Rest in Peace, Father Sluggo

The night that Trish called to tell me that Darin Whittaker, also known as Father Sluggo to both poetry and music fans, was no longer with us we had already been missing him. Concerned about bringing Covid home to his aging parents, he hadn’t been at the open mic for quite a while and we were having technical difficulties. “If Darin was here, he could fix this,” I had said, not realizing what had happened a few days before.

He was a talented poet and we loved what he brought to the mic, but it was his kindness and the way that he stepped up to help without needing to be asked that made him indispensable in our poetry community. He took it upon himself to hang fliers around town, help move tables, and, yes, magically make the touchy amp actually work.

I was able to attend his funeral in Orem, Utah and convey our condolences to his family. A copy of Orogeny was laying open in a display of beloved personal items (like his distinctive hat!). I looked closely to see his familiar eyes in his clean-cut high-school-senior-photo face. As I said a final goodbye, it felt like he could hop up at any minute. It still seems a bit unreal that he is gone. His sister read two of his poems during the service and I could hear his voice in my mind as clearly as if he had actually been at the open mic that week. His niece shared some of his favorite jokes (groaners, all of them) and another sister shared touching and fun stories from his life.

The pews were packed, as well you might imagine they would be, and I kept thinking about how many people there were who wanted to come but couldn’t. And that doesn’t even come close to the number of people he touched in his 48 years. How I wish he had 48 more.

Fourth Annual Poetry Contest Winners!

Join me in congratulating our poetry contest winners. Look for them in a poemball machine near you in the coming months! Also, in the next few weeks our winners will be featured at the Speak For Yourself Open Mic.

1st Place Winner: Cindy King for “We Maenads”

1st Runner Up: Lorraine Jeffery for “Eiderdown”

2nd Runner Up: Maurine Haltiner for “Resume–Ailanthus Altissima”

Thank you to everyone who submitted. We love to read your work! Look for emails regarding those that have been chosen to be in the next round of poemballs.

Fourth Annual Provo Poetry Contest–Cash Prizes!

Send your short poems to help promote poetry in Utah!

DEADLINE: July 15, 2021

ENTRY FEE: Free to enter.

JUDGE: Katie Manning

Katie is the author of Tasty Other, winner of the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and five chapbook collections: 28,065 Nights (River Glass Books), A Door with a Voice (Agape Editions), The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman (Point Loma Press), I Awake in My Womb (Yellow Flag Press), and Tea with Ezra(Boneset Books). Her poems have been published in many anthologies and literary journals, including American Journal of Nursing, december, Fairy Tale Review, Kahini Quarterly, New Letters, Poet Lore, So to SpeakStirring, THRUSH, and Verse Daily. She has received The Nassau ReviewAuthor Award for Poetry, The Thimble Prize, and several nominations for The Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Whale Road Review and has a Ph.D. in English (creative writing; women’s literature & feminist theory) from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and an M.A. in English (creative writing) from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. She is a professor of writing at Point Loma Nazarene University.

  • 1st PLACE – $100 cash and an optional feature reading at Speak for Yourself Open Mic at Enliten Bakey and Café in historic downtown Provo
  • 2nd PLACE – $50
  • MICROPOEM 1st PLACE: $50
  • POEMBALLS: All poems entered into the contest will be considered for inclusion in POEMBALL machines


  • Poets must have lived or spent significant time in Utah at some point in their lives.
  • Poems must be appropriate for a general audience (rated PG).
  • Provo Poetry is an all-inclusive community. Do not send poems with topics/speech related to hate, shaming, or cultural appropriation.

POEM LENGTH: For the general contest, submit short poems of about 20 lines or less. For the micro poem contest, submit poems of no more than 4 lines.

NUMBER OF POEMS: Send up to ten poems as individual attachments in a single email.

EMAIL POEMS: Send a single email with a separate attachment for each poem (up to 10 poems attached separately) to

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED: Previously published poems are permitted.

WINNERS/FINALISTS: You will be notified via email by September 1, 2021 if one of your poems is a winner or a top-ten finalist.

ACCEPTED POEMS: You will be notified via email if your poems are accepted for inclusion in the POEMBALL machines. POEMBALL machines are located at Pioneer Book and Enliten Bakery and Café in downtown Provo, as well as at KRCL 90.9 FM in Salt Lake City. Poets names will be mentioned on the poems.

Distribution methods may vary. No monetary payment will be provided to poets other than the winners as noted, but please know your contribution is important and appreciated! The key objective of Provo Poetry is to instill the love of poetry within the general community, bring poems to a wider audience, and to support local poets.

UPDATES: For contest updates and other events, please follow us on Facebook or Twitter or via email by entering your email here.