“An evolution of poetry from the beginning stages of expression to a deeper exploration of our relationship with the world. Rooted in nature and often inspired by love, Hayli takes us through her journey of creative vulnerability and what it means to finally emerge the woman, adventurer, and poet she always hoped she would become.”
Shortly after Jimmy’s death, August 2018, I catapult myself into four months of extended travels in an attempt to make sense of the shambles my life was in.
The trip became a full circle journey reminiscent of my travels in 2o15, reconnecting with friends and lost loves along the way. I felt like I was collecting the pieces I left behind (in an attempt to keep who I was safe) while I navigated the healing required after my assault in Cambodia. It all culminated in a six-day trek into the Sumatran rainforest which birthed the wild woman I almost lost sight of entirely. I emerged more grounded and more aligned in my dreams and values than ever before. It was a point of no return in the journey and a fierce pursuit of the stories and poems still unwritten.
One night in October near the end of my trip, I’m sitting in a bar in Inle Lake, Myanmar when a new friend came over to where I was writing. It wasn’t anything in particular, but I read a few lines to him out loud. He looked at me when I finished and said, “I’ve never met a poet before.”
A poet was the furthest thing I considered myself to be, but the only thing I ever wanted to become.
How a perfect stranger could recognize this in a fleeting encounter sparked something within me that was long idle. The last time someone said those words to me was Jimmy. And the time before that, my high school English teacher, Carrie Baris. I knew the young poet still lived somewhere inside—I just needed to unearth her from the trauma and unleash the voice she believed was lost.
I returned home to Ireland in December, prepared to navigate divorce, and turned to the spoken word community for healing. My first spoken word poem was titled Jimmy and it launched me forward in more ways that could only be seen in hindsight. On January 21, 2019, two weeks after my first reading, I was asked to feature at the International Bar in Dublin, Ireland alongside some of the most talented musicians and poets in the community.
By the first week of February, we abruptly ended our life in Ireland and travelled back to the US to navigate divorce. I returned home to San Diego determined to use the flames of a burned-down life to ignite the next wave of dreams. I found journals upon journals of musings, but it was a leather poetry journal from high school with notes from Carrie and Jimmy inside that set the journey of self-publishing Emergence into motion.
It took seven days to type up every poem, track down more recent work, sort them in a way that felt like a journey through time and bring them into a completed manuscript. I crowdsourced my Instagram community and used their votes to fill the pages with images from my travels. By the time I left for the Camino in April, I had a book proof printed from Blurb with every intention of planning an intimate self-published release with my cherished community of family and friends upon my return from my travels.