Words & Music: A guest post from Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

Today, Erin Al-Mehairi stop by with an excellent guest post on poetry and music. I’m a little late to the party with regard to reading poetry, but the darker works I’m reading are resonating strongly with me. This post is split into two parts, the first of which you can read below and the second you can read over at the excellent Horror Talk.

Thanks to Erin for taking the time to write this great piece and for allowing me to share it with my readers. I hope you enjoy.



Songwriters Who Bring the Poetry:
PART 1: Why If You Like Music, You Should Like Poetry Too!

By Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, author of Breathe. Breathe.

When I began telling people decades ago I wrote poetry, until even now, when I’ve published poetry, getting others to read it was almost like asking them to let me give them a root canal. On the latter, I’m not even talking about people who don’t normally like reading, music, art or even writing themselves, but even groups of creatives! It really got me deep thinking into why and how, as a poet, I could change the perception and the narrative. Part of it maybe had to do with it being dark poetry, and people in the genre generally snubbing the reading of poetry as something they could never understand, or touting, with no wiggle room, it “wasn’t their thing.”

I was shocked that they wouldn’t even try dark poetry, something that highlighted emotions, feelings, and sensory perceptions in a way that might even help their own prose writing, or if they weren’t writers, wouldn’t attempt to read anything that held so much in such a small package. If not reading for anything deeply personal, at least modern dark poetry certainly creates unsettling, visceral snapshots into the windows of characters.

What astounded me the most though was that many were music fanatics, some even in bands themselves or had been at some time, or liked sharing music videos, lyrics, new bands, and often told us all, via social media, how much the songs and bands mean to them whether as playlists to accompany writing sessions, a way to soothe themselves in times of pain or hardships, or is a way to motivate them. Many people, writers or otherwise, communicate thoughts, feelings, and action using songs.

Which is, they talk with lyrics. Which are in fact, like a form of poetry.

Music is words set to rhythm. Poetry is words set to rhythm. And just like there is music for all tastes, there are also many types of poetry. They aren’t always Homer, Shakespeare, or even Poe, they are scenes from episodes of life, trailers into souls, and filled with emotions (and if you don’t have emotions, you aren’t human – you’ve escaped Westworld – ah, well, even they seem to have emotions after all?).

When I first started writing poetry in high school, it was a way for me to unload my feelings onto paper. I’ve always been artistically and musically inclined and enjoyed not only speaking through words but creating with words. I liked how I could formulate words together to make them rhyme or sing or flow to a beat or freestyle to a cadence in my own head. Being a percussionist for over 10 years, playing the drums during all that time and into college, defined for me the cadence inside my head. I felt it when I played, and I feel it still when I write. It’s not dissimilar.

I loved Jim Morrison of The Doors at the time too – I still do, but that’s when my love began, when his honeyed words dripped to me, his piercing eyes making me full stop to listen to him. And when I did, his lyrics opened doors of creativity in my mind. It was more than the psychedelic music, the mood, or his good looks though, it was the essence of feelings through simple words. (Note: When I finally saw his exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland when I was 30, I was in awe to see his hand-writing!)

As a writer, and past musician who still finds music affecting my moods, and lyrics and words to songs moving me, I write a good portion of poems to a song inside my own head or while being inspired by music. I am a story teller, in the form of writing, and often the best singers, are story tellers as well, through their voice, but as you can see sometimes there are writers who sing their written words.

Possibly looking at the art form of poetry from a musical angle would help reluctant readers see modern poetry in a wider light. Although, not all poetry, whether slant or free verse like mine, or rhyming and metered as others, can or will be set to music, it’s interesting to slow down when reading it and find its inner rhythm for yourself. To the music of your own head. To your own interpretation. To the soul of the piece. All the best poetry will usually have its own jive you can pick up on.

If you’re wondering about great musicians who are also poets and/or have published poetry collections as well as recorded successful albums, I’ve compiled a list of some I adore. They’ve created music and lyrics that inspire me in my daily life and in my writing both. Remember, you’ll have to find the poetry within the music you enjoy, whether it’s heavy metal, punk, alternative, R & B, or country, the list is set to some of my tastes, but I’m just as likely to listen to Ozzy Osbourne, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Oasis, or J. Cole, Mozart, Duran Duran, or Lorde on any given day.

You’ll find this list in Part 2 of this post, 10 Songwriters Who Bring the Poetry, over at Horror Talk!


