Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Kenneth Pobo Interview

Kenneth Pobo in conversation with Frank Burton. Kenneth Pobo's poetry collection, Fitting Parts can be read online or downloaded for free from

How do you feel about the term "queer lit"? Would you call yourself a queer writer, or just a writer?

I don’t mind the term “queer lit.” But I don’t like any term that over-defines a writer, tries to put the writer into a category or box. I am a queer writer. I am also a writer. I could often be called a “nature” writer or sometimes a “60s pop music” writer. It can be a challenge to get confrontational gay work published (though when I use the term “gay work” I don’t think work has a sexual preference). I’m grateful that Philistine Press doesn’t shy away from it.

Do you enjoy being confrontational?

I enjoy it in poetry, but not in “real” life. I’m a coward, I think. That’s one of the great things about poetry — trying on masks, many of them powerful masks. And like Tiresias, I can change genders if I so desire. I can be a bird as easily as a human being.

There is a lot of anger in "Fitting Parts" about battles that are yet to be won. Are you optimistic about the future?

No, I'm not optimistic. The stresses on our poor planet are leading us closer to more horrific wars. Global warming will cause enormous upheavals and nightmares, yet leaders and the general population are oblivious. Peak oil will lead to calamities for dwindling resources. For gay people in America where I live, our full rights remain a dream, not a reality. Many people are changing, slowly, but there is a fierce resistance. Hate is just another point of view.

Fitting Parts is, partly, an angry book. There is good reason to be angry - furious - and this anger is largely rooted in continuing oppression.

Do you think writers have the power to change things?

Like Auden, I suppose I think that art makes nothing happen. However, it can change perceptions of those who come into — deep — contact with it. And that is important and perhaps a catalyst for change. Some writers have changed the political conditions and raised the questions necessary for change, Martin Luther King, for example. And writers can help to provide the courage to challenge oppression. I think of Neruda or Chinese poets in the Tang Dynasty who were sometimes exiled and threatened—and still created. Their courage can give us courage now.

Who are your influences?

So many! Poets are with me every day — if they died centuries ago doesn’t matter. Their presence remains real for me. Some that come to mind: Du Fu, Li Bei, James Tate, Ginsberg, Theodore Roethke, Anne Sexton, Tomas Transtromer, Jean Follain, Emily D, Walt W, Neruda, Lucille Clifton, Plath, David Trinidad… I’m going to stop there or I’ll fill up the screen. I will add D.H. Lawrence for his “Pansies” — of the writers listed here, “Pansies” are probably blooming brightly in Fitting Parts.

Finally, how do you feel about internet publishing?

Internet publishing offers a writer the world. Readers from almost anywhere can have access to your work. That’s a great thing. The one thing I miss is holding a book in my hand. Yes, you can print it out, but there is something magical about holding a book. The Net offers writers a chance to connect in ways that couldn’t have been imagined before its arrival.

New Review for Kenneth Pobo's Fitting Parts

Thanks to Shannon Peil for this review:

If previous publications were any indication, Kenneth Pobo's 'Fitting Parts,' published by Philistine Press is here to feature Pobo's punchy, urgent but accessible word craft. 'Fitting Parts' contains 27 poems, widely varying in content and execution. From sharp, cutting derision of the American right to the melancholy image of growing up on the receiving end of distaste and hate as a gay man, the included poems sweep back and forth from rage and sorrow, to courage. Pobo's carefully constructed composition makes every word and line count throughout, skipping flowery language and opting for content rather than laborious poetics. At times his internal monologue feels hopeless, destined to be marginalized and hated by politicians and the very country he calls his own - but interspersed are fierce words of endurance and determination to make his voice heard, unwilling to be stuffed back into the closet and forgotten about.

Shannon Peil, editor of literary journal ''

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Two New Releases from Philistine Press

Philistine Press are proud to announce the release of two new ebooks, available for free from

Isotropes: A Collection of Speculative Haibun by TJ McIntyre
TJ McIntyre’s stunning collection of haibun packs a library full of ideas into a compact space. With genres ranging from sci-fi to fairytale to realism, Isotropes is as unclassifiable as it is brilliant.

(Haibun: a literary composition that combines prose and haiku.)

Sample poem:

Promethean Petri Dish

At the microscopic level, the cells split, recombined, and danced a
dance invisible to the naked eye. A tango of sorts, the cells altered
little by little with each gyration, becoming something more than they
were. When they started banging against the lids of my Petri dishes, I
knew I was on to something, and I still could have turned back. But
that was never an option -- I’ve always moved forward and thought this
time should be no exception. I added a little more heat, the glass
broke, and they were free.

the world lost itself
I was nowhere to be found
molecules devoured

Read more here

Fitting Parts by Kenneth Pobo
Kenneth Pobo writes about life, politics and sexuality with precision and passion, combining subtle humour with furious anger. The poems in Fitting Parts expertly expose the hypocrisy of the religious right, while serving as a wakeup call to any liberals who believe bigotry no longer exists.

Sample poem:

He Says his Best Days Were in New Orleans

Not sexually

compatible, Harry

and Jim last

a month. Jim’s

into rimming. Harry’s

into long con

versations about

the meaning

of relation


Jim says his best days

were in New Orleans.

Harry doesn’t ask why,

goes in

to take a shower

and when Harry

comes out,

Jim’s gone.

Read more here

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Pissing off the Purists

"Comedy, Tragedy, History" by Akala

Three reasons why I like this ...

1. It's a great track.

2. It's slightly ridiculous.

3. I can imagine Shakespeare purists foaming at the mouth when they hear it.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Incwriters Blog

Writers and editors at Dog Horn Publishing are the guest bloggers for the month of April at

This is my contribution:

A History of Sarcasm: A Non-Rock and Roll Tour Diary
By Frank Burton

January 13th 2010

Total cock-up. I spent a lot of time over the last couple of weeks sending out invites, handing out flyers and putting up posters for tonight’s event at Winchester Discovery Centre. Went on BBC Radio Solent in the afternoon, half an hour after being told the event was officially cancelled due to heavy snow. Gave a strangely upbeat interview, saying how much I loved the snow, even though it was responsible for the cancellation of my gig (and for a few people getting killed, etc, etc). The interviewer asked me if I’m inspired by beautiful things, and I said no, I think beautiful things are works of art in themselves. That’s why I like to write about people and their crazy habits.

Read the rest here