Meet the Editors: An interview with the Poetry Editor, J. Taylor Boyd
It’s a new year and new staff here at BWR. We (the editors) interviewed each other so that you (the world) could get a sense of us as editors/readers. We’re pleased to meet you!
Interview by ELIZABETH THERIOT
Elizabeth Theriot: What kind of stuff did you love reading as a kid? How do you see those reading experiences resonating in your current role as a reader and editor?
J. Taylor Boyd: I was pretty unoriginal in terms of childhood reading, though I wasn’t allowed to read anything with witchcraft until my teen years. I’ll gladly admit that I (re) read the Twilight series well past the age of acceptability, so maybe that demonstrates some present interest in vanilla erotica?
But actually, I came into an appreciation of Dickinson at a very early age. She is the teacher of poetry’s rhythmic potential as far as I’m concerned, and perhaps the most effective crafter of silences that I’ve ever encountered. I pay close attention to the music of a piece thanks to her.
ET: What are some pieces from previous BWR issues that really made you say, “Yes. This. Of course.”
JTB: So many. I loved Jake Syersak’s “Of L’Air de…” for that careful attention to music, and Ching- In Chen’s “Island Where These Things Happen” for its play with the page. Aristilde Kirby’s “Sonnet Infinitesimal…” appeals to the secret form-lover in me, and L. Vella’s pieces in 44.1 turn the short lyric on its head. I could go on.
ET: Tell me about a favorite or significant early writing memory.
JTB: In second grade, we painted tigers and wrote a short story about them for our art class. I’d been watching a fair bit of Animal Planet, and so I wrote a story about the tigers’ mating practices. Suffice it to say that I was very offended and confused when my tiger painting was the only one that didn’t go on display in the hallways when we were done.
ET: If you were a breakfast meal, what would you be and why?
JTB: I’m thinking eggs benedict: a dish that appears sophisticated, but in reality is fairly easy. Also, I love eggs benedict.
ET: On this first day of 2018, what are you excited about reading and writing in the new year?
JTB: I’ve just finished Vanessa Angélica Villarreal’s Beast Meridian and was completely amazed by it. I’ve started Durga Chew Bose’s Too Much and Not the Mood and I’m liking it so far! I also got all of the Neapolitan novels for Christmas, so I’ve got my fiction-fix for a while. AND I’ve yet to read amazing work from our friend and colleague Nabila Lovelace: Sons of Achilles out from YesYes! And Anastacia- Renée’s (v.) is on my nightstand. I could probably go on forever here.
Writing-wise, I’ve just polished up a bunch of Shakespearean sonnets, so I’m taking a break from poetry and forms for a bit. I’ve got an essay in the work about red carpets that I think will occupy me for a few weeks.
ET: You studied French in your undergrad. What role does bilingualism play in your work? How have these studies influenced your approach to language boundaries and meaning-making?
JTB: I’m not sure, to be completely honest– except to say that knowledge of another language allows for a standard of comparison when observing one’s own language. In other words, it becomes more apparent how something is working in English when one has seen those structures operating in another language. I don’t often use other languages in my own writing, but if my studies have given me anything, it’s a deep appreciation for the authorship and craft of translators; theirs is an extremely difficult art, and one with which no one ever seems to be truly happy.
ET: Think about the poetic space you want to curate in BWR. Describe it as if it were a geographic landscape of your making.
JTB: I would prefer BWR to be an underwater space: weightless, quiet, vibrant, borderless, and, most importantly, hospitable to merfolk and monsters.