Contemplating the 35W bridge collapse through art and poetry

A public art installation in the Mississippi River seeks to inspire contemplation as Minnesotans mark the 5th anniversary of I-35W bridge collapse.

35Winstallation.jpg“Project 35W”, which is up through the month of August, is the work of poet Todd Boss and Swedish visual artist Maja Spasova. It consists of 35 oversized life-rings anchored in the calmer river waters between the Stone Arch Bridge and the new I-35W Bridge.

In addition, viewers can call (612) 573-5900 to hear Boss’ sequence of thirty-five 35-word poems, “Fragments for the 35W Bridge,” as read by Minnesotans.

Boss says he began writing the poems three years after the collapse because he found he was still haunted by his feelings about it: anger, frustration, fear and heartbreak over those whose lives were lost.

I crossed the bridge 20 minutes before it collapsed like thousands of other Minnesotans. Like 9/11, you really didn’t have to be part of the tragedy to be a victim of it; the bridge collapse affected all of us. The city experienced a traumatic event.

I write poetry not because it helps me remember an idea, but because it helps me revisit and evolve my ideas. Five years after the event, the city’s trauma has evolved, and so perhaps this poem maps the evolution of my own trauma. I hope readers will see their own evolution reflected in mine. I hope the installation on the river will provide a contemplative space for Minnesotans to bring whatever associations they see in it, for the sake of exploring their evolving thoughts and feelings about the collapse.

The official unveiling is tonight at 8pm at the northeast end of the Stone Arch Bridge.

In conjunction with the installation, the Star Tribune , and has created a website, and today published all 35 of Boss’ poems. Here’s one of them:

4

And

where

had

they

been

going,

those

thirteen

gone?

- Dinner

with

a

friend.

- Bakery

customers

all

over

town.

- Greek

folk

dancing

lessons

beneath

Saint

Mary’s

Greek

Orthodox

dome.

- Home.

- Home.

- Home.

- Home.

- Home.

- Home.

- Home.

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