Friday, April 15, 2011

Poetry Friday: After Todd Boss

Photo by Sarah-jane Laubscher - See link below.

My writing group and I took a look at the work of an interesting young poet named Todd Boss in the latest Poetry Magazine, then tried to duplicate the short-line rhythms, rhymes and wordplay in his poem "Amidwives."  Imitation can be an intriguing way to get yourself out of old ruts, strengthen some poetry muscles, and surprise yourself (no surprise for the writer = no surprise for the reader.)  Give it a try sometime with an unfamiliar new poet whose work intrigues you. Whether you're writing for adults of for kids, it's not hard to identify other writers whose work you love, and to figure out the parameters of your imitation. I straddle the fence between work for kids and work for adults, which I used to find difficult (maintaining my balance) but which, more and more, I'm enjoying. One effort refreshes and strengthens the other.

Here is what I came up with - not sure yet if it's just a yo-yo trick or if it works, though I know it falls short of Boss's tight control.  But it goes somewhere I wouldn't have gone without the challenge. The word "parsimony," by the way, is defined many ways in the OED, one of which is "the principle that no more entities, causes, or forces than necessary should be invoked in explaining a set of facts or observations" (thus, the short lines, which is a choice I usually don't make....) 


This frugal route
between here and the other

riverbank could be seen
as the root

of all evil,
laid out by the Devil

to keep me in doubt
about the after-

or a rowboat
to tow me

past the last level
of Hell.

Once I can tell
one side from the other

I'll go right
to the right bank
of one right
river or another,

row across
then thank my dopple-

(the original loss
of which was either more than
double or less than

a little trouble.)

Diane Mayr is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-up over at Random Noodling - head there to see what other people have posted.

Also: I recommend the work of the South African photographer Sarah-jane Laubscher to you  She has a wonderful eye - I love the rowboat (above) -  and her photographs of trees are eerie and powerful.


  1. Those internal rhymes remind me of Kay Ryan, too. You gave yourself a tough challenge! Huzzah for your success!

  2. Thanks, Mary Lee. You're right - it's quite a lot like what Kay Ryan manages to do, and I love her work. There's also a poet named Joanie Mackowski who incorporates this kind of rhyme and word-bending in her book from a few years ago - THE ZOO.

  3. That green-painted rowboat! The eye really wants to dwell on it.