Editor Interview: Kyra Jee


Ailun Shi joins us as Guest Editor for our ninth issue 'Gibberish'. Read her words of wisdom and learn more about this issue.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

What can readers expect from Sonder?

Whether fictional or nonfictional, many memories are really just stories about other people. The backpacker who stepped off the train two states early. The friends you knew before college. The visiting author who remembered to ask for your name.

To write is to let a memory exist in a new way, through filters like time, context, rhetoric. Sonder will be a collection of characters becoming, for a moment, real.

Why do you believe it’s essential to recognize the experiences of others beyond our own?

It can be easy to see others — strangers, friends, loves — like they’re not quite as real as ourselves: their concerns not as petrifying, their delights not as charming. But they are real. This person has dishes to wash and odd things they think are worth photographing.

Their body breathes and moves and sometimes cries. That vibrant, sometimes visceral, acknowledgment of another person’s humanness can remind us to be kind. To be patient or protective. To value someone else’s hurt and happiness as something that matters.

Describe what made a piece hard to pass up.

A messenger bag exiting the bus swivels back for their kid’s frog umbrella. Your friend finally catches the eye of their plus-one — winks. For Sonder, we’re looking for pieces that peek into vulnerability, curiosity, and humanity. Some wonderful submissions depict moments where the writer’s recognition of somebody’s personhood makes me, the reader, think about those in my own life.

Can you share more about your editing philosophy?

For anyone in the writing world to succeed, we need people to invest in each other’s successes. As an editor, I hope to encourage more joy and precision. 

In my experience, helpful feedback aims to inspire more exploring, not less; it makes you want to write. And revision is a very iterative process — reread, rewrite, and revise your own work!

Who’s a poet, essayist, artist, etc., that you can’t stop reading/following?

Sarah Kay! And Chen Chen! They put so much sound into each line. Their narrators are so personal, so forthright, so compelling. “The Minister of Loneliness” (Kay, 2022) is a warm, intricate, thoughtful poem to live inside. Poems like “Poem in Noisy Mouthfuls” and “I’m not religious but” (Chen Chen, 2017, 2015) are gorgeous reflections about both difficult and delicate things that make us us.

Share a fun fact about yourself.

I started playing D&D last year and love it! Designing characters — especially all the stuff a character has with them — reminds me that there are so many ways to be a storyteller, to worldbuild, to think of language and settings. The adjacent preoccupation, collecting dice, is just inevitable.

Kyra Jee hopes to bring vulnerability, joy, and the em dash to all writerly environments. Kyra has most recently served on the editorial board of Lucky Jefferson, Sapere Aude, and Calliope Art & Literary Magazine.

Read On

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