Mar 01, 2020

A National Treasure in Words: Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest 2020

This living flowing land
is all there is, forever

We are it
it sings through us —


Gary Snyder, By Frazier Creek Falls

…, Remember the small
secret creases of the earth — the grassy
The wooded, and the rocky — that the water
had made, finding its way.


Wendell Berry, Sabbaths


This year, we are holding our annual poetry contest, A National Treasure in Words: the Morro Bay Estuary, in March to match the release of our triennial State of the Bay report. We are asking writers ages eight and up to send us haiku focused on the Morro Bay estuary and poems of any form that deal with the questions, answers, and ideas discussed in State of the Bay 2020.

Visit the bay’s shoreline and write about the marshland plants and the animals that you see and hear. Hike up the peaks that line the edges of the Morro Bay estuary’s watershed and write about the feeling you get from seeing the myriad twists and turns of the silvery channels snaking their way westward, moving from freshwater in nearest the hills to saltwater closest to the bay.

Write about the eight creeks—Wendell Berry’s “creases of the earth…that the water has made”—that lend their freshwater to the bay and the generations of people and wildlife that have depended upon them. Write about the wild crashing waves that spray over the jetty and enter the bay. Write about the bat rays that give birth near Shark’s Inlet, the babies’ stingers wrapped in a protective sheath. Consider the depressions that the bat rays leave like a memory pressed into the sand on the edge of the sandspit when the tide goes out.

Tell us how the estuary, its watershed, its wildlife, the science behind the way these delicate systems work, sings through you.

The contest is open today, March 1, through March 31 at 11:59 p.m. Winners will be notified by April 17, 2020, and will be eligible to participate in a celebratory reading at Coalesce Bookstore in May. You will find complete rules and contest details at

Help protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary

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