Luther Hughes’ You Smell Like Outside: A Cute Little Syllabus for December
“You Smell Like Outside” is Luther Hughes’ wonderful column for Frontier where he seeks to answer the question every month: can poetry help us with our real, day-to-day life? For December, Luther’s continuing his series, A Cute Little Syllabus—a new cannon featuring works by poets of color. With each syllabus comes a prompt and exercise, which you can submit here. Luther will select and publish one of your poems with each new Syllabus!
REACHING FOR JOY
Writing about joy: Poetry is not always about trauma or violence, though that is what makes us human. Poetry is also about happiness, joy, and triumph, and sometimes we forget these, too, makes us human. What gives you joy, brings you happiness?
- won’t you celebrate with me by Lucille Clifton
- For Estefani Lora, Third Grade, Who Made Me A Card by Aracelis Girmay
- Instructions on Not Giving Up by Ada Limón
- It Was Like This: You Were Happy by Jane Hirshfield
The infamous, “won’t you celebrate with me,” by Clifton, seamlessly celebrates living another day despite what has tried to kill them. I ask you, what has tried to kill you, not just physically, but mentally? What are some one your struggles and how have you gotten past them? How did you celebrate your triumph. In 10 lines or less, write about triumph. Submit your creation here!
Lue’s selected poem for November:
O, the olive mouth. The belly full
of potatoes. The skin runs deep,
if I ever knew depth. This year
is our year. I like how I can announce to my parents
at supper the way I embarrassingly injured
my vagina. All night long
unslippered feet on eggshells. We
yield dynamite in the garden –
still it always tastes like sugar snap
peas. I am green here. Tiny
ears of corn push for attention, their hair
like mother, daughter, daughter, golden.
That story: from nowhere else,
but could we be from an elsewhere
light-lousy rolling field
as the cats stray in from
unlumbered woods, tick full and feral
veined. Where we buried the past ones
and I hope to be, too; the share
in the soil. What to appraise
the pavement he laid, the glazed pots
from France she hung.
A priceless place
to carve in one’s name. I’ll praise
and I’ll praise.
Evana Bodiker is a poetry MFA candidate at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work appears in Tin House Online, The Sonora Review, LEVELER, and elsewhere. Evana’s chapbook EPHEMERA won the Robert Phillips Chapbook prize and was published by Texas Review Press in 2018. She lives in Iowa City, IA and North Carolina.
Written in response to November’s “Home” Prompt:
- Think of an artifact that reminds you of the city you were born in
- Describe the artifact in great detail in a list
- Color, size, smell, taste, etc.
- Take this list and move to another room
- List things in the room that resemble this artifact
- Take both lists outside
- What do you see? Hear? Smell?
- List things outside that resemble this artifact
- Write a poem while outside defining “home” using the artifact and the two things that resemble the artifact
- The title must be the name of the city you currently live in
- Must include at least 2 colors
- Must include the word “home”
- Must be in 3 sections
Luther Hughes is a Seattle native and author of Touched (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2018). He is the Founding Editor in Chief of The Shade Journal, Executive Editor for The Offing, and Editor-at-Large of Frontier Poetry. A Cave Canem fellow, his work has been published or is forthcoming in various journals including, Hayden’s Ferry Review, New England Review, TriQuartlery, Four Way Review, and others. Luther received his MFA from Washington University in St. Louis. You can follow him on Twitter @lutherxhughes. He thinks you are beautiful.