Meet the Editors: An Interview with Poetry Editor, Kelsey Nuttall
We get a new staff every year here at BWR. We (the editors) interviewed each other so that you (the world) could get a sense of who we are as readers.
Interview by CHELSEA HANNA COHEN
Chelsea Hanna Cohen: What is the best poetry collection you read in 2019?
Kelsey Nuttall: This is a huge question and it makes me think first about my to-read pile being an ever-growing mass in the back of my brain. (Or a physical mass on my coffee table, bedside table, shelf, wherever.) But I suppose everybody can always be better-read? Anyway, anyway. Most recently, though, I’m excited about Soft Science by Franny Choi, borrowed from a discerning friend. It got me with the “Glossary of Terms” at its beginning and kept me hooked with formal experiment throughout.
CHC: What are three of your favorite poems from BWRs of old, and what about them is it that appeals to you?
KN: Why do I feel like these are mean questions? I’m going to play the same game I played with the last question, which is to reframe this as being about some of my latest favorites. I’m very into, for example, the latest Boyfriend Village (Double Negative BF!) and the poems in it by Jasmine An—”Food Chain” has a haunting combination of visceral and sanitized language that compels me. That’s an example. I am drawn to Joshua Johnston’s collage poems from this recent issue, too. They’re visually weird as one plus, sure, but also I often consider how we push against or lean into the idea that all work comes from other work and these help me with that considering. Isaac Pickell’s “You Only Trust Safe Senders” is combo playful/funny and darkish comment, which is something I’ll be a sucker for forever and ever. Amen.
CHC: Why did you want to become BWR’s poetry editor? What kinds of poems are you hoping to find in the slush?
KN: Power and notoriety? Ummmmm nope. First and foremost because I like to read and wanted to get a real feel for the pulse of the poetic trend right now. Too, I believe in the weird0 mission of BWR, and I believe in publishing poems. Simple as that.
I’m looking for a lot of what I mentioned in the question before this. I’m looking for humor and play and lyricism. I’m looking to be surprised, I’m looking to be taught.
CHC: That portrait of Truth coming out of the well in your call for submissions is terrifying. What draws you to it?
KN: What an ungenerous reading of her! She’s just having a bad day. The funny thing about her is that she was sent to an art history nerd friend by my ex boyfriend randomly one day and we were just laughing about her being sent with no context by someone who, to be honest, really struggles with truth telling and respecting women! Is that funny? Hm. So that’s her genesis, but she haunts me, and I love to be haunted. She makes me think about lore and iteration, versioning (there are many of her), and the mission of poems AND the struggle, sometimes, to produce them.
CHC: What is the scariest thing you can imagine coming out of a well? What about the funniest?
KN: Have you ever seen the movie House (Hausu)? 1977 work of genius. (Criterion.) Some girls are chilling a watermelon in a well and when they go to pull it out their friend’s head has replaced the melon. This is both scary and, I’m sorry to tell you, funny in context. What else?
CHC: What is one thing you’ve never seen in a poem that you want to see?
KN: This is a trick because anything I say exists somewhere and only highlights a gap in my reading. Or, I could say, I’ll know it when I see it!
CHC: How would you describe your own work in five words or less?
KN: I would never, ever do this.
CHC: Is there anything I haven’t asked yet that you want to answer?
KN: No thank you, goodbye.
Kelsey Nuttall is a sad and normal writer/editor whose work has appeared in a few places, but whose most noteworthy accomplishment is that she’s building a dollhouse (well, from a kit).