Kenneth Pobo

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Pobo, Kenneth (1954- )

A professor of English at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, Pobo has taught at the University of Wisconsin and was poetry editor of Cream City Review (1980-1981). He wrote Musings from the Porchlit Sea (1979), Postcards from America (1980), Billions of Lit Cigarettes (1980), and Yes, Irises (1992).

Pobo feels his poetry is in the tradition of Eliot, Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Auden. What he dislikes is “the boring ‘I’ poems of contemporary writing,” and he is committed to the gay rights and feminist movements. Is there any hope for the human race? “No,” he responds. But is there any hope for individuals? “Yes.”

Asked about humanism, Pobo responded:

  • I consider myself a humanist in the tradition of E. M. Forster who opens his great novel Howards End with the phrase “Only connect.” I do not think of the word “humanist” as soft and gushy but a word which is as exact as the point of a diamond. A humanist must care about social justice issues. For me, Forster’s only connect starts in our homes but extends beyond the borders of concepts like the nation-state. Humanists can be believers in a Supreme Being or Beings or not. As of now, I see little evidence which supports a belief in a Supreme Being who “cares” about us. We must care for each other—as much as we can—as it is a bleak world. And such caring is an active verb. It means trying to wake up. As a writer who is gay, I feel particularly driven to use my time, and my writing life, to advance a greater awareness of a simple fact: gay people are people and not just “things” to be controlled and/or eliminated by a vicious society.
  • Likewise, I see little evidence that there is a life after death. I certainly hope that heaven, were there to be such a place, would have nothing to do with all-day sunlight and gold streets and glitzy mansions. I’d like to go to a heaven with my lover. It’s called a bedroom. It’s here on earth. Another easy-to-get-to heaven is my garden. Why strive for a heaven with too much sun and not enough darkness? Plans need darkness to thrive. As for Hell, oh brother, don’t I wish there were a big nasty one waiting for Pat Buchanan, Jerry Falwell, and Ronald Reagan. But those dull boys needn’t worry too much. Worms will eat them and finally they’ll make the world more beautiful when they fertilize flowers. Hell is usually conceived of as hot. If it exists, it probably would be hot. I so prefer Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto—free of humankind, they’re already much warmer than Earth. Since I write poems, stories, and essays, sure, I’d love them “to live on” but even if they don’t (and they probably won’t) I had a blast writing them and think it’s a pretty cool way to spend a lifetime.

Original is in Harvard's Houghton Library