Pamela Klein: Poet Interview

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that many poets follow Poetic Asides by reading what everyone else is doing, and they either play along anonymously in the shadows or don’t play at all–but they watch and read. Pamela Klein is one such poet. She says, “This was the first year I participated, though I’ve been turning to your blog for inspiration for years.” And what a way to start off–by ending up on the Top 25 list.

Pamela Klein

Pamela Klein

Pamela is a first-year PhD student at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee studying creative writing–poetry. She has an MA from the University of Northern Iowa, where her involvement at the North American Review included the role of Production Coordinator. She is currently the Development Co-Coordinator at cream city review. Her publications include poems in Right Hand Pointing, Paterson Literary Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, and Barbaric Yawp, and book reviews in Gently Read Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment.

Here’s Pamela’s Top 25 poem:

In Case of Contentment, by Pamela Klein

In case you settle in,
in case you find a modest job,
a modest income that satisfies,
in case you decorate your apartment
to lose sight of the mildew stains
and arrange your furniture in a way
that pleases you, in case
you meet your neighbors
and their dogs
and like them
despite the hours of barking,
the slamming doors, the low-brow
taste in beer; in case you forget,
in case you forget your aspirations,
your goal to live in luxury–
a long lane leading to your three-car garage–
look out your window.
The needle freak is back
digging through your trash again.


Where are you located?

Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Who are your favorite poets?

The list grows and grows. A few that come to mind (their books are right at my elbow, stacked on my endtable): M. NourbeSe Philip. D. A. Powell. Rauan Klassnik. Cavafy.

As a reader, what do you like most in poems?

Clever language, especially through unexpected word choice and syntax. Especially syntax, which sets up expectations without our really noticing it–until we come across something “incorrect” or deliberately messed with.

What were your goals for the 2013 April PAD Challenge?

My main goal was to generate poems and to try new things–like sci-fi poetry.

What’s next for you?

I have a couple of projects in mind: A collection of sci-fi poems. A collection of poems that skirt the periphery of some “real” shadow event or another. I’m very much interested in the assumptions we make, in how confident we are about “what happened,” about other people, about the world around us, etc. The question is what these poems look like and how to approach writing them.


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Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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