By Ana Alexander
HOWARD LAKE, MN Thomas Knutson of Howard Lake has been writing poetry ever since he was a child, and now, his work is set to be published in London.
Knutson’s father was an advertiser, so he had opportunities to write pieces of advertising scripts and songs for different clients. He had been writing poetry for most of his life, saving the poems, but not pursuing their publication. However, one day Knutson decided to gather all of his work together, and see how much he had actually written.
“I was kind of surprised by how much I had,” Knutson said. “I actually had enough to do a little tabletop booklet of nothing but romantic poetry so I guess I have a lot of romance on my mind.”
Knutson’s book is titled “Lovescapes,” and includes about 60 poems Knutson has written over the years. Knutson has read his poetry at several coffee shops, and sold copies of the book afterwards.
“You’re really not expecting it to click, and then when people buy it, you’re like, ‘Maybe I’m on to something,’” Knutson said. “I’m kind of grassroots, I guess.”
Knutson said the process of putting out poetry for the first time can be nerve-wracking.
“It’s kind of like your first kid you go out there and hope that it doesn’t fall on its face,” Knutson said. “Then when it doesn’t, you think, ‘Wow, I guess I did a good job.’”
Knutson’s poetry falls into a few different categories.
“One would be romantic poetry,” Knutson said. “The type of stuff you would get for Valentine’s Day.”
Knutson also writes poetry that discusses a place or time from his memory. He also writes narrative poetry, or poetry that tells a story.
“I try to rhyme as much as I can, but I also have gone into free form, where it doesn’t rhyme at all,” Knutson said. “Most of my training comes out of music, so if you’re going to sing a song, you would hope that it rhymes.”
While he has experimented with free verse in his poetry, Knutson feels like his natural inclination is to work with traditional form.
“I think traditional is more ‘me.’ I’ve gone into free verse a little bit, but it’s not like it’s a whole bunch of random thoughts, like some people do,” Knutson said. “My poetry has a start, a middle, a direction, and an end. There’s definitely a purpose in it.”
According to Knutson, the frequency of his writing “comes and goes.”
“I kind of wait for the inspiration,” Knutson said. “I keep a pen and pad with me wherever I go, because I never know when the lightning bolt is going to hit my brain.”
Knutson suggests that other writers keep a pen and pad with them for times when inspiration strikes, as well as a tape recorder, so one can record his or her ideas quickly, instead of jotting them down.
“Sometimes I wake up at two in the morning, and I’ve got this crazy idea that I’ve just got to write down,” Knutson said.
For Knutson, each poem takes a different length of time to complete.
“I’ve actually turned around fairly decent [poems] in about 10 minutes flat,” Knutson said. “Other times I’ve gotten writer’s block and I just get stuck.”
As for poetic inspiration, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow comes to Knutson’s mind.
“People say that I remind them of him, somehow, which is an amazing compliment,” Knutson said.
According to Knutson, he is happy with the way his poetry has been received.
“I’m glad that it connects with people,” Knutson said. “I’m trying to write about something that’s a common thread. You never really know until you get it out there that you’ve hit a nerve.”
Knutson has also had work published outside of “Lovescapes.” He has entered contests, and won prizes and awards for his writing.
“I started getting into these anthologies that are put out by the Library of Congress, and by different contests that give out prizes,” Knutson said.
Knutson’s work is being published in First Class in the UK, as well as in an anthology titled “American Poets.”
“This makes it the first time that I’m published in the same month on both sides of the pond,” Knutson said. “You kind of mark your life on what you’ve done, and this is a big first.”