Arts & Culture News

A penny for your thoughts, a dollar for his poems

Jonny Bolduc sits, writing one of his poems, for which he charges $1. (Photo: Alex Estey)

One King’s student has garnered a reputation for crafting pretty poems at a petty price. In January, Jonny Bolduc posted an ad on Kijiji offering his services as a poet for the nominal fee of $1. Within days, his classified ad garnered attention from media outlets like Global and the CBC.

The Watch spoke to Jonny at his South End apartment on a lazy, overcast, weekend afternoon. He says he made the ad on a humorous impulse. “I was like, ‘You know what? I’ll just make a Kijiji ad.”
His cheeky advertisement, titled, “I will write you a poem for a loonie”, claims the funds he receives will go towards iced cappuccinos and overpriced mixed drinks. His sprawling plea offers “a personalized poem about whatever subject you want—and I mean whatever you want.”
“By the next day, it already started to get some attention,” said Bolduc. It made a great story: the CBC got him to write on camera, and The Coast requested he write  verses for their staff.
Bolduc’s impulse to write poems on demand may have been out of simple frustration, “If you want to get noticed and get published nowadays, you just send things out to online magazines and wait for a rejection letter. So I did this to shake it up a little bit.”
“I feel that might have turned some people off because they thought it was a joke or something,” But he says, “If you come to me with a heartfelt thing, I’m 100% serious.”
Some of the topics he’s waxed poetic on include: soccer, the New York Giants, long distance relationships, cats, Kraken brand rum, and Dartmouth call centres.
One special assignment involved a public reading by Jonny at the Foggy Goggle, a bar downtown. Krista Spurr hired him to write a poem about her friend Melanie for her birthday. He arrived at the party, unbeknownst to the birthday girl, with a personalized work of writing for her.
“When someone requests a poem that’s a gift for someone, I ask them to give me information about the person: what they do, if they have pets, what they like.” Bolduc says. “I wrote a poem about her and her cat slaying the kraken. I spent a while on that one too.”
“I thought it would be a fun, unique present for her,” Spurr says. “Our friend was really surprised and pleased. She really loved it.”
The project has provided him new inspiration and motivation, because the requests have pushed him into the unfamiliar. When he wrote a sonnet for a man’s 60th birthday,  “I had to learn a new poetry form and wrote it for him,” says Bolduc. “And he really liked it.”
Despite his nominal fee and a quick turnaround time, he tries to create something someone can cherish. “The longest I’ve spent on a poem for a dollar thing was about an hour because I couldn’t get it down,” he says. “I don’t want to give people crappy poems.”
Since starting the project, he’s written over 30 poems. In February he also added custom Valentine’s Day poems and live performances to his services. Those are for big spenders though—those respectively cost a loonie and a toonie.
Commissioned by Watch contributor Evan McIntyre, subject: The Watch.
By Jonny Bolduc
My face has never graced the illustrious,
inky pages of King’s most established
and reputable newspaper-
and I, like a ghost, appear-
I suddenly manifest- only with the
intention of fright. I am scraggy.
My heart is some patchy concoction,
a warm mixed drink with no ice,
warm radiated, stupid- I bite
like a bedbug and sleep the day away
but now, I can say I’m in the Watch
and that’s okay.
Date submitted: Jan. 28, 2013

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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