is scheduled for April 22 at Ciao Thyme. Multi-winning Sue C. Boynton poet Angela Belcaster will be the featured poet performer. Tickets for the dinner are $75, available through Brown Paper Tickets.

Updated guidelines for the contest, a sample submission form, and additional details are available at


Avielle Heath, production manager for this year's Guerilla Film Project (a film competition for teams of high school students in the region), sent me a list of the winning films, with links to their productions.

The Audience Choice Award winners are first place, "Battle of the Brushes" by Sehome High School; second place, "Being Monday" by Anacortes High School; and third place, "Welcome Home" by Sedro-Woolley High School.

The Judges' Choice Award winners are first place, "Battle of the Brushes" by Sehome High School; second place, "Welcome Home" by Sedro-Woolley High School; and third place, "Sophie the Recluse" by Anacortes High School.

All of the films have been posted on the Facebook page (search for guerilla film project), as well as the Bellingham Film Festivals webpage and on YouTube (search for guerilla film project 2014).


Tickets are now on sale for the Skagit River Poetry Festival, May 15-18 at various venues in La Conner.

The four-day event kicks off with two of the Northwest's most daring and original voices, Tom Robbins and Sherman Alexie, swapping literary wit and wisdom in a first-of-its-kind onstage interview.

Other participating poets include former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass and National Book Award-winner Mark Doty; Native American artist and author Elizabeth Woody; Wallace Stegner Fellow Michael McGriff; Jamaican-born poet, actor, editor, critic and musician Kwame Dawes; and Susan Rich, winner of the PEN USA Award for Poetry.

Top Northwest artists on the bill include award-winning Seattle slam poet Matt Gano; Kelly Davio, praised for her dark poetic intensity; celebrated nature writer Tim McNulty; and Emily Warn, the Webby Award-winning founding editor of

Newly announced Washington State Poet Laureate Elizabeth Austen also will participate in the lineup of performances, panel discussions and interviews. On the final day, select poets will offer writing workshops to the public.

Tickets to the rest of the events are on sale through Brown Paper Tickets. Unless sold out, tickets will also be available at the door.

The opening event May 15 is a fundraising Poets' Table dinner, where guests share delicious, locally grown food, fine wine, and literary ideas with the poets seated at their table. Coming to stage later that evening are Robbins and Alexie.

More than 2,000 people attend the biennial event, which transforms a small town into Poetry Central.

"The festival turns La Conner into a town filled with poetry, from its churches to its museums, its community center, and its bed-and-breakfasts," poet Susan Rich says in a press release. "Where else can a person sleep, eat, live, and breathe poetry for a spring weekend?"

The festival, one of the largest celebrations of poetry on the West Coast, is hosted by the Skagit River Poetry Foundation, a nonprofit organization that brings poets into school classrooms year-round to promote literacy, an appreciation of language, and youth participation.

Details:, 360-770-7184,

Reach Margaret Bikman at 360-715-2273 or

Bellingham Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service