Make It Weird

Ruben Miranda-Juarez, BMR’s new Fiction Editor, introduces our new Non-Fiction Editor, Cyrus Stuvland

Cyrus and I met through one of our courses at the University of New Mexico. In reflecting on our fledgling relationship, I thought about how grateful I am for being able to find connection in what felt like a year of disconnection. The pandemic experience has exasperated massive inequality, we’ve been able to see certain ideologues for what they are: sycophants. But we also, depending on where one is situated, have been able to experience hope. There have been enclaves of communal support, whether that be your pod mates, mutual aid collectives, or online communities developing throughout the country, throughout the world. There have been opportunities to stay connected and people desperately trying to minimize or mitigate the risks associated with a global pandemic.

As you read through some of the questions I thought out, I want you to know that Cyrus has good taste in clothes, thus good at fashion, and likes to make sure that they match. They’re one of the most creative individuals I know and carry themselves with a humility which makes for many moments of being amazed by their creations. I see Cyrus as a person who is always thinking carefully about their actions, language, and presence, and so it was wonderful to hear about their tastes in nonfiction, poetry, and art.

So, without further ado, here is my conversation with Cyrus (who still drinks IPAs at their age).

What do you look for when it comes to non-fiction?

I look for formal experimentation, hybridity, layers, lyricism, heavily researched, and exploratory non-fiction. I don’t necessarily need too much of a plot, but I need people and places to fly off the page. Mostly, I look for the experience of a writer taking me with them on some sort of quest to learn something about themselves, memory, the world.

What does a piece have to do to move you?

I can’t really predict what will move me. I’ve been strangely fascinated by writing about ice—like, frozen water, not immigration—for like a year now. But I don’t actually think it’s ice, I think it’s some of the writing I’ve read about it, which is just beautiful. So, I guess it has to be beautiful. That’s all I know for sure.

What are some subjects or themes you are curious about?

I feel open to most things in terms of themes or subjects. I think something I’m not particularly interested in in terms of form is more traditional memoir writing, so in order for me to be interested in your childhood memoir, it might need to be about a subject or from a perspective that feels fresh to me. Generally, though, I’m a sucker for writing that emphasizes place and anything queer or trans. I will be looking for pieces from Black, Indigenous, and Latinx perspectives in particular, especially if they are from or about the Southwest.

Who is on your current reading list? And how have they changed or reframed what you think about craft?

Right now, I’m reading a book called Exile and Pride by Eli Clare. It’s about disability, queerness, class, race, and I guess the urban vs. rural divide. It reads like part memoir and part essay and the themes are really helping me think through my own memoir. This summer I’m basically trying to read all of the rural queer things I can get my hands on, which is how I ended up with it. Otherwise, I just finished Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters for fun and because it’s so trans. (I don’t read that many novels these days).

What are pieces from previous issues of BMR you would tell a reader to look into to get a feel for what you are looking for?

I loved “Feast Day: A Lyric” by Tess Fahlgren, which was the winner of last year’s contest. I loved it for its form, which felt so fragmented and experimental and felt like it fit the content so beautifully. In the last issue, I thought “The Bêbeda” by Carmelinda Scian was a beautiful story and I love it when nonfiction takes someone other than the narrator on as the central subject (ostensibly).

Last question, what kind of art would like to see in our future issue?

I’d honestly like to see BMR get a little weirder with artwork. Also, I love collage. Some collage would be awesome.

Ruben Miranda-Juarez