Emily’s first collection of poems, Sugar Factory, including a series of twelve new acrylic paintings by Sarah Riggs in collaboration with Emily’s poetry, and a co-written essay in two colors by the poet and artist about their collaboration, was published in January 2019 by legendary small press Spuyten Duyvil. Order a copy here, or find it at your local bookstore or library.
“These poems make me so glad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a charming use of the exclamation point. And there is such a vastness to these little poems — the way Joanne Kyger or Larry Eigner were able to write like brushstrokes — Emily Wallis Hughes lives fully, sensually in the natural world, in the city, and in a family’s past. You will feel so at home in these poems; they are a tonic.” – Matthew Rohrer
“Sugar Factory glows with a glorious haunting, dwelling deep inside the language of listening and attention. Ancestors, predecessors, and material textures transmit in exclamatory abundance the anxiety of time passing. Lines such as “your green stays green” and “how am I?/ to end this poem” beautifully capture an attempt to hold on to fleeting impermanence. The book delights in expectancy as it flows effortlessly from generation to generation, across continents, and makes a gift of embodiment to each of its varied speakers allowing for the ecstatic possibility to “leave one’s body and return.” Reading Sugar Factory one is struck simultaneously by the resilience and slippage of memory as it weaves in and out of fragmented storytelling while also asking: what is it that this telling gets done, what of memory’s remains does one have to contend with, and what is it to speak towards someone who is no longer alive. As “This I” continues to shift and redefine itself, the reader soaks in the pleasure of being a ready recipient moving both towards specific familial pasts and a dreamlike unreality as each environment evoked leaves a trail of meditative intimacy.” – Anna Gurton-Wachter
“Like Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” Hughes’s Sugar Factory is a laud for the land, a deep song of praise for the ecstasy in the ordinary. Riding the train, peeling fruit, contemplating streaks of color—here we find everyday encounters opening doorways to memory, both intimate and ancestral. The result is a quietly fierce collection of poems that spans coasts and continents as it boldly “carries the voices of the living/and the dead.”’ – Patricia Killelea
“Emily Wallis Hughes’s poems are an absolute joy to read. As a fellow poet—and a fellow Californian—I greatly admire her keen ability to evoke a sense of place. She has that essential gift of making one feel totally immersed in the world of her poems—and of conjuring in the reader a sense of delicious and aching nostalgia for things not in the reader’s experience. With its light touch and its exceptional range of techniques, voices, and registers, Sugar Factory is a treasure.” – Geoffrey Nutter
Read critic Greg Bem’s review of Sugar Factory in Yellow Rabbits here.