5Q Interview: Austin Hughes, Creative Writing Major

The Writing University conducts a series of interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the various University of Iowa writing programs. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.

Today we are talking with Austin Hughes, a University of Iowa Junior, double majoring in English (Creative Writing) and Japanese with a minor in Theatre Arts. 

1. Do you have a plan or project in mind for the next semester?

I have two projects gestating in my mind currently, the first of which is a poetry collection I think I'll write for my English Honors thesis. On the other hand, I'm also very intrigued by the way the Japanese people and their art entered the pre-Modern Western imagination. I've been looking into the artistic exchange between Japan and the West, and I'm expecting to also write a thesis probing an interesting moment of this, specifically a moment which occurs before American and Japanese Modernism. I'm not too sure of the exact subject currently, but I'm definitely narrowing it down.

2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine?

Well, I definitely don't write everyday, but I certainly think about writing everyday. For me, I find going away from poetry in particular for days or weeks usually yields an interesting turn or revision in my work. I tried writing everyday over the summer and there was something hindering about it for me. As for a specific time of day, I usually find myself writing at night. Again, I've tried writing in the morning, but with little results.

3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?

I'm always reading Sylvia Plath at this point, so I don't know if I could say I'm ever not reading her. Otherwise, I'm reading Earl Miner's The Japanese Tradition in British and American Literature which I think is both for research and pleasure. I'm very much a lover of big ideas. I'm also reading Eliot's Quartets which once again blurs the line between research and pleasure.

4. What is something the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and your work?

This is a difficult question simply because in my mind I barely have any "work". I've only been writing poetry for less than a year, and I only just discovered a serious research interest. In terms of my poetry, however, I have a certain working theory as to what I'm concerned with. Besides form and syllabics, I'm very interested in the detriment of imagination and how it impacts the very real experience of life. I think imagination is viewed as a benign escape from reality, as something necessary and to be fostered, but I like to think it comes with even more emotionally charged stakes and restraints as it contends with and in some cases amends the real world. In short, it's dangerous, and all of my poetry deals with this idea in varying degrees, I think. But I am young, so I look forward to my inevitable poetic evolution.

5. Tell us a bit about where you are from -- what are some favorite details you would like to share with us about your home?

I am from Arlington, Texas, which is the largest city in America without public transportation. It has some of the best schools in Texas, I think, and so I'm very privileged to have grown up there. It definitely has a special place in my heart despite my never wanting to live there again.

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Austin Hughes is currently a University of Iowa Junior double majoring in English (Creative Writing) and Japanese with a minor in Theatre Arts. He is from good ole Arlington, Texas, but loves Iowa City a bit more! After undergraduate study, Austin hopes to pursue an MA in Japanese and a Ph.D. in English Literature with an MFA in Creative Writing somewhere along the way.