Interview with Kin Poetry Journal
Interview by Sebastian H. Paramo
Can you tell us about the name Kin?
Eric Norris, one of the three founding editors, came up with the name Kin. We really wanted a one-syllable, an easy to remember name that reflected our international ethos.
As he tells the story, he was at Equinox Gym on 63rd and Lex in New York City, spinning his bathing suit in the spin dryer and reviewing his Japanese vocabulary in his head when he came to the word: きん, or “kin”. In Japanese this can mean gold as in "money” or “fungus” as in “gross”. In English, of course, “kin” refers to one’s relations, who may at times seem more gold than fungus, and contrariwise. In Chinese, 'kin" means zither, and in Thai, "kin" is the verb to eat. And so, in a portmanteau, Alice in Wonderland sort of way, Kin seemed a natural fit.
Why did you decide to start Kin?
We decided to start Kin because we wanted to bring more international writers into the American poetry scene. When people in America think of poetry in English, they tend to think American or British. This is something we hope to correct. We want them to think also Singaporean, African, Indian, Caribbean, and Australian. But this is only an intermediate step. We really want them to think of the poets as individuals who share the hopes and dreams, faults and aspirations of people everywhere. The planet already possesses enough shady legislators, both acknowledged and unacknowledged. We need more citizens. Concerned citizens, to be sure, but also ordinary citizens: those throwing birthday parties, those attending festivals, those serving time in jail, and especially those writing dangerous words like “I love you” in secret. Voices from all walks of life from every corner of the globe.
You publish poetry as well as audio recordings of poems, could you talk about the importance of listening to poetry from the author?
We feel it is important to hear a poem spoken in the voice of the poet. There are nuances of emotion, forms of pacing and local and regional accents that give the poem a kind of geographical reality in space and time that only the poet himself or herself can project. This is not to suggest that the voice of the poet is the only voice we should hear in the poem. If a poem is successful, readers will hear their own voices there, too, even when hearing the poem read by an actor or reading the poem in silence.
What kind of work are you guys looking to publish?
We are looking, first and foremost, for what piques our interest. Four of us are in charge of editorial decisions, and we each have our own likes and dislikes. The thing that binds us together and helps make Kin work is a love of “craft”. We look for shapely sonnets, a well-turned musical phrase, a flight of fancy, an arresting image that takes us from point A to point Ω, those rich lands of human experience that lie beyond the horizon of ourselves.
What's your literary background and how does that inform your editing of Kin?
Our literary backgrounds are various. We have French speakers, Japanese speakers, Chinese (Toisanse) speakers, Spanish speakers, Igbo speakers, Latin and Classical Greek lovers, and even one specialist in the very unique dialect of English created by Lewis Carroll. Our tastes as editors reflect the depth and breadth of all our collective reading.
Could you recommend a few of your must-read literary magazines on your book/virtual shelf and why readers should be reading them?
Softblow, PN Review, Angle, The Rumpus, The Raintown Review, The Flea, Assaracus, Glitterwolf, Asymptote, Vinyl, Quarterly Literary Review of Singapore, Cordite Poetry Review, Cha, Asia Literary Review, Lantern Review, The Nervous Breakdown, New Walk, The New Criterion, New England Review, Boxcar Review, Tinderbox. These are only a few. We believe that readers should read poetry from across the spectrum of languages, cultures, and political points of view. What matters in the end is the poetry, only the poetry, if it speaks to something in us.
What is a day-in-the-life like for the editors of Kin?
As with most editors and poets these days, the editors of Kin all have day jobs that are as diverse as our literary backgrounds. We have in our ranks a law librarian, a computer engineer and entrepreneur, a sociology instructor, and a flaneur. And between the four of us, we have six children, two spouses, one boyfriend, and one poltergeist of indeterminate sex. Geographically, as well as genetically, we are also diverse. We span the nation with representatives in NYC, Boulder, CO, and Portland, OR. We have established clandestine poetry outposts in other countries as well. We conduct our secret meetings weekly via Skype.
Where do you see Kin in the future?
We would like to see the readership of Kin grow, especially on the international scene. We would like to begin a series of annual Kin anthologies that assemble poets from around the world. We would like to establish a "Kin Poetry Manuscript Prize" that is open to international participation. Perhaps our greatest ambition is to see other efforts like Kin in other languages: a network of interconnected poetic communities, where poets translate each other, learn from each other, encourage each other, and talk to each other, of course. But, most importantly, where poetry talks to the world.
These are our ambitions. Whether we succeed or fail is not important. What matters is that we try.