Map the territory of trauma and survival with poet H. K. Hummel.
On this episode, we speak with Hummel about her 2020 collection Lessons in Breathing Underwater, published by Sundress Publications. Faced with her own battle for survival after childbirth, these poems attempt to understand personal catastrophe by sharing memories of her own recovery in parallel with historical and mythological women who have faced insurmountable challenges.
"Everything Goes Deeper Than You Expect"
You find yourself on life support,
and you have no recollection
of how you got here.
Strangers have fallen in love with you,
fought for you, while you slept.
People look you in the eyes and say,
Do you recognize me?
You want to, good God, you want to.
They rescued you, bathed you, waited for you.
Come back. Become yourself again. Stay still
while they remove the ventilator, the oxygen,
the feeding tube, the catheter and the PICC line.
If you’re lucky, your father holds your hand,
your mother brushes your hair,
your spouse helps you stand again.
The nurse asks, Have you even been drunk?
This is what it will be like.
Life your chin. Look at the horizon.
Recall what exists beyond these walls: the gorgeously
ordinary river city, the elegant regularity of bus schedules,
kingfishers plunging into the muddy channel.
H.K. Hummel is the author of Lessons in Breathing Underwater and the co-author of Short-Form Creative Writing: A Writer's Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury, 2018).
She is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, one of the founding editors of Blood Orange Review, and director of Atelier, a creative editing studio.
She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Southern Maine and an MA in literature from Eastern Washington University.
Her poems have recently appeared in Hudson Review, Museum of Americana, Booth, Terrain.org, and Iron Horse Review.
Music for this episode was created by Little Rock electronica artist Empielle.
Thank you to Stickyz Rock “N" Roll Chicken Shack for keeping music alive and well in Arkansas.
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