Mark Todd is the New West incarnate. In Wire Song, Todd’s first collection, each poem brings another element of contemporary life in the rural West into focus. Many poems detail the difficult, sometimes comical, sometimes beautiful, and sometimes heartbreaking work of ranching, telling stories of everything from the death of a foal to the arrival of spring, from what kind of hat to wear on the job to the traditional work of a farrier day. In his longer narrative poems, Todd recounts a present in which dirt bikers and ranchers collide (guess who wins), and a past in which he reimagines one of his own notorious forebears, John Wesley Hardin, at the moment he decides to take the path of crime and violence. Throughout Todd’s work, there is a delicate balance between the facts of nature and the domesticating work of man, in which something as ordinary as barbed wire comes to embody an entire way of life.
Mark Todd is the recipient of the 2017 Karen Chamberlain Lifetime Achievement Award for Colorado Poetry, and he has appeared on both Colorado Public Radio and the Travel Channel representing his work. He founded Western’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing, where he has been Professor of English at Western since 1988, and serves as Contributing Editor for Western Press Books. He has 25 years of professional journalism experience, having published hundreds of news stories, features, columns, and editorials in local through international markets. He also served as editor and publisher of both a newspaper and a regional magazine and, at one point, digested online news for the Lycos daily news service. Mark has performed his poetry across the country and in Europe. His books include two collections of poetry, a science fiction novel, and as co-author with wife Kym O’Connell-Todd a comedy/fantasy trilogy and a creative nonfiction book about hauntings in frontier mining towns of the Rocky Mountains. Three of his books were nominated for Colorado Book Awards and one was also nominated for the Colorado Blue Spruce Award.