Travis Mossotti ’05 Treasures Poetry’s ‘Un-Busy’ Nature

| November 1, 2011


Webster University Creative Writing grad Travis Mossotti

Travis Mossotti '05

Travis Mossotti’s love affair with poetry started slowly.

“I remember reading my first collection of contem porary poetry (Sailing Alone Around the Room, by Billy Collins, a gift from my mother) and being amazed at the fact that poetry could still exist in a relevant way,” said Mossotti. “Of course, I subsequently started trying to write the stuff myself—poorly at first, imitating what I read, but more often I began to ‘fail better,’ as Samuel Beckett said.”

Mossotti eventually transferred from St. Louis Community College to Webster University, mainly because of professor David Clewell’s reputation as a poet and poetry teacher. He earned degrees in English and French in 2005.

While an M.F.A. student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Mossotti started a literary journal, Saxifrage Press, which continues today. And he kept on writing poetry.

His poetry began to appear regularly in journals, and it began to be recognized. In 2009, Mossotti received the James Hearst Poetry Prize from the North American Review for his poem The Dead Cause. His first collection of poems, About the Dead, was awarded the 2011 May Swenson Poetry Award by contest judge Garrison Keillor, host of National Public Radio’s Prairie Home Companion and  a highly regarded writer.

Keillor also wrote the introduction to the Utah State University Press’ publication of About the Dead. In it, he said that “…at every step, I was surprised by the rightness of (Mossotti’s) choices, surprised by so many odd works that seemed so exactly right.”

Following several out-of-state university teaching jobs, Mossotti has returned to his native St. Louis, where he teaches at Lindenwood University and St. Charles Community College—and writes poetry. He and his wife, Regina, are the parents of an infant daughter.

Juggling family, jobs, poetry, and poetry readings across the country leads Mossotti to describe himself as “busy by default.”

“Of course, everyone, no matter what country of origin or occupation, seems busy these days,” he said. “If more people would read more poetry more often, we all might learn to slow down once in a while and appreciate each other, a sunset, the smell of grass, etc. It’s what I treasure most about poetry—how decidedly un-busy it is.”

This story originally appeared in Global Thinking, the blog of the Webster University College of Arts & Sciences.

Back during his days as a student, Mossotti was also interviewed for a 2005 Global Thinking article about the Creative Writing program at Webster.

Category: Advancement, Faculty, Webster News

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