Horror Talk




Breathe. Breathe. is a collection of dark poetry and short fiction exploring the surreal depths of humanity. It’s a representation of how life breaks us apart and words put us back together. Purged onto the pages, dark emotions flow, urging readers into murky seas and grim forests, to the fine line between breathing and death.

In Act One, readers are presented with a serial killer in Victorian London, a lighthouse keeper with an eerie legacy, a murderous spouse that seems to have walked right out of a mystery novel, and a treacherous Japanese lady who wants to stay immortal. The heightened fears in the twilight of your minds will seep into the blackest of your nights, where you have to breathe in rhythm to stay alive.

In Act Two, the poetry turns more internal and pierces through the wall of denial and pain, bringing visceral emotions to the surface unleashing traumas such as domestic abuse, violence, and illness.

In the short stories, you’ll meet residents of Valhalla Lane whose lives are on a violent parallel track to collision, a man who is driven mad by the sound of a woodpecker, a teenage girl who wakes up on the beach and can’t find another soul in sight, a woman caught in a time shift pitting her against the Egyptian goddess Anuket, and a little girl whose whole world changes when her favorite dandelion yellow crayon is discontinued.

Amid these pages the haunting themes of oppression, isolation, revenge, and madness unfold through folklore, nightmares, and often times, raw, impulsive passion crafted to sear from the inside out.

With a touching foreword by the Bram Stoker nominated author Brian Kirk, Breathe. Breathe. will at times unsettle you, and at times embrace you. Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, a veteran writer and editor of the written word, offers up a mixed set of pieces, identifying her as a strong, new voice in dark fiction that will tear the heart from your chest, all the while reminding you to breathe.



Amazon Purchase Link –


Also available via Kindle Unlimited.
Find in print at Barnes and Noble and other fine online retailers.


Al-Mehairi creates engaging characters and often has twists to her plots that make for a unique reading experience. The highlight of this section would be the story “Dandelion Yellow,” a magical realist tale about a young girl and her box of crayons. It’s a rich, colorful tale with a suspenseful build up and haunting ending. Overall, the fiction section of the book is very well done.” – Cemetery Dance

“Erin paints scenes and evokes emotions with precision and skill. These are the kinds of stories and poems that tighten your chest and leave you holding your breath.” – The Scary Reviews

“Breathe. Breathe. is as honest and raw as writing gets. Erin bares her soul with these poems, particularly during Act 2 in which the verses take on a much more personal and reflective nature.” -The Grim Reader

“Breathe. Breathe. is a great collection of poetry and short fiction. The poems are dark and vivid. They touch at the core of the human condition. The poems are gritty and chilling. You can feel the doom and dread in each of the poems. Breathe. Breathe. is an emotional rollercoaster. The characters are troubled, and the author gives them just enough depth.” – Cedar Hollow Reviews

“I am certain many readers {and not only female} will find themselves breathing shallower, or holding their breath, as the vividness of these scenes awakens memories. Other readers who may not have these particular types of painful memories, will nonetheless wince in empathy. I am equally certain very few will walk away untouched, and very few will forget.” -The Haunted Reading Room

“Raw, risky, and brave.” – Selcouth Station

“I feel the poems are at their best when folkloric in nature – I particularly like “Ningyo’s Misfortune”, “The Driftwood of Wishes”, and “Offerings to Nang Tani”. The short stories “Destination: Valhalla Lane Loveless, Ohio” and “Life-Giver of the Nile” are both clever and brutal, and the standout.” – Julie K. Rose, author of Oleanna and Dido’s Crown

“Wow. This collection really leaves bruises on the soul. I’m not a huge fan of poetry, yet, I found myself glued to the words and emotions pouring out of this author. The short stories were great too. My favorite was “Lunch Served at Noon”, as it had a Twilight Zone-ish quality to it. To fans of dark literary fiction and poetry, I recommend giving Breathe. Breathe. a try.” – Tim Meyer, author of Sharkwater Beach

“At times sinister, definitely dark, atmospheric and heavy with foreboding, this collection of poetry and short stories from Erin Al Mehairi touches our deepest fears. Murder, domestic violence and even an ancient Egyptian goddess all move within these pages where nothing is ever simple or straightforward.” – Catherine Cavendish, author of Wrath of the Ancients

