As part of a blog initiative started by this year’s FUSE conference on literary citizenship, The Blue Route is beginning a series of short author interviews with local writers. Our first interview begins as local as we can get, with Widener University’s own Dr. Pobo!
Dr. Kenneth Pobo is not only an English and Creative Writing professor at Widener University—he’s our self-proclaimed poet-in-residence! After receiving his PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Pobo taught at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville before joining the Widener faculty in 1987.
Throughout his career, Pobo has published more than 25 books of poetry and short fiction in addition to countless poems and flash fiction pieces in literary journals and magazines such as Indiana Review, Mudfish, The Cider Press Review, The Fiddlehead, and Hawaii Review. In 2008, Pobo published Glass Garden with Wordtech Press followed by When The Light Turns Green with West Chester: Spruce Alley Press in 2014, and Bend of Quiet with San Francisco: Spruce Alley Press in 2015. He is the winner of the 2009 Main Street Rag Poetry Chapbook Contest, the 2011 Qarrtsiluni Poetry Chapbook Contest, and the 2013 Eastern Point Press Chapbook Award for his manuscript Dust And Chrysanthemums from Grey Borders Press, and has a new book of ekphrastic poems coming out in 2017 called Loplop in a Red City, from Circling Rivers Press.
Though he is not fond of machines, Pobo notes that he usually writes on the computer, finding it enhances his process. Some subjects are often present: the garden, music, environmental and human rights issues, particularly LGBTQ rights, his past, and art. “Inspiration for me is getting my butt in the chair—something will happen. I rarely have writer’s block, unless I’m just too tired from the day to focus,” he said.
Currently, Dr. Pobo is working on a few manuscripts, one of which, Sore Points, began as an exercise in one of his creative writing classes. In addition, he is revising Loplop in a Red City. “It may be a common misconception that once a book is accepted, the revision process is over, [but] this is not the case,” Pobo said. “Often, the most demanding revision occurs after acceptance.”
To creative writers struggling to find their voice Dr. Pobo emphasizes the importance of reading. “READ,” Pobo said. “Read for improving your thinking process. Read writers who can be guides for your own work, but not only them.” He also urges “to keep writing and don’t get discouraged. Don’t let the voices that say ‘There are many writers who are much better than I am’ block you. You have observations and things that need to be said—and only you can say them.”
A perfect Sunday afternoon for Dr. Pobo involves getting muddy in the garden and topping it off with Widecast Internet music show, Obscure Oldies. His favorite song of all time is “12:30 (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon)” by The Mamas & The Papas released in 1967, however, he recently bought Micheal Bublé’s Nobody But Me. Dr. Pobo is also a tie-dye enthusiast and on the matter says, “I love color and I want color to slide all over me. Clothes should dream in color. No more coffin-esque flat colors afraid of their own energy.”
Learn more about Dr. Pobo’s work on the Widener English blog.
Written by Emma Irving.
(Image courtesy of Painters and Poets)