Provo poet lives to make people laugh


For more than 20 years, reporters around the world have been receiving poems from a Provo man who reads their work and has something to say.

“It’s an obsession for me,” Tim Torkildson said. “Whenever I read something interesting I just have to respond to it in verse.”

Sometimes sent electronically, other times in the mail, poems range in length but are always witty and always rhyme.

He subscribes to at least seven papers — ranging from The New York Times to his hometown paper the Minneapolis Star Tribune — and responds to anything that “tickles” or “outrages” him.

The first poem he remembers sending was back in 1993, a serious poem about the Waco, Texas siege.

Since then the 61-year-old has written thousands.


During an average week, he’ll write and send five poems to various reporters and news outlets. About 90 percent of the time he doesn’t hear back, but the few times he does is what keeps him going.

In January, Rachel Abrams from The New York Times wrote about the curiosity and persistence that eventually led her to interview Torkildson and publish three poems he sent her.

More recently, Torkildson said he received feedback from a reporter in Europe who called him a “genius” and told him she would “treasure” what he had done with her stories.

To hear feedback like that from a professional writer is gratifying, Torkildson said, especially as a college dropout. He likes the friendships it forms, and hopes someday his hobby could lead to a full-time poetry-writing career.

“I miss doing something that makes people happy,” he said.


For a good chunk of his life, Torkildson worked as a clown for the Ringling Brothers. His poetry writing started years ago when he was a young father traveling with the circus. Since his kids were home in Provo, he’d write them poems as a way to stay in touch and let them know he was thinking of them.

After arthritis forced him to leave circus life, Torkildson spent 15 years teaching English in Thailand before finding his way back to Utah Valley.

In July 2014, Torkildson received some press from multiple national news outlets after being let go from his part-time job in Provo for supposedly promoting a “gay agenda” through teaching about homophones.

In between jobs, he’s searching for something that makes him and others happy.

“I’m not made to cause people unhappiness,” he said. “If I’m not entertaining people I’m not happy.”

(From an article by Keri Lunt Stevens in the Provo Daily Herald, Wednesday, March 4. 2015)

Alma; Chapter One.


When the Judges started reigning in the Nephite lands

Men and women for the most part toiled with their own hands.

Nehor and his followers, who preached for gold and glory,

Were quickly made irrelevant to the Nephite’s story.


Instead the members of the Church, under the direction

Of Alma tended their own fields and lived in great affection.

Equal with each other, they did not put on grand airs;

They shared with all their neighbors as they bore each other’s cares.


While those who stayed unchurched indulged in worldly revelry;

They paid themselves with folly from the devil’s currency.

Murder, rape and bondage came to them without surcease,

Because their hearts were not attuned to hear the Prince of Peace.

13 Ways to Get Publicity from a Journalist.


Journalists may not be dyslexic, but they often seem to have short attention spans. Or maybe they are just fussy like little kids. Be that as it may, when you want a journalist’s attention because you have a product or service or story you want them to take notice of, you just may be out of luck. Breaking news may keep your interesting item from ever being noticed. Unless you know how to grab their attention.

1. Offer them money.  Oh sure, there are some finicky people who think such an offer is unethical. But who said it has to be cold hard cash? Offer them a free wine and cheese bar at your new branch office opening. Print your story on a nice t-shirt and send it to several reporters; one of them is bound to follow up with you.

2. Join Alcoholics Anonymous. You’ll meet a lot of journalists there. Ask one of them to be your sponsor; then they’ll publish your story.

3. Forget the journalists. Start your own blog and make your story go viral. It happens all the time.

4. Offer a free timeshare to the first journalist who writes about your real estate company. (Of course, the timeshare is in Hoboken, New Jersey — but so what?)

5. Get hired on a newspaper so you can write the story yourself; journalism school takes four years, so START NOW.

6. Bypass the journalist and go to his or her editor; review steps 1 and 2 above.

7. Create a snappy headline to focus their attention.  Something like “I AM CHARLIE SHEEN’S LIVER” or “WE INTERVIEW THE CORPSE OF P.T. BARNUM!”  You’ll hear from some writer, no doubt — even if it’s only one from MAD Magazine.

