INSTALLATION: Project 35W


Photo by Todd Boss
Photo by Todd Boss

To mark the fifth anniversary of the tragic downtown Minneapolis 35W Bridge collapse that killed 13 and injured 145, Todd collaborated with Swedish artist Maja Spasova to create Project 35W, a month-long "meditation garden" in the Mississippi River.


Thirty-five giant life rings anchored in the river were paired with thirty-five 35-word poems available by phone from a viewing site just upriver from the collapse, on the historic pedestrian Stone Arch Bridge. The photo at the right was taken from that site, and the rings were visible on either side of the bridge, spanning a total of approximately four acres. The 35W Bridge, recently rebuilt, is visible downriver, lit up in light blue.


The project was sponsored by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which published the entire 35-poem suite in its entirety on the front page of the Variety section on the collapse anniversary. The suite, "Fragments for the 35W Bridge," is collected in Todd's third poetry collection, Tough Luck (W. W. Norton & Co., 2017).


Photo by Todd Boss
Photo by Todd Boss

Here's #16 from "Fragments for the 35W Bridge."


Not

water

but

air’s

where

the

fallen

fall

first.

Not

landing,

but

numbing

to

the

fact

that

landing

is

coming,

is

the

worst

part

of

falling.

Not

losing

a

loved

one

but

calling

and

calling.



I crossed the I-35W bridge just 20 minutes before it fell into the Mississippi River, which is unremarkable, given the bridge's daily traffic load. I vividly remember arriving home, getting one of those "are you okay" calls from my cousin John Hermanson, and dialing up CNN. It took me years to gather the courage to tackle the subject in a poem, and the 35-word fragment was the constraint I needed.


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