The master plan for this interview with Twitter's @ProductPoet was that all my questions would be in rhyme.
After puzzling over rhyming questions, I enlisted the talents of a poet about whom I've written, Tim Torkildson, and another reader from Richmond, Va., Shelton Bumgarner. Thanks, guys. Couldn't have done it with you!
Next I had to negotiate interview details with the Product Poet, who stressed that he does not get paid for the relentlessly sunny rhymes now viewed by 157,000 Twitter followers. He did not give me permission to show startribune.com/video of him without his mask or to share his real name, because he wants clients to take him seriously.
Enjoy @ProductPoet while you may, 'cause he plans to kill off his Twitter account some day.
Q: While rhyming rhymes seems to give you personal thrills, what's your real job, the one the pays the bills?
A: I wrote a story awhile ago that really explains who I am. It was called, 'What are you?' because people used to ask me that all the time. Let's say I am in the C-level suite of a financial services company where we are involved in purchasing certain types of instruments from individual debtors, and we also have a consulting business which we consider to be a technology incubator. We work with companies that are emerging and might need some investment capital to grow as well as [advice] on marketing social media. I get to play in both worlds, the creativity on one side of my brain, the analytics on the other.
Q: Your verse is sweet, sweet as can be. How quick can you write it with glee?
A: I tend to write poetry in response to tweets in 15 seconds or less. So I like to say I can read and respond in rhyme or haiku faster than almost anyone can do.
Q: How do you woo the muse each day when making money from poetry holds no sway?
A: For me, poetry and the reason I write poetry is to promote what I consider a dying form of art. Yet there's such a thriving community on Twitter, especially, using micro-poetry where you have the ability to disseminate a poem quickly to everybody around the world. On one hand, my being able to write a rhyme in haiku geared toward a brand sometimes is actually better than the way the brand [ambassadors] could do it themselves. I've only been attacked a handful of times by people who have said, 'What you are doing is writing poetry and getting paid by a brand?' I'm not in this for any economic benefit. It's simply for me to be able to spread poetry around the world. Everything for me is considered to be real-time marketing.
Q: When it comes to chillin', why is this poet one who prefers grillin'?
A: I love food. I love telling people about new products that they might not have ever heard about before, like my Big Green Egg. I'm constantly on this smoker/grill. I love to be able to get my neighbors and my friends their dietary fill. So for me, it's really relaxing, when I can be outside and I can hear the birds and the owls, when I've grilled at night. For me there is nothing greater than a great piece of meat, or fish, where the meat is sweet and the fish is delish.
Q: When taking up pen and ink, does having a thesaurus help you think?
Q: There is a lot of bad poetry out there. How much of your poetry is bad?
A: I would say, it's in the eyes of the beholder. When you write poetry and someone can't easily understand, then you've missed the mark. Good poetry is open to wide interpretation.
Q: Most poetry does not make sense to me, so is my problem that I am not very bright?
A: A lot of poets try to sound smarter than they are and they make it hard to read. All poetry should be easy to read. Why was Dr. Seuss so successful? What he wrote was iambic pentameter. It becomes very singsong and easy to read.
Q: Has Hallmark ever contacted you?
A: No. I write my own greeting cards, and their submission process is a little bit wonky.
A longer version of this edited interview is online with video. To contact C.J. try email@example.com, and to see her check out Fox 9's "Buzz."