35 poems for 35W

  • Updated: August 2, 2012 - 3:25 PM

St. Paul poet Todd Boss crossed the Interstate 35W bridge without a thought 20 minutes before it collapsed on Aug. 1, 2007. He’s been thinking about it ever since. To honor the 13 killed five years ago, and to mark what he has called “a huge civic tragedy,” Boss has written a series of 35 poems, called “Fragments for the 35W Bridge.” The poems are part of an installation at the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis and an audio composition by European artist Maja Spasova.

Click here or on the image below to hear the 35 poems read by everyday Minnesotans, along with photos from the tragedy. Or scroll below the image to read the poems yourself. (Click on the arrows to navigate from one poem to the next.)

Related content:
Write your own poem for the bridge. (We'll put selections online and in print.)
Readers' poems span the divide.
More about the Mississippi River installation.
Making of the project.
A scene from the I-35W bridge collapse. Credit: Brian Peterson/Star Tribune

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A scene from the I-35W bridge collapse.

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

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Credits: Five of Todd Boss’ poems are included in his collection “Pitch” (W. W. Norton, 2012). They are reprinted here by permission of W. W. Norton & Co. “Catching something sunken…” paraphrases a stanza of Frost’s “West-Running Brook.” “The river enters the gulf…” paraphrases Lucille Clifton’s “The Mississippi River Enters into the Gulf.” “O, set a man to watch all night” is a verse from the traditional song, “London Bridge Is Falling Down.” “Some say … brushed away” paraphrases the last paragraph Chapter 1 of Thornton Wilder’s novel “The Bridge of San Luis Rey.” “When we’ve been here ten thousand years…” is the last verse of “Amazing Grace.”

A message from the artists: Todd Boss and Maja Spasova wish to thank the many people who came to record their voices and tell their stories at the Central Library for this project in May. We are also deeply grateful to the Star Tribune and Friends of the Hennepin County Library, as well as those who sponsored our project with donated materials and resources: Countrywide Tire and Rubber, Plasti Dip International, Aero Assemblies, Ace Midwest Moving and Storage, and the Swedish Embassy, Washington, D.C.

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