Sunday, May 6, 2012

Todd Boss

I think I was at Wilde's Roast in Saint Anthony, down along the river. I was meeting some poet friends who were kind enough to let me horn into their poetry discussion.

This was a couple weeks ago, and the weather was just bright enough where you felt compelled to sit on the patio, but it was kinda cold, so since I was the first to arrive, I chose the inside.

Inside is safe.

So everybody gets there, takes their seat, and somebody point's to a huge tapestry of Oscar Wilde and says......

Look, it's a Todd Boss tapestry.

The entire table laughed.

I'm guessing most of you won't get the humor here, so let me bring you up to speed.

Todd Boss is a successful poet in the Twin Cities.

He has had books published, been awarded grants, stuff like that.

He is also big into making short videos and layering poems over them.

Don't quote me, but I think it's called Poetry in Motion.

I don't know Todd personally, we have been attached by proximity several times, but that's about it.

So now that my table of friends is noting the physical similarities between Oscar Wilde and Todd Boss, a member of the group wonders if Todd might be intentionally trying to bite on Wilde's vibe.

After all.....nobody has sported that hair style since Prince Valiant - LOL.

But that's what makes poets interesting I think.

Who wants to hear observations from cogs within the machine?

The server brings our table drinks, and before the group decided to discuss their own affairs, Todd Boss stayed on the discussion platform.

I can't recall who threw this into the mix, but somebody stated that Todd once claimed the best way to become an author is to write 10 000 poems before becoming serious.

For the record now.....I am not saying Todd Boss said this, I'm just stating that somebody attached this wisdom to him.

I pondered this for a moment, and then I had to be the Pollack in the room.

I had to disagree.

I do believe repetition is good, but I have heard other poets swear by writing a poem every-single-day.

I think when you focus on numbers or deadlines, how can you throw fireballs?

Your content will become deluded.

On numerous occasions I've meant to ask Finley his thoughts on this, but each time I see him, this trivial matter usually gets upstaged by a Poodle puppy named Lucy, or conversations regarding his wifes Opera try outs.

Anyways...I'll throw it out to the cosmos, and who knows?

Maybe Finley can respond to whether a poet needs to write a certain amount of poems to become "Serious".


  1. Every writer's process is different. For some, writing a poem-a-day might be the way to go. For others, it might only be during moments of inspiration. As far as I know the "one-a-day" prescription is the kind of dogma dished out in MFA programs, where the objective is not necessarily "seriousness" so much as making students feel that they're getting their money's worth via the sharing of gnostic wisdom. There is no evidence to suggest -- and lots of evidence to suggest otherwise -- that Keats, Rilke, Frost, Yeats, Akhmatova or even Dickinson -- except for a span of a couple of years when she was on fire -- ever wrote a poem a day, and none them (even Dickinson) came close to writing 10,000 poems, yet I think we can agree that they are all "serious" poets. I could say more on this topic, and on the provenance of this sage advice, but it's probably best to stop here...

    1. Thanks Rich, I always like to hear your opinion, and just so you know...if you ever get bored, feel free to hop into this site and rant on!

  2. When I was 22-24 I had a practice of just typing all day, and immediately tossing the output into the trash. I would take a copy of a magazine and use a heavy coffee cup to prop it open, and go through the issue "imitating" each poem, doing my own version of them. An imitation could be a paraphrase, an "everything opposite" poem, any kin of free association that might lead in an interesting direction. I saved a handful but I threw a couple thousand away. I'm not sure what it accomplished. Confidence, I guess, and a feeling for what constituted structure in the free verse styles of the 1970s. I never went to a workshop, but I guess that does sound like a workshop exercise. Writing 10,000 poems would get you past the "horror of the blank page."

    1. I don't know what makes me laugh with a blank page, or you rewriting entire magazines!

  3. I apologize in advance for the tone, but this post managed to annoy me.

    I assume by "Pollack in the room," you are referring somehow to Jackson Pollock and that was a typo. If you meant "stupid person in the room" and were using "Pollack" as a slur, then you have proven your point. Do you speak Polish? If not then you are clearly stupider than Wislawa Szymborska.

    I think a "serious poet" takes herself and her poetry writing seriously. If by "serious poet" you mean someone who has published a book or gotten grants or something else, then that criteria is self explanatory and you need to be more explicit. What do you mean by "serious poet?"

    I've tried the poem a day and it almost lasted a month. I know other people that enjoy it. As Rich said, "Every writer's process is different." Any particular way of writing will work for some and not others. However, does that have any bearing on whether a person is a "serious poet" or not?

    I go to a conference each year filled with writers. The only constant among us is that we write. Methods, practices, and writing environments vary wildly. "Really? That works for you?" is a frequent comment to a description of how a particular person engages in what we call "writing." I can say that my partner's way of writing poetry is very different from mine.

    I am a novelist who occasionally writes poetry and gets it published. My partner is a dedicated poet who writes poetry and gets it published. With that description, how do you (a person external to our life) decide whether one or both of us is "serious?"