8. Picket your local newspaper, with a sign that reads “This Pewsnaper is Ufnair to Dyslexics!” You’ll be interviewed for your story on your way to jail.

9. Did you know journalists are underpaid? Why don’t you give them a cushy job in your company?  All they have to do is write their last story about your product or service. (Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.)

10. Buy your local newspaper. At the rate they are failing, you can pick one up for a song — and then have the journalists working on it sing your tune.

11. Hold a press conference. Invite the mayor or other politician to it; they will make sure it gets covered for you, the big showboaters . . .

12.  Outsource!  You can outsource customer service, manufacturing and technical support to some third-world country very inexpensively — so why not get a journalist from, say, Cambodia or Nicaragua to write up your product?  Of course, only people who can read Khmer or Spanish will know about it.

13. Start doing family history. You will inevitably find a distant relative, still living, who is a journalist or who has some connection with a journalist. Look them up, take them to dinner, give them a sad story about how your company desperately needs the attention of a good journalist, and let them do the rest. And if they don’t . . . well, at least you can fill in another part of your family tree.


Minnesota Writers.


(Inspired by a story by Kim Ode)

I do not think the weather is conducive to fine arts

Here in Minnesota, with its ice in fits and starts.

Whether you’re Fitzgerald or Charles Schultz or Frances Gumm,

Minnesota is a great place to be COMING FROM.


Writers most especially find winter such a bore;

Even Sinclair Lewis couldn’t take it anymore.

Dour and oppressive are the people and the climate;

Writers here go crazy – you can very nearly time it.


John Berryman had ev’rything a poet could desire,

But came the day he had to take a real aesthetic flyer.

The study of dead writers from the Midwest is depressing;

When I get the palm, off to Hawaii I’ll be progressing!

Book Review: “The Bishop’s Wife”, by Mette Ivy Harrison.


Hoo boy, your inclination to think Mormon men do rule

In their homes, or elsewhere, is as shaky as fine tulle.

Experience at first-hand, and my years of observation,

Give me leave to say that it’s the women give dictation.


A man may be a Bishop or an Elder, but despite

Any priesthood calling he is in for quite a fight

If he figures he can rule the roost without consent

From his helpmate (and the unofficial President).


Women who are LDS are so secure in power

That a whispered word or two makes the menfolk cower.

That is why the Temple marries us eternally;

Cuz it will take forever to learn true equality!


Ode to the Angler.


Fishing, to Americans, is taken as a right.

We fish our rivers, lakes and streams with all our hungry might.

And when we’re balked of water rich in piscatory wealth,

We feel it prejudices all our happiness and health.


The fisherman is noble in pursuit of finny prey.

He (or she) spends millions ev’ry single angling day.

And all to put a hook inside the mouth of something scaly,

Besides which job, romance and gold become distractions palely.


“O, do not fence me in” is what the fisherman implores,

As he casts his line upon the everlasting shores.

For if you take away the pools of bass and shark and trout,

What will the poor fisherman have left to lie about?




This piscatorial post is brought to you by King Oscar.  They are to sardines what Tiffany’s is to jewelry!

Our Busy Congress.


Congress is as static as a glacier under glass.

As slow to move as granite, as immovable as brass.

Passing legislation is no longer their for-tay;

They only live to lollygag the goshdarn live-long day!


Of course, they’ll rename post offices or pass a resolution;

As long as it demands no thought or slightest convolution.

But major legislation is not something they’ll consider;

They treat it like a leper or a piece of trash or litter.


This feckless inanition isn’t partisan at all.

It comes from PAC donations that are really quite a haul.

Why should a legislator put himself out on a limb,

When in a pool of money he can softly, safely swim?




This trenchant blog is brought to you by the Bank of American Fork.  It’s your money; we only keep it safe and sound.