Kenneth Pobo

Pine Row Issue No. 2 Autumn 2020 - Featured Poet

Rising and Setting

When most everyone knew

that nuclear war was near,

Aunt Stokesia polished

the silverware ten miles away.

Disaster didn’t mean standards

should be relaxed. I decided

to listen to old songs,

played “Incense And Peppermints,”

honoring my paisley self. I mixed

a martini which I drank

in my dark basement. The bombs

didn’t keep an address book. Flash.

The sun rising and setting

at the same time.

Interview with Kenneth Pobo

Did anyone help influence your interest in poetry?

I got interested in poetry through the popular music of the late 60s, early 70s. Marc Bolan of T. Rex was helpful in breaking me into more evocative forms of imagery. In college I started reading poets. I feel like I am in conversation with poets, dead and living, all the time.

What inspires you to write poetry. Why do it?

I’ve been writing since summer 1970 so there must be something about this form of expression that calls and re-calls me to it. A blank page doesn’t judge. It says “Fill me.”

How do your poems transition from inspiration to draft to final version?

I’m always revising, including after a poem is published. I’m with Annie Dillard about beginnings being what we toss out. My early drafts are chatty and probably more getting the wheel to turn. Revision lets in more light. It can be a struggle and a pleasure—at the same time.

What book is currently on your nightstand?

I’m reading a biography of Lytton Strachey by Michael Holyrod right now.

Will you please name a few poet/s who inspire you?

Tomas Transtromer. Stevie Smith. Ocean Vuong. Frank O’Hara. Lucille Clifton. Theodore Roethke. Wang Wei. Li Bei. Du Fu. Emily Dickinson. Rita Dove.

Do you have access to a community of writers / artists / poets?

I just retired and the teachers in creative writing at Widener, where I worked, always were supportive. We were/are in dialogue quite a bit about our writing and reading lives.

Do you have a routine, such as where or when you write?

My best time is late morning until lunch. I’m awake then and energized. Before then I’m enjoying my coffee. After lunch I want a nap.

Anything else we should know?

Two new chapbooks came out this past year: Your Place Or Mine, Alabama State Poetry Society, and The Book of Micah from Moonstone Arts. Forthcoming is a book from Assure Press called Uneven Steven.


Kenneth Pobo has published ten books and twenty-one chapbooks. His work has appeared in: Amsterdam Review, The Fiddlehead, Hawaii Review, Atlanta Review, Nimrod, Brittle Star, and elsewhere. He recently retired from teaching English and creative writing at Widener University in Pennsylvania.