Boynton Awards, May 17

Hope you will join us on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at 7:00pm, for the 2023 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest Awards Ceremony. The poets will read their winning poems and a chapbook of the year’s winning poems will be available for purchase. The annual event, at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven, is free and open to the public and is a wonderful celebration of community poetry.

. . . . .

Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

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the new snow

By Luther Allen

the new snow
fresh as if you’d never seen snow before,
never seen the leaning maple, the galactic spire
of seed clusters, rustblood of dock stems,
or the perfect chickadees.

soft as it takes you in, holy,
like your first step
into a forgotten world
of silence.
gentle in its burden.

never questioning whether
it is a veil or the lifting of a veil.
and you know nothing

other than you are being

being held.

*Copyright © 2022 by Luther Allen. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

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.

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The Madrona Project

The Madrona Project is a series of anthologies produced by Empty Bowl Press. Each substantial volume is themed and assembled by a different editorial team. For the most recent edition, The Madrona Project: Vol III Number 1: Art in a Public Voice, the editors, Samuel & Sally Green and Michael Daley, invited responses to public artworks throughout the Pacific Northwest. The resulting anthology is beautifully produced, with more than 50 color images of the art along with the ekphrastic responses.

Non-Sign II” is a sculpture by Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo of Lead Pencil Studio. It sits on a low knoll on the U.S. side of the southbound Peace Arch border crossing from Canada. J.I. Kleinberg and I co-wrote “Non-Sign II: Oculus” — a poem in two voices — in response to the sculpture and are honored to have it included in this impressive publication, which can be ordered through Empty Bowl.

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SpeakEasy 29: Waymaking

SpeakEasy 29: Waymaking presents an audience-friendly afternoon of poetry featuring Bill Yake, Empty Bowl Press, and a curated program of fine poets.

Please join us at this free, public event at the Mount Baker Theatre Encore Room on Sunday, September 18, 2022, at 4:00pm. Masks and proof of vaccination are required.

Poet, naturalist, photographer, traveler, and occasional essayist Bill Yake has been published widely in books, magazines, and anthologies. His book Waymaking by Moonlight (Empty Bowl Press) and the title poem were inspiration for this SpeakEasy.

In addition to Bill Yake, Empty Bowl Press will be represented by newly announced co-owner Holly J. Hughes along with Marie Eaton, Kathryn P. Humes, and Lois Holub.

Reading their own poems in response to Bill Yake’s poem “Waymaking by Moonlight” will be Barbara Bloom, Nancy Canyon, Linda Conroy, Rick Hermann, David M. Laws, Charles Luckmann, Jerry Dale McDonnell, Victor Ortiz, Dayna Patterson, Raúl Sánchez, Leslie Wharton, and Richard Widerkehr.

The event is free, books will be available for purchase, and donations to support local poetry are welcome. Hope to see you there!

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SpeakEasy: looking back, going forward

As we finalize the details for SpeakEasy 29: Waymaking, coming up Sunday, September 18, 2022, we thought we’d share a little update on recent developments regarding SpeakEasy 27: A Spiritual Thread.

As you may recall, the five participating poets, Susan Alexander, Luther Allen, Bruce Beasley, Jennifer Bullis, and Dayna Patterson, wrote a series of linked poems, which they shared in a series of five Zoom sessions, followed by a sixth, audience response, session. The SpeakEasy 27 poems were rich and powerful and the poets have been pushing them out into the world:

Susan Alexander’s poem “Corona,” which included an epigraph by Dayna Patterson, was published in Clementine Unbound.

Bruce Beasley’s poem “Called to Lapse” was published in Plume, Issue #132, and he introduces it here.

Jennifer Bullis’s poem “December Roses” has been accepted by RHINO Poetry and is scheduled for publication in the winter.

Dayna Patterson’s two poembroidery pieces, “A Spiritual Thread” and “Thread Shadows” were published by Thrush. “Our Lady of Thread” was published in Kenyon Review, Volume 43, Number 6, and a modified version of “O hot doctrine of O” has been accepted for Sugar House Review’s Sugar Suites feature.

