"Meaning is the Murder of Process." A Chat With Kyle Harvey, Editor of Fruita Pulp
Fruita Pulp editor Kyle Harvey is passionate about poetry. So much so that he created the online poetry journal Fruita Pulp in 2012 as a place where both new and established writers could feature their work as well as engage in a dialogue about poetics. Since then, the journal has been growing rapidly in both poetry submissions and readership. Talking with him about poetry in general and Fruita Pulp in particular, it’s easy to understand why: Harvey’s enthusiasm is contagious. He graciously agreed to answer some questions for Review Review readers wanting to know more about Kyle Harvey and Fruita Pulp.
Interview by Susan Lemere
Fruita Pulp is fairly new on the literary scene. How would you describe its mission, and what makes it unique?
Yeah, I definitely feel like Fruita Pulp is still pretty new and finding its legs. I only recently brought on some additional editors (Sonya Vatomsky and Sara Sutterlin, as well as a few readers (Ana Prundaru, Larry Narron and Katya Ungerman) to help with the selection process and submission load. Whereas the first few issues were typically half solicited and half unsolicited, lately we’ve been receiving so many submissions that 90% or more of the poems published are unsolicited.
In regards to a mission, I’m embarrassed to say I’m quite a ways behind the curve here. FP was the product of me feeling a sense of urgency to participate more in the world of poetry. It began by me reaching out to a handful of poets I know (Danny Rosen, Jack Mueller, Wendy Videlock, Paul Hanson Clark, etc.), as well as some poets that I admired (Eric Baus, A. Minetta Gould, Ed Skoog, Jeff Alessandrelli, Mathais Svalina, etc.). The idea of offering a platform for work that I admired was really exciting. Somehow it quickly grew.
I want FP to remain stylistically and aesthetically eclectic. I’d like FP to be a relevant platform for discussions regarding poetics to take place. And, perhaps most importantly, I really want Fruita Pulp to be a welcoming and supportive journal for a diverse mix of voices.
I understand that Fruita Pulp has had a really big first year, including a poem being selected for the Best American Poetry Anthology. What have some of the highlights been, and what do you think has contributed to the journal’s success?
Yes! Ed Skoog’s poem, “The Macarena,” was selected by Sherman Alexie to appear in The Best American Poetry Anthology. While that is certainly exciting, I honestly feel like being given the opportunity to publish his (Ed Skoog’s) poems, in the first place, was the real excitement. It’s a great feeling to have such an amazing, established poet take a chance on a smaller journal. And I feel like FP has been fortunate to publish some really amazing poets. That alone is a gift.
Challenge us. Weird us out. But most importantly, be passionate about your writing and spend time with it.
What is your submission review process like, and what kinds of poems are a good fit for Fruita Pulp?
The way the submission review process works now is that all submissions are uploaded into a queue (Google Docs). The submissions are then read and commented on by our editors and readers via a spreadsheet. This allows for some discussion to take place. Each reader and editor compiles a list of their 10 favorite poems/poets from the queue. From there we make selections based on how many times a poem/poet shows up on the list. Sometimes we discuss which poems may fit into the arch of an issue, or why it might be important to include a specific poem. Really, we just try to select the best poems, while maintaining a stylistically and aesthetically diverse issue.
As for the kinds of poems that are a good fit for Fruita Pulp… it’d be easy to be cliché here and say that poets should send us their “best” work, but I feel like that has always been pretty nebulous. Instead I’d encourage poets to send work they are passionate about. Some poems just feel like they are on fire. Some feel forced. Others feel like they are imitating the flavor of the week, which isn’t very compelling unless it really knocks it out of the park. Move us and/or surprise us with a poem. Challenge us. Weird us out. But most importantly, be passionate about your writing and spend time with it.
You’ve been a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. As both poet and editor, how do you define “good poetry”?
I was, I was! It was a neat experience to be recognized for something as generally unrecognized as poetry is. Ugh… good poetry?! Good poetry is such a mysterious, and ultimately subjective, thing.
The poetry that I find most exciting tends to lose itself, and find itself, in the process. It does not start out as a poem about ___________, and if it does, it certainly doesn’t end up a poem about ___________. I guess this is to say that if I want to read about something, I’d rather read prose.
Instead, the poem should obey the emerging form, as Jack Mueller says. The most accurate thing I feel I’ve said is found in a serial poem I’ve been writing, some of which was published recently by Lithic Press as a chapbook, and that is, “don’t ask me what I mean, meaning is the murder of process.”
What are your goals for Fruita Pulp for both the near and distant future?
Most importantly, I’d love to find a way to preserve the poems published on Fruita Pulp. With online journals, the work is often lost when the journal ceases publication. It’s important to me to find a way to leave the artifact long once Fruita Pulp is no longer active.
For now I just want Fruita Pulp to continue publishing amazing poems!
Susan M. Lemere obtained her MFA in Creative Writing from the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College. In her ongoing attempts to squeeze more reading and writing into her day-to-day life as therapist and single mom, she admits to sometimes living vicariously through the dynamic editors she interviews for Review Review.