Questions with...Don Kloss
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
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
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
5. Give me names. Who are the best new poets, in your
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
6. Best of the Net or Pushcart? Which matters more and
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
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
9. Where do you see yourself and your poems in five
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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