We know that additional poems from the series are circulating among the journals and there will very likely be additions to this list. Meanwhile, we congratulate (and thank) the poets and invite you to view the Zoom recordings, all available on the SpeakEasy 27 page.

We have an impressive lineup of poets for SpeakEasy 29 (more soon on that) and look forward to seeing you at the Mount Baker Theatre on September 18.

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It’s been over 2 1/2 years since we’ve hosted a live, in-person SpeakEasy poetry reading. We feel like it’s time to rise from the electronic bonds of the Zoom world and see the actual (masked) faces and vaccinated bodies of our friends. It’s still a ways off – Sunday, September 18, 2022 – and we realize that the pandemic could go crazy in any direction, but we are planning as if this will actually happen.

SpeakEasy 29 will feature the Olympia poet Bill Yake and Michael Daley’s Empty Bowl Press along with a carefully curated selection of additional poets.

I started reading Yake’s Waymaking by Moonlight about a year ago and was stunned by the quality and depth of his writing. I will say without hesitation that if you only buy one book of poetry this year, it should be this book, and it should take its place next to books on your shelf by Gary Snyder, Pattiann Rogers, and in many ways, Mary Oliver. Some collected words about his poetry: “poems of the natural world and the curious ways of humankind,” “deep ecological insight,” “unbridled lyric celebration,” “astonishing feat of language and human imagination.” And it turns out, Bill is a real person and has done real work as an ecologist and is willing to spend his own gas money to come to Bellingham to read for us.

Empty Bowl Press has published Bill Yake and other important works of poetry for many years and we’re honored to have their presence at the reading.

We’ll have additional details in the coming weeks, but meanwhile, please mark your calendar and plan to join us for SpeakEasy 29 in the Encore Room at the Mount Baker Theatre in Bellingham on Sunday, September 18, 4:00pm.

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It has taken a while, but the video from the June 30, 2021, PoetryBridge LIVE reading is now available for viewing on YouTube. Luther Allen and Tamara Kaye Sellman were the featured poets, with open mic participation by Clare Chu, Narayan Rajan, Bonnie Wolkenstein, David Horowitz, and Beverly Darnall.

Thanks to Leopoldo Seguel, Chief Provocateur and PoetryBridge wrangler.

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May 19

around in the passage
we bait with last summer’s ling heads
drop the rings
drift off.

fifteen minutes       or half a beer
quick hoist, lurch over
and spiny crabs
scuttling everywhere

females and smaller males
plucked overboard
big males in the bucket
they will die, be eaten

and we will live, in grand fashion

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The View from Lummi Island

January 3

this island
smoothed and settled
humped and wild

thrown just off
the exploded heart
of the san juans


January 4

to the west:

grey layers and violet lines
smeared fractals and escher covenants
holding/creating          sweeping away
stalwart islands and thin-skinned waters
spasmodic winds and
skittish, fragile beliefs.


January 5

to the north:

the unseen flattening
fraser delta

jagged abrupt bulkhead
of bc mountains

and beyond:
grizzly, caribou, greyling

and just a bit further:
white seas, white bears

white fantasy.


January 6

to the east:

all intent
governed, overwhelmed
by pale ephemeral apparition
of koma kulshan

the center of the earth, revealed
still restless

the sacred fear.


January 7

to the south:

the lorelei
the teeming exigency
the inevitability

of seattle.



The View from Lummi Island, newly updated, is now available from Village Books.

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Saturday reading & workshop

You’re invited to join the Lummi Island Heritage Trust for an afternoon poetry reading and workshop with Luther Allen. Both events will be held outdoors at the Otto Preserve, 3560 Sunrise Road, Lummi Island. Bring a chair or blanket, your writing materials, and your mask.

The reading will start at 4:00pm and the workshop will follow. The new edition of The View from Lummi Island will be available for purchase, with sales benefiting LIHT.

Information on the Lummi Island ferry here.

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