Meet the Editors: An Interview with Managing Editor Gail Aronson

Jan 26, 2016 | Archive, Interviews

It’s a new year and a 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/weirdos. We’re pleased to meet you!


Interview by REEM ABU-BAKER

Reem Abu-Baker: What’s the extremely abbreviated history of Gail Aronson?

Gail Aronson: I was born on my mother’s birthday at the very cusp of Aquarius and Pisces. I lived in a suburb, and then another suburb where I attended slumber parties and ate sugary cereal for breakfast, had braces and a bat mitzvah. As a teenager I started drinking black coffee in late night diners. Then I moved to some fields not far away and adopted an orange cat named Beatrice. For a brief time, we left our rural town of freight trains for a city apartment. We lived in the unit across from our elderly landlady who grew parsley in the alleyway, and left again for a different city by the sea. Most recently, Beatrice and I packed our belongings in a van and drove until we saw the Grand Canyon. Now here we are in Tuscaloosa. I’m still not sure if I’m more Aquarius or Pisces.

RAB: What do you value in a piece of writing? What do you want to see in the upcoming issues of BWR?

GA: I try my best to experience pieces of writing on their own terms. Though we all have preferences and biases, I feel most compelled to figure out what a piece is asking of me as a reader as opposed to preemptively looking for certain characteristics, which I think can occur in the editorial process. I will say that I tend to find myself drawn to an attention to language, pieces that lean towards the lyric. I love humor and sadness, when a piece succeeds at making its reader feel both at once. I also value pieces that take some sort of emotional risk, and work that creates its own logic. For upcoming issues of BWR, I want to see writing that’s challenging and fierce, strange and kind. I am most excited to work alongside the other staff members, to be part of a dialogue. While I don’t have a singular idea of what should appear in our upcoming issues, I would most like to see a continued dedication to representing a diverse range of voices in our pages.

RAB: How do you see your role as managing editor at BWR?

GA: My role as managing editor includes a variety of tasks, but in terms of how I think about my position here, I would like to emphasize again the idea of a dialogue. I hope to be in conversation not only with the current staff, but also with those who came before me. I feel deeply invested in listening to my peers in order to bring forward great work, to make the best journal we can. I have always enjoyed organizational and administrative roles in which I am able to have a hand in creating and supporting something I care about from the background.

RAB: What, besides stuff you’ve read, influences the way you think about writing? In other words, what non-literary things influence you?

GA: I try to pay attention to the world around me. I’m really inspired by images especially. I’ve always loved movies, and tend to accumulate images online. I think the reason for this is that they put me in a visual, imaginative headspace. I’ve been spending a lot of time considering how social issues in our present reality and history may also trigger an imaginative space, may help us project possibilities for different realities and futures. I often think of the Anais Nin quote, “I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live.” When I look at and listen to the world around me, it very much informs how I think about words on the page, and the possibilities for the worlds that might exist within them.

RAB: Without thinking about it too much, give us a reading recommendation, a watching recommendation, a listening recommendation, and a drinking recommendation.

GA: Read: The Blondes by Emily Schultz or Hospice by Gregory Howard

Watch: Girlhood or Foxes

Listen to: Yowler or Kleenex/LiLiPUT or Nicki Minaj always

Drink: Pamplemousse La Croix or skip the drink and go get some pizza