In this next installment of our “Meet the Editors” series, we talk with our poetry editor Claire Kruesel about milk-crate libraries and pterodactyls (warm blooded or cold?)
Flyway: In a couple of sentences, share something about your background—writing related or not.
CK: I created and operated a yellow milk-crate library as a kid. I taped makeshift Dewey-decimal-system identifiers to the spines of my books and “loaned” them out to my sister and parents, and—if I recall correctly—attempted to institute fines. It didn’t last, but I still LOVE libraries!
Flyway: What book can you not stop talking to people about?
CK: Year in and year out, since reading William Gibson’s Neuromancer, it’s always wiggling its way into discussions (mostly in my head, but—yes—also with others) about the intersections between psychology, technology, communication, and architecture in the future. So, basically, any chance to make it relevant, I take!
Flyway: What book inspires or compels your writing?
CK: The more I write, the more I realize how inescapable the experiences and ingrained aesthetics of childhood really are. A book that changed how I viewed words—and what I wanted to get out of their arrangement in books—is The Crown Snatchers, by F. K. Waechter and Bernd Ellert. At the time it was, for me, innovatively subversive, challenging, and rewarding—a combination of story and illustrations that were questions themselves. Though I’m not exactly creating graphic poetry, I try to channel that feeling by writing in a way that lets people figure something out about their own minds, their own emotions, their own inner workings. A more genre-relevant, current writer I’m really enjoying is Rita Dove… about a poem a day hits the spot and inspires.
Flyway: What literary magazines (other than Flyway) do you read?
CK: Thanks to social media, I like skipping around via friend-recommended poems and then digging into the parent magazine. Regular reads include Rattle, Ecotone, Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast, and Diagram. Wag’s Revue has featured some refreshing art.
Flyway: What writers do you seek out in literary magazines?
CK: I don’t feel I can properly answer this question with specific names—both because it changes all the time, and because I’m a connectionist, always seeking novel variations on the same good words and ideas; names I recognize and respect guide me into magazines which are publishing relatively new voices that are likely to offer similar quality, resonance, voice, or value.
Flyway: Is there an aspect of the writing life, or the writing industry, that deserves more attention than it gets?
CK: Book cover design does so much work to make or break a book, in my opinion. It’s so much more than a graphic art—the psychology behind a successful designer encompasses an intimate understanding of everything from industry trends to the season’s “fashionable colors.” There’s definitely rising interest in, and appreciation for, this art—and maybe it’ll be a way to preserve the physicality of books even when the pages are in some electronic tablet. Maybe we’ll wear their visual representations on our walls as art? Check out the LA Times’ “Best Book Covers of the Year.”
Flyway: What advice do you have for potential-contributors of Flyway?
CK: I want to be surprised; I want to be delighted. I want to wake up thinking about how the parallels you drew—the metaphors you implied—were as obvious, as genius, as concrete, but so completely original that jealousy and reverence are the only possible reactions. Do the work to incite an epiphany between my own neurons, tricking me to thinking it was my own—and leave me with a sweet but intrigued taste in my mouth. But most of all, I want your words to plant an understanding of how it feels to love the world like you do.
Flyway: What extinct animal do you wish could be revived, & why?
CK: Probably the pterodactyl (but only temporarily, for ethical don’t-mess-with-time-travel-and-evolutionary-order reasons). I’d wonder if other birds would freak out or somehow respond to it. And: if you cut it, would it bleed… warm or cold? (2013 University of Adelaide research indicates: warm).