It’s full of the unexpected – bits of lace cut through with the odd and the horrible and the beautiful. Through it all I sense the power of a survivor!! And I love that!”
—Sue Harrison, internationally bestselling author of Mother Earth Father Sky (Ivory Carver Trilogy)

“Breathe. Breathe. is at times haunting, visceral, bittersweet, and tender. Erin Al Mehairi bares her soul and invites readers to devour it whole.”
—Hunter Shea, author of We Are Always Watching

“Erin Al-Mehairi weaves a web of narrative and poetry both beautiful and nightmare-inducing in Breathe. Breathe., invoking heartache and the need to see through the shining masks life presents us to confront the darkness it truly holds.”
—Michelle Garza, co-author of Bram Stoker nominated Mayan Blue

“I loved Dandelion Yellow.  I was hyperventilating at the end, but it was such a beautiful, painful and artful tale. I’ll be saying that last line to myself for weeks at least. Just beautiful.  I’m re-reading the rest.  One read just isn’t enough because DAYUM.  Beautiful.”
–  Somer Canon, author of Vicki Beautiful and The Killer Chronicles

“In Breathe. Breathe., Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi employs sharp, jagged words arranged in sparse, disturbingly visceral clusters to force readers to “breathe” through the fear and pain of abuse and personal terror. It’s a sense reinforced by the deceptively quiet but disquieting story, “Dandelion Yellow.” Filled with sharp sensory detail, the highlight is “Life-Giver of the Nile,” an evocative circular time-shift tale in which an Egyptologist’s soul is required by Anuket, ancient and modern goddess of the Nile, for a greater purpose. Whether in poetry or prose, dark kernels nestled within horror tropes indicate that Al-Mehairi writes from the gut and from the heart but with the fierceness of a survivor, the soul of a fearless champion. This mixed collection is a fine introduction to a strong, intriguing new voice in dark fiction.”

-W.D. Gagliani, Bram Stoker Finalist, author of Wolf’sTrap (Nick Lupo Series)

Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Biography –

Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Journalism, and History. She has 20 years of experience in the communication and marketing fields and is currently a writer, a journalist, an editor, a publicist, and a consultant among many other things.

She writes fiction, essays, stories, and poetry and is an avid reader of many genres. She has edited poetry anthologies, novels, fiction pieces, and other various non-fiction and journalistic pieces. As a journalist, she’s written, interviewed, and edited for various newspapers, magazines, media outlets, and online news sources at both ends of the spectrum in media and public relations.

BREATHE. BREATHE., published by Unnerving, is her collection and a mix of dark poetry and short stories and has been an Amazon best-selling paid title, debuting at #2 in Women’s Poetry behind NYT best-selling poet, Rupi Kaur and holding in the Top 100 best-sellers there and in horror short stories consistently for three months past publication. She has also featured in the anthology from Unnerving called HARDENED HEARTS, which published in December 2017. Her story “Dandelion Yellow,” from Breathe. Breathe., is also featured in the MY FAVORITE STORY anthology of the Project Entertainment Network, which published also in December of 2017. This year, February rings in with the publishing of her poem, “Chained by Love” in Enchanted Conversation: a fairy tale magazine. Currently, she is working on a new project as the guest editor for a new anthology of poetry and short stories coming from Unnerving this Fall, called HAUNTED ARE THESE HOUSES.

As an entrepreneur, she owns two businesses: Addison’s Compass Public Relations and Hook of a Book Media, in which she acts as a PR/Marketing Consultant, publicist, and editor for authors, publishers, and others. Besides her team of freelance authors she works with, she also handles marketing and PR for Sinister Grin Press, where she is also an editor, and works doing PR for Raw Dog Screaming Press as well.


A past Young Careerist of Ohio and Woman of Achievement Award winner in her community, she volunteers her time in the community and is the chairwoman on the board of directors for a local mental health center and rape crisis and domestic violence safe haven.

She is the mother of three school-aged children and a cat. She lives with her family in rural Ohio nestled in the forest—a place just ripe for nightmares. Her passions are reading, writing, book hunting, hiking, and entertainment such as movies/film, television, and music. Oh, and she bakes, because you can’t do any of that without cookies.

Erin is an infrequent co-host adding her #MarketingMorsels segment on Project Entertainment Network’s The Mando Method, an award-winning weekly podcast for new and veteran writers, every once in awhile.

You can e-mail her at hookofabook (at) hotmail (dot) com and find her easily at http://www.hookofabook.wordpress.com. You’ll also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest where she loves new friends.


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