Thick With Conviction - A Poetry Journal
thick with conviction a poetry journal
 10 Questions with...Don Kloss


Don Kloss is a fifty-something poet, musician, insomniac and harvester of the seas. His work has appeared in such publications as The Edison Literary Review, Voices Of Reason and Chantarelleís Notebook. In 2006 his poem The Ice Pick Surgeon was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. When not chasing his muse he can be found either on his mountain bike or in his canoe.


1. What or who gives you inspiration and perspiration?

Right now I am getting a lot of inspiration from the poetry of Kristy Bowen. I think that her attention to imagery and compression of the language is stunning. I recently read a magazine interview with her and she was talking about how to her, imagery and compression are the most important things in writing a good poem, even ahead of apparent logic in the piece. That really hit home for me. I get it. In general, I am inspired by the everyday things and happenings around me, whether it is a car accident, a death, an insect or someoneís smile. A poet friend, Adele Bourne, once said that ďall the world for poetry is gristĒ. I truly believe that. As for perspiration, there is a long list of pretty ladies that do it for me.

2. Have you always wanted to write, or did you have a secret desire for something else, like spelunking?

I was a drummer from an early age, and later a guitar player. I always wanted to be a rock star. Iíve played in a lot of bands over the years, so Iíve gotten my little piece of the dream. My journey into writing started with writing lyrics to songs that my friends and I composed, and poetry just naturally came after. I started writing juvenilia in high school, and continued into college, where my professor had a very good time shredding my work. To my mind, I havenít written real poetry until the last few years.

3. Do awards and accolades make you swoon? Have there been any that you're particularly swoon-y about that you've gotten?

Awards are definitely swoon-worthy. I know that a few years ago when one of my poems was nominated for a Pushcart, I did some swooning. That said, as nice as they are, awards and accolades are not the ultimate validation. For me the ultimate validation is when someone reads one of my pieces and they tell me that it affected them inside in some way. I canít ask for more than that. That is my real goal.

4. When you're not leaving your poetic footprint, what else in the world makes you warm and fuzzy?

Being outdoors does it for me, whether it is camping, fishing, hiking or paddling around in my kayak. So does playing music. Music is almost like religion for me. My dogs Bosco and Cortez never fail to make me feel good inside, too.

5. Give me names. Who are the best new poets, in your opinion?

Obviously, I put Kristy Bowen in that category. I also like Tony Gruenewald, Tony Hoagland, B.J. Ward, Yusef Komenyakka, Franz Wright, Billy Collins and Stephen Dunn.

6. Best of the Net or Pushcart? Which matters more and why?

I think they both matter. I believe that right now the Pushcart matters a bit more because for the moment print media is still king. I see that changing, though. Online media is a steadily growing force.

7. Then and now. What poem made you start writing and what poem do you absolutely love right this very moment?

The poems of William Butler Yeats and Samuel Taylor Coleridge caught my attention first. Iíd have to say that Yeatsí The Old Men Admiring Themselves In The Water was the first to really inspire me. The poem that I love right at this moment is The Secret Of My Success, by Charles Bukowski. I love to laugh and it makes me laugh just thinking about it.

8. Are online poetry 'zines a crushing blow to traditional print 'zines, or are they the meat and potatoes of the poetry world now? Also, which do you prefer?

As I mentioned earlier, I see online media as a rising force. It is becoming more popular and more important as time goes on. On line media is dealing a significant blow to print in general. Look at what is happening to newspapers and magazines right now. They are struggling to gain and keep subscriptions. I donít think that print will go away, though. People do like to have paper in their hands. I read both, but I honestly have been spending more and more time at on line journals and Ďzines.

9. Where do you see yourself and your poems in five years?

On the beach at St. Croix! Seriously, in five years I will still be in Jersey, working and cranking out poems. I hope that by then my work will have progressed greatly in terms of quality. My goal is for my work to be good enough in five years time that I will be totally embarrassed by what I am writing today.

10. What are the ingredients for a tasty poem?

There are lots of technical ingredients that we are all aware of: strong verbs and nouns, proper punctuation, good line breaks, and so on. I think that the most powerful and important ingredient of a tasty poem is that elusive combination of a few words that cause you to feel something inside, whether they makes you laugh, cry, or squirm in your seat.







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