In the guest room: M.G. Hughes

Bringing the gift of plant life to my guest room this month is poet and author M.G. Hughes. Her poetry is both rooted and ethereal. It carries heritage and a sense of the uncanny. It is no surprise to me that she has just released a beautiful first collection with Thought Catalog.


if i were
to crack the
last day of the month
to crack it like
the last egg in the refrigerator
the gold and white would mix
the shells would be added to
a raised bed and used for fertilizer
and if i were
to let those seeds sit
to let them green and groove like
they’re chameleon and know no blues
i can bet you a poem as wide as
tomorrow will unfurl by the last day of fall

(hair appreciation poem)

the mimosa honey
i put in my hair will
grow blue flowers there
and then those flowers
come autumn will fall like
the rain of your pepper clouds

when i detangle
i pull from my comb
those pretty and curled sky blue petals
when i make that part in the middle
i think of those old black rubber bands and
summers so hot the concrete could just laugh (cry)

Three questions to M.G.

What does reading/writing poetry do for you?

Poetry is a lot like therapy to me. Once I’m done reading it I often find myself leaving with another lens into myself, my state of being, and the world around me. And when I’m writing poetry I’m naturally forced to think again of what I think I know.

What should we know about you that will help us understand your work?

I’m a Fantasy and Science Fiction writer at heart. In terms of fiction, I love using the genre as a way to explore, challenge, and exaggerate (artistically) what’s real.

When it comes to poetry I often find it unavoidable to incorporate big or little notes of Magical Realism and Fantasy. When I try to write more “straightforward” poems I tend to feel less in love with them.

So if a flower is truthfully red, for example, I can’t help but want to make it feel like glass or black in color. Reading other works that incorporate similar imagery techniques really excite me; and I think, in the end, the strangeness can also inspire the reader to remember that line.

Because the sound of picking black or even glass flowers carries a heavier symbolism; and since it’s not naturally occuring, or possible, the mind longs to know more about them–even if they’re not the main focus.

What brought you joy this week?

Presence. I’ve been teaching myself to take note of one or two positive things in my life at least every other day. When I started practicing this I realized that things like joy and happiness (for me) can be as simple as watching the rain, or being in good health, drinking tea or coffee in the morning.

In the guest room: Sean Tierney

The second artist to visit this guest space is poet and solar etched mono print maker Sean Tierney. When I engage with Sean’s work, the world’s spinning slows and it helps me to find a space of both quiet reflection and crystal clarity.


SAME OLD QUIET

My two hands beg a bird for
song but can only carry the tune
so far – to the tree line, bombing like
a waiter with a bowl of soup, knowing if
I drop it I’ve only the quiet of the house
to return to

the same old quiet

it turns
me inside out
and I don’t trust
even the floor to hold
me in that state

Three questions to Sean

What does reading/writing poetry do for you?


This is something I was thinking about recently when a friend pulled a 2011 anthology from my shelf containing a handful of old poems I wrote while living in Vermont. I was embarrassed when he read them out loud because of how simple and silly they were, but it got me talking about the poetry that was influencing me at that time. Mainly Richard Brautigan, but also a lot of Japanese writers like Santoka Taneda and Ikkyu. Poems that never took themselves too seriously, about subject matter so small it turned the volume down on everything else.


I also recalled a Thich Nhat Hanh book my mother had when I was a kid. I don’t remember the title, but I would return to that book whenever I felt anxious or overwhelmed. Stories about washing the dishes with mindfulness, preparing food, walking in the woods, etc. The small things we do every day and never ever consider to be miracles.


I realized then that this Thich Nhat Hanh book was a big influence on the types of writers and poets I would seek out later in life. I am still to this day looking for poems that turn the volume up on the little things and down on the big ones. Because poetry is a meditation for me. A grounding ritual. A deep, slow breath when my mind is gasping for air.


What should we know about you that will help us understand your work?


It’s no fun to admit, but anxiety and loneliness are a large part of my life. I’ve had more panic attacks than I care to admit and the only thing that truly calms my nerves is reading and writing poetry. Completing a poem I’m proud of gives me a sense of purpose and belonging I can’t find at work or anywhere else.


I’ve always had a lot of trouble communicating and poetry/art is where I can say what I really mean to say and you won’t hear it until it’s ready to be said. (Except for my 2011 poems… they weren’t ready haha.) Poetry has always been a form of long-distance communication. I can communicate with poets who have been dead for years, some hundreds of years, just by flipping through the pages of a book. Those conversations transform my life, right here and now.


And of course, the long-distance thing is quite literal now that most poets are sharing their work on the internet. We’re calling lots of random numbers and hoping someone answers.


What brought you joy this week?


When a fellow poet and artist living in a country I’ve never even visited showed enough interest in my poetry to want to know more about me… Also, I drank a beer on the beach yesterday. Under the shade of a palm tree. There were crows stealing people’s food and retreating to my palm tree. They didn’t work for me, but I pretended that they did.

In the guest room: Uchechukwu Nwafor

I have built a cozy annex to my little corner of the web. It will house some of my favourite poets from the Instagram poetry community. These poets inspire me every day, and I hope that they will inspire you too.


The first poet to sojourn in my little guest room is a poet who has also become a dear friend, Uchechukwu Nwafor. I have asked him three questions and you can read his answers below. But first, two stunning poems:

Three questions to Uche

What does reading/writing poetry do for you?

art has always been about enlivening the senses. personally, it’s a passageway & the destination for a higher thought level. poetry is no different, whether i’m reading or writing, i’m always flooded with a sense of self-awareness. a moment is frozen in time (one that i can always revisit) & that has a way of shaping my past, present & future; it changes how i’ve seen things, how i see it & how i’ll see it. reading poetry allows room for me to be satiated with the thought that others feel the same way as i do, that i’m not alone. it’s only a matter of who bleeds it on paper first. rumi said it best, “inspirations aren’t from us, but descend upon us. and if not expressed through one, it finds another”. writing is more than an expression, it’s the sustenance & preservation of life as we know it. 

What should we know about you that will help us understand your work?

i grew up in a religious family & coupled with the human inquisition to ‘see’ more than the physical, my writings gravitate towards the divine. i love to observe creation so nature is a must-have, must-feature facet of my writing. being a tailor/fashion designer has affected my writing greatly, even though i started wielding a pen before i knew how to wield a needle, both rub off on each other in the most artful way. i’m a huge fan of rap lyricism, the puns, the metaphors, the wordplay, the imagery winged on the human voice most especially to create a positive impact on the listener is a source of great inspiration. poetical lyrics move me. 

What brought you joy this week?

ahh, some question! i read poetry every day, from any source i can find, and two poems really stuck out to me; “window” by Forough Farrokhzad & Tracie Morris’ ”401 requiem”. having their words flip a switch was more than a joyful moment, it was an experience i’ll not quickly forget.

Find Uche on Instagram: @notesfromhim