Poets of SMITTEN Interview Series: Hoda Essa

Hoda Abdulqadir Essa is a New Orleans native with roots hailing from East Africa. Hoda is a maker, writer, lover, shapeshifter and soul traveler, searching for heaven or hoping to construct it with her own bare hands.

How does being a poet inform your views on expressing emotions through writing? 

As a poet, I’m consistently working from a place that many people call “emotional intelligence” – in other words, I am dreaming out loud when I open my mouth or put pen to paper. So, for me, being a poet comes with a subtle responsibility to always tell the truth. Poetry is not a soundbite nor is it a news-clip. To me, poetry is the rhythm that lives in each person individually. It’s important to express that and writing is a powerful medium to do so.

When you found out SMITTEN was about women who loved women, without the emphasis on erotica that is usually the case – could you immediately think of ways to express that love through writing? 

Absolutely! My friend and I talk about bringing intimacy to life and to me that is what art is. No one has ever written ballads about an intellectual conversation they’ve had but we pause to capture the gentleness of a lover’s brush against your own skin – to me writing is a way at grasping moments that we ultimately have no language for. The erotic, especially, can be more greatly understood as we wrestle with it on the page.

What does it mean to you to be part of something like SMITTEN and have your work alongside other women who love women? 

To me, this is a declaration of the time’s we are in. Standing together in creativity unity is the most empowered place for many women, myself included. It means to me that I have graduated into a time space reality that is being carved out by the very people writing and experiencing love for and from a woman.

Why is love a worthier subject than erotica to write on? 

To me they’re intermingled. You have to love a moment to be inspired enough to write about it. Erotic writing is being so in love with an intimate moment that you want to recreate it for others. The two are closely related as far as I am concerned.

Have you ever been SMITTEN and if so, do you feel it’s possible to summarize those feelings in poetry? 

I am smitten and often. As often as possible. And I love this word as the title for the anthology (kudos to you all) because that word encompasses how wistful it is allowing oneself to be overtaken by simply being fond of another. I’ve tried my entire life to bottle this feeling and give it to the world so yes! It is absolutely possible to summarize these feels in poetry, until we can market the sensation of course!

Your poem in SMITTEN was excellent, why did you choose this particular poem and what did you hope it would convey to readers?

I chose this poem because I was inspired by a woman who took my breath away. She was beautiful, inspiring, deliciously sad in all the right places and talking to her moved me. We never formally met but my hope in writing “WOMAN” was to zoom in on how explosive this connection was without any physical intimacy. I am not even sure if I felt romantic ideations towards this person up until this day – I just knew that I wanted her inner-flame to be safe. I wrote this poem to honor her fire; to protect it.

SMITTEN is available by ordering it in your Barnes & Noble, purchasing it online at Barnes & Noble or Amazon or asking your independent bookstore to order it via Ingram. SMITTEN is available on Kindle and in print form.

For updates on SMITTEN visit the Facebook SMITTEN page.

This is a huge project of 120 female authors – an anthology that is testimony to the power of love and connection between women. Support SMITTEN by purchasing a copy for someone who supports LGBTQ equality, women or poetry.

 

 

The song of her

white and black mountain
Photo by Nikhlesh Tyagi on Pexels.com

My fantasy was placed in a velvet box,  buried at garden end where the ivy grew heavy

those were the days gone now, or perhaps forgotten, where fantasy was all you had

walking into bars, confronting realities better spared

shadows in corners, leaning, lurching, enveloping, retreating

you did not exist, we did not exist

our images were not part of the collective, the minority, the clique or the open space

wide and tumbling with questions, a loneliness at the core, the petals red

filaments of each others minds like fire flies without dark to make of it light

had you existed then, I would have traveled continents, just to know

feel your long black hair trace my need to be, closer than possible

only books, only songs, only walks on moors with other people’s dogs in tow

I imagined meeting you, what you would say, how we would get to know each other

and somehow shape the magic to follow

but it was only ever like the rain, predictive in falling but without control

impotent magicians we, beseeching the moon her unearthy feminine

pieces of me, pieces of you, strewn in directions not able to connect

I stayed young in getting old and before you know it, you’re no longer there

hunched over youth, abundant in dream, filled with need

chewing the heads off time, gnawing the bones of ancestors who disapprovingly gaze

instead you have learned to bottle your desire that the world create girls who love

from marigolds and pieces of ourselves cast to the wind

put it somewhere you won’t be ridiculed, join the line of other pursuits, a job, a direction, all taking me away from fantasy becoming true

the lines on my face, the fall of my skin, these things that shock and horrify

only remind me of what I once was, bright teeth, shy smile, large heart, empty pockets

how I longed for you to take my mittened hand in yours and

drag me out of myself, let me know you don’t have to fit in with the crowd

to feel love

in petrograph, in Kodak camera moments, in the unmade bed in the corner of my desire

I wanted you before you could put words to desire

I was born alone in my 1 or 2 percent of the world

a girl who loves other girls

yet it wasn’t plural, it feels when I touch it

circular

as everything I did and everything I lost

returns to this moment and winds around my wrist

showing my scars, developing an image in chemicals

of two girls even if they had to wait

after the storm and before the calm

did I mention I would stay here forever if I had to?

It is my wish we could rewind time and begin again when both of us

were new and shining

but such things are not always possible, and fantasy is rarely permitted her turn

in you I find proof of life

miracles, however tired exist in your eyes

they have fine lines like you are ever squinting against the sun

I find myself tracing the shape of you

over and over

until my fingers are numb with joy

maybe born too late, but oh we were born

in this aching world of few and far between

I listened closely and you gave up your song

SMITTEN Poets READ: The Girl Who Always Cries – Crystal Kinistino

 

SMITTEN is coming out late October, 2019 via all good book stores. Published by Indie Blu(e) www.indieblu.net 

Please consider supporting this project of over 120+ talented poets and authors by purchasing a copy of SMITTEN for someone who appreciates beautiful poetry. https://www.facebook.com/SMITTENwomen/

SMITTEN Poets READ: Walking By Hot Topic While Announcing Queerness, or So I Hoped by Kelsey Hontz

 

SMITTEN is coming out late October, 2019 via all good book stores. Published by Indie Blu(e) www.indieblu.net 

Please consider supporting this project of over 120+ talented poets and authors by purchasing a copy of SMITTEN for someone who appreciates beautiful poetry. https://www.facebook.com/SMITTENwomen/

SMITTEN Poets READ: Ephemeris | Morning Senses by Cristina DeSouza

 

SMITTEN is coming out late October, 2019 via all good book stores. Published by Indie Blu(e) www.indieblu.net 

Please consider supporting this project of over 120+ talented poets and authors by purchasing a copy of SMITTEN for someone who appreciates beautiful poetry. https://www.facebook.com/SMITTENwomen/

SMITTEN Poets READ: Friday Karaoke by Kindra M. Austin

 

SMITTEN is coming out late October, 2019 via all good book stores. Published by Indie Blu(e) www.indieblu.net 

Please consider supporting this project of over 120+ talented poets and authors by purchasing a copy of SMITTEN for someone who appreciates beautiful poetry. https://www.facebook.com/SMITTENwomen/

SMITTEN Poets READ: After the Fire – by Kim Harvey

 

SMITTEN is coming out late October, 2019 via all good book stores. Published by Indie Blu(e) www.indieblu.net 

Please consider supporting this project of over 120+ talented poets and authors by purchasing a copy of SMITTEN for someone who appreciates beautiful poetry. https://www.facebook.com/SMITTENwomen/