Austin Hughes

We are delighted to present Austin Hughes's poem "Similes," winner of the inaugural David Hamilton Undergraduate Creative Writing Prize. This prize is sponsored by anonymous donors who wish to honor the mentorship and support they and other students at the University of Iowa received from Emeritus Professor of English David Hamilton. In addition to publication online, Hughes will will be awarded a $500 scholarship.


I’m like a riddle in nine sylla-
bles—like some bullet train derailed and 

akimbo, I’m like a skinny sea-
horse so gravid with grief and with salt- 

water—a backward seahorse—or e-
ven like some sunk soufflé—too much heat 

or moisture or air; or perhaps I’m
just as Adam’s other, far less fruit- 

ful bones: a digit, vertebrae, or
even his skull—then again, maybe 

like a melon smashed open and oo-
zing red—maybe more like the yellow 

male flowers that open up and die—
to make room for those real melons; I 

could be just like an elephant cowed
by nature into a hush, but that’s 

not quite right—I’m more like shooting kids—
during some gloam, groaning and coping.


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! He serves as a co-president of the English Department's English Society and an associate peer leader of the Iowa Edge Program—a summer bridge program for incoming students of underrepresented communities. After undergraduate study, Austin hopes to pursue an MA in Japanese and a PhD in English Literature with an MFA in Creative Writing somewhere along the way . . .