Five Things with Luther Hughes
1. The last thing that made you smile.
The last thing that made me smile was a text from a man who said he’d always be down to read one of my poems. And considering I don’t really share my poems with anybody outside of school settings and my mentor, that made me feel special. And added a tiny grain of sugar to my ego.
2. A secret.
I’m lowkey in love with the show Modern Family. I don’t care what anybody has to say to me, the show is hilarious. My ex got me hooked on it and I can’t turn away. I also love The Big Bang Theory, but we don’t have to talk about that.
3. The last thing you wrote.
I just wrote a poem called, “Augmentation,” about earthquakes, Michael Jackson, and my father for workshop.
4. Favourite city.
My favorite city will always be Seattle. That’s home and I will always love home. Other than Seattle, it would be Chicago. I spent my undergrad years there and that city raised me in so many ways. I owe a lot of my growth as a poet to that city.
5. What you’d place in a time capsule.
I’d probably place one of my notebooks in a time capsule. If not a notebook, then my current flash drive. Someone needs to get these words. Haha! No but seriously, I would place my favorite book, Boy with Thorn by Rickey Laurentiis in there. That book changed my entire little life and has helped my poetry in so many ways it’s literally crazy.
Luther Hughes is a Seattle native, but is currently an MFA candidate in the Writing Program at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Shade Journal and Associate Poetry Editor for The Offing. Winner of the Brutal Nation Poetry Prize and Windy City Times Chicago, 30 Under 30 Honoree, Luther’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review, Vinyl, NAILED, Solstice Literary Magazine, and others. He thinks you are beautiful.
If you would like to be considered for the ‘Five Things’ series, email your answers to:
poetry from Eloisa Amezcua
“of his cab I sing along / accentless”
Anything but blank, this short but affecting poem is seamless in its presentation and tone. The beauty of this piece is in its enjambments—how each line stands alone and is ultimately connected as a whole. Without end-stops, there’s freedom of interpretation for each space, each pause between words. The form is a broken sonnet, one relying on visual space and transition for impact. The sounds are also gorgeous; there’s a lilt and softness of “rubia” and “güera” to the crackling of “blanca” and “muñeca”. You don’t need to be fluent in Spanish to understand the speaker’s relationship with her parents, to be part of this mundane and yet precious moment.
Visit Foundry to read the poem.
Contributing Editor / Hannah Cohen
Things Olivia Would Like to Avoid (If Possible)
fiction from Jennifer Yu
Jennifer Yu’s flash fiction is a short list of unpleasantness. Each item is an intricate examination nuanced social interaction and the tense unpleasantness that can occur in such small moments. Something as simple as walking at a speed that will intersect your path with a stranger’s; lingering the right amount of time before shopkeepers are compelled to harass you; the power dynamics of waiting in line to place a cheeseburger order. O’s list of things will surprise you with their simplicity and their precision by giving voice to the crushing formless anxiety we feel negotiating public spaces and social rules. It feels almost too revealing, too close to home. Which is what makes it worth the read.
Visit Storm Cellar to read the story.
Contributing Editor / Reneé Bibby
Self-Portrait as So Much Potential
poetry from Chen Chen
“Realizing I hate the word ‘sip.’
But that’s all I do.
I drink. So slowly.
& say I’m tasting it. When I’m just bad at taking in liquid.”
The distance between what you had imagined yourself to be and who you are comes to a tangled crossroads in this poem by Chen Chen. Weaving in the struggles of maneuvering distinctly Asian American expectations with the desire to be more, to become more. This poem is an exercise in taking inventory, not in reinvention or transformation, but in existing in a single moment. In being certain of your edges, your own ever-shifting boundaries, and all the places you could go. Will go.
Self-portrait as a still life with fruit. Self-portrait as image out of frame, as all the bright, wide things we will do one day.
Visit The New York Times Magazine to read the poem.
Contributing Editor / Joyce Chong
Toward a Poetics of Phantom Limb Or, All the Shadows That Carry Us
work from Jennifer S. Cheng
“I map the ghosts; the ghosts map me.”
There aren’t a lot of available terms to describe the experience of Jennifer S. Cheng’s piece in the current issue of Territory. You click on the numbers that adorn an image of a body mapped out for acupuncture and up pop boxes of text that are in conversation with the image as well as with multiple of other narratives: the body, ancestry, home, memory.
We frequently look to the body as a vessel of evidence, but Cheng is interested in absence, in what isn’t there anymore and the memory left behind.
“For I have written about the strange ambiguous homesickness I have known in the hollow cavity of my stomach every now and then since childhood.”
Throughout, Cheng references texts from other authors as well as herself, emphasizing how the art we consume and the art we create are vital parts of our personal trajectories, “our hidden histories at hand.”
While this work is deeply personal, it offers a full and vital dimension of inquiry, a re-looking at the body and its place in time and space, of how the body holds on and lets go, of how memory is imprinted, how memory exists in both a presence and an absence, a sort of matter and anti-matter simultaneously.
Visit Territory to read the piece.
Contributing Editor / Andrew Sargus Klein
nonfiction from Joseph Han & Yiyun Li
This past week, as spring loomed, a moment passed. A moment stilled. There was, in the midst of sunshine, a fleeting snowfall. Maybe more powerful but just as welcome.
During the week, like many weeks, there was poetry. Countless poems in emails, in journals, in books. But like the brief snowfall, there were a few great pieces of nonfiction, not necessarily new, but newly discovered.
So this list begins with upcoming wildness contributor Joseph Han’s essay in Entropy titled ‘Why I’m North Korean’ and ends just as quickly with Yiyun Li’s article in The New Yorker, ‘To Speak is to Blunder’.
Both wonderful, familial, thought-provoking reads that I hope, like the momentary snowfall, you’ll be glad you witnessed.
Journal Editor / Michelle Tudor