Kenneth P. Gurney. Tells us how you started in poetry? What age?
Kyle Flak: Poetry is the joy of singing, the joy of dreaming, the joy of experimenting with language. All young children are great poets. I remember playing on my dad’s typewriter as a tiny kid, I remember singing weird made up songs on a toy rocking boat in the backyard with my sister, Cheryl Trosley. I believe poetry begins in the womb. Maybe I am crazy.
KPG. What is your favorite breakfast?
KF: I know that sugar and grains are being criticized these days, but I really really love cereal. Raisin bran is so exciting to me. Maybe because sugar is a stimulating drug and those raisins are always covered in about thirty five pounds of crunchy sugar????
KPG. Does your university degree influence your writing of poetry and how?
KF: I hope not. I hope I am doing everything the wrong way. I prefer the kind of poetry that comes from my child self or caveman self or party animal self. I am mainly in love with trees, birds, puppies, taking long walks, etc. The best poem in the world is just an ordinary dog howling at the moon. Poetry School should just be hanging out with puppies or trees or wild children at recess.
KPG. Is there any endeavor that you are passionate about outside of poetry? How does it enrich you?
KF: I love playing Fender Stratocaster guitars. Leo Fender is my hero. Sometimes I wonder if my favorite poem is Buddy Holly just strumming a few ordinary basic chords very emotionally during the song “Peggy Sue.”
KPG. Tell about one of your favorite poetry experiences.
KF: Reading one of my favorite Matt Margo poems out loud to Matt Margo at a bar that had skee ball machines in it. I had been a huge fan of Matt’s chapbook, Blueberry Lemonade, for months and then when I finally met Matt, I showed them my copy (all full of notes and underlinings and “yee-haws!” etc.) I kept trying to persuade everyone we met that Matt’s chapbook was awesome, so I read stuff out loud and it was fun.
KPG. Do you have a connection to the American Civil War? Relative who served? Visited a battlefield and have a story?
KF: I was once at the Lincoln Memorial on Lincoln’s birthday, very early in the morning. I almost cried while reading all the pretty stuff that guy wrote. I also love Walt Whitman and admire him very much for visiting with injured soldiers.
KPG. If you could wave a magic wand and place a poetry book into every high school english classroom as required reading, which one would it be and why?
KF: I guess I always come back to Leaves of Grass as the main book of poetry. Maybe because it contains everything. Maybe because it is wild and for everybody.
KPG. Where was your last selfie taken? With anyone?
KF: I keep meaning to take more photos, but rarely get around to actually taking any. I think the last significant photo I took was of my friend holding a narwhal stuffed animal at a comic book store.
KPG. Recommend a poetry (or literary) website that you frequent.
KPG. What is your favorite National Park? Why?
KPG. Please tell about a dream that you work toward achieving at this time.
KF: I hope to become a tree. They are calm, peaceful, good, and inspiring.
KPG. If there is a little known poet you think everyone should read, who is that poet and suggest one book of theirs we should purchase?
KF: Matt Margo’s Blueberry Lemonade! Bottlecap Press! It’s been in my backpack as my main “take along book” for about five months now. It’s fun, friendly, sincere, intimate, and good. My previous secret favorite was Bicycles, Canoes, Drums by Dan Sklar. I love that one, too, for being fearless. Dan Sklar does whatever he wants to and has fun doing it. Mostly, I like books that are fun and friendly, I guess.
KPG. If you could be present at any moment in history as a safe observer or unsafe participant, what event would you visit and why?
KF: I’d just dance like a madman at an early Beatles concert in Liverpool, around 1962 or 1963. I love all those early love songs, like “Do You Want to Know a Secret” and “Please Please Me,” etc.
KPG. What reoccurring themes or personal experience have you noticed in your poetry over the years?
KF: Is it wrong to still love Dead Poet’s Society? I think that creepily whispering “seize the day, boys. make your lives extraordinary!” is still the main job for a poet, I guess. And so I do that. We are all going to die!!!!!!! So: live and love while you can, etc.
KPG. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, or some other sweet?
KF: Dark chocolate wins with me. Sometimes I start my day with just a bowl of chocolate chips. How weird.