Contributor Spotlight: Robin Kozak

“Timber Lorries;” “Honey Bee, Lanikai;” and “Kailua Blue” by Robin Kozak  appeared in Issue 21 and can be read here.

We’d love to hear a little more about these three poems.

On “Timber Lorries”
After living and working in Houston since the 1980s, I moved to rural Arkansas in 2011.  In a town of 12,000 people, the silence is deafening at times—and any sound, no matter how small, travels for miles.  At night I’d walk outside to watch the stars, and the reverb from the logging trucks on the highway sounded like the strains of Ry Cooder’s guitar.  A haunting sound that has found its way into my fiction too. The most difficult part of the poem was I wanted the poem to sing in spite of my frustration with the isolation and lack of “creature comforts” in Arkansas.  It’s a tension I feel to this day.

On “Kailua Blue.”  
When I saw the photo of Michelle Obama and Melania Trump having tea at the White House after the election, I felt even at one remove the distance in the room—as if a canyon had opened up between them.  Kailua Blue is the name of the Obama State China service. The poem flowed naturally from that point. The most difficult part of writing it was I wanted the poem to be easy and accessible, not weighed down with political rhetoric or artistic references. I hope I succeeded.

On “Honey Bee, Lanikai.”  
I’d been playing around with another Hawaii poem, and this piece nudged the other out of the way.  The magic of writing never fails to astound me.

What’s a favorite book published within the last decade?  

I love Mad Enchantment, Ross King’s biography of Claude Monet and his water lily paintings.  Because of my background in antique jewelry, I’m a sucker for anything period: novels, nonfiction, the works.  And King is a good storyteller. He lets Monet speak for himself.

If you could have a drink with any living author, who would it be?  Why?

That would be Erich von Däniken, whose book about extraterrestrials, Chariots of the Gods, defined my childhood.  Von Däniken is everything I admire in a writer: passionate about his subject, good-humored and warm-hearted, someone willing to stand by his beliefs.  Having a drink with him would be a treat! But only if he brings his friend, George Tsoukalos, a fellow “ancient aliens” enthusiast, along too.

What are you working on now?  What’s next?

I’m eager to finish Berkowitz, my collection of short fiction.  Then it’s time to start my second novel.  In between, needless to say, more poems!  

Our thanks to Robin for taking the time to answer a few questions and share her work. Read Robin’s poems “Timber Lorries;” “Honey Bee, LanikaiIt;” and “Kailua Blue” here:


Robin Kozak’s writing has appeared or is upcoming in Antioch Review, Arkansas Review, Crazyhorse, Field, The Gettysburg Review, Hotel Amerika, Indiana Review, Poetry Northwest, Witness, and other publications. Among her awards are two Creative Artist Program grants from the city of Houston and the 2016 Sandy Crimmins Prize for Poetry. An authority on antique and estate jewelry, she has also recently completed a novel, The Kingdom It Would Be. Read More: A brief interview with Robin Kozak