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Featured Poet: Todd Boss

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome American poet Todd Boss (pictured) to these pages this National Poetry Day week, with a few poems from his delightful debut collection.  And, not only because he is a namesake of mine, either.  Boss has quickly become a favourite poet of many, especially for his imaginative use of rhyme and rhythm, recovering some of the old-fashioned fun of the well-made poem, without sacrificing originality. Born in 1968, Boss grew up on an 80-acre cattle farm in Wisconsin, the son of a carpenter, and a bookkeeper.  He has an MFA in poetry from the University of Alaska–Anchorage. 

Boss’s first poetry collection, Yellowrocket (W. W. Norton, 2008) will soon be followed by Overtures on an Overturned Piano (2011). His poems have appeared in Poetry, The New Yorker, NPR, and Best American Poetry. He won VQR’s Emily Clark Balch Prize in 2009. He is the self-appointed poet laureate of Nina’s CafĂ© in Saint Paul, and is a co-founder of, a poetry film initiative. His website is  The poems below are from Yellowrocket and reprinted with permission of the author.

The Truth

is a chewy
treat, like
toffee, only
less sweet,
and slightly
nutty, like
birch bark,
with a salty
aftertaste as
steely as a
best doused
with straight
whiskey or
dark coffee.



We had Kris Kristofferson’s
Me and Bobby McGee

in vinyl.
We had vegetable

barley soup in
Mason jars and plenty

of candles and cakes
of lye soap.

We had firewood
by the cord.

My father had some
muscle and an

Allis Chalmers tractor.
Autumn’s apples

were in the larder,
the guns were locked,

the freezer was stocked,
the garden was weeded,

we thought we had all
that we needed.



With a squeal, the already
otherworldly broadcast
only a tattered hiss.

                               At first
my father’s fingers
the dial of our radio,
fritzed as a flintless lighter,

then he leaned in closer,
intent on
                            the news
we needed
                  out of that box.

I never saw him touch more
slightly anything or anyone,
all his
           fingertips navigating
in and out of
                      nonsense for
the lifeline of our lives,
           swiping it off.

no more news was ours but
the storm’s dark musings
on the matter.

                         Even last
fall’s fruit, jarred in the root
cellar just around the corner,
           its cupped lids


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Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

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