MC Hyland

Essay on Lady Macbeth

I believed that sleep was the key, but also that the play showed the problem of women’s speech. The season of what nature? I asked if she needed a minute, re-entered the room in which one boy played a video game and another searched online for a free PDF of Walter Benjamin’s Trauerspiel book. I said the sovereign after the reformation presents the problem of newly absolute power. My breasts suddenly too present beneath my dress. The long season: a stretch of time in which the body and the mind rested. The other music, I said, is triumphal. How to hold so many words inside a self? Though I loved my husband, my most erotic relation was to the dead playwright’s words, opening endlessly out of free desk-copy paperbacks. Time in the codex. I was struggling to find the form that could light my language from within. I began many notebooks; set most down a few pages in. What could words of my own do as I swam towards the surface of a market that wished to break me of all earlier shapes? I knew I had become dull outside these two rooms, each lit entirely by manmade light.

Essay on Last Things

In May 1824, Mary Shelley wrote in her diary: The last man! Yes I may well describe that solitary being’s feelings, feeling myself as the last relic of a beloved race, my companions, extinct before me— Her sister, husband, friends: all people of the grave. Mary the relic, like a saint’s finger bone. Lifeless, dust-gathering, potent with soul that once moved through. 

Which things are the last things? For the Christians there are death and judgement and two more they can’t agree on. Maybe your last thing is a small glass bottle with chipped stopper or a paperback curled by bathwater. The photos that did not fuse together, glossy front to smooth back, over the heat of many summers. The red couch and over it, the painting of the sea. 

Two weeks after Anna’s death I scroll through facebook photos trying to remember her tattoo: was it on the right arm or the left? An orange star, for the song she wrote and named the cafe after. In the last week of her life, I put on the brown shirt reading The North Star Music Café in her handwriting, and low down on the back Find your way home. Someone will ask a local screen printer to make more of the shirt, and in this way this last thing will become simply a thing.


MC Hyland (she/they) is the founding editor of DoubleCross Press, a poetry micropress. She is the author of two full-length books of poems: THE END (Sidebrow 2019) and Neveragainland (Lowbrow Press 2010); and over a dozen poetry chapbooks/artist books. Holding MFAs in Creative Writing and Book Arts from the University of Alabama and a PhD in English Literature from NYU, MC teaches undergraduate creative writing, literature, and artist book classes at NYU as a contingent faculty member. She was a staff member at Minnesota Center for Book Arts from 2009-2012, where she designed MCBA’s certificate programs for adult learners, and she now directs the online Creative Publishing Seminar at the Center for Book Arts (NYC).