Driving down I-29, you might have passed Erwin, S.D., missing the town of 45 with a blink of an eye. Yet, an artist has “blossomed” from it. The poet, R. H. Swaney, now residing in Sioux Falls, is a name you might have heard of. He’s accumulated recognition through popular social media sites, like Instagram, by combining stunning florals and photography with his poetry.
“I love being inspired by people … I make a lot of references to nature, but I typically get inspired by a situation, or one person. I’ll make a metaphor talking about it,” admitted Swaney between sips of coffee. “I love urban areas, coffee shops … listening in on conversations; it’s so great.”
In the beginning, Swaney’s creative outlet was in spoken word poetry and spoken word music. But, in two years passing, he realized it was time for a different kind of creative project. He decided to tackle the workings of a book.
“When I started thinking about a book, I said, ‘Okay, I can post on social media.’ Instagram is a cool platform for people who like micro poetry – the kind of stuff that I do – so I made an Instagram account,” he recalled.
He started an account, at first hiding behind a moniker. Swaney later made the change to his real name when he saw what his work meant to people.
“What I was writing was resonating with people,” he said. “I decided that I wanted to be me, because that’s the best way to connect and help people. I want them to be able to reach out to a person and know who they are talking to.”
The collection he’s assembled for his book, however, isn’t a simple collection of pretty sayings and aesthetically pleasing visuals. Much like the decision to give his real name out to the public, his intent for his poetry book is altruistic.
“I cover three topics in the book: mental health, self-love, and loving others. That’s what my art has evolved into,” shared Swaney, revealing that his childhood revolved around the absence of his mother, who he says struggled with mental illness herself.
He continued, “I know how mental health affects people. My goal is to help people that feel alone … I feel a real push in my heart to add positive growth to society … I want to better humanity as a whole.”
He laughed, recalling the time he told himself he’d never be one to publish a book. Swaney wanted his art strictly through spoken word and music, but the bits of micro poetry that didn’t seem to fit anywhere turned out to fit all together, becoming his first book, Lovely Seeds.
“The title, Lovely Seeds, is a reference to the poems being small, short, like seeds,” he said. “Some people take these with them and let it grow into a newfound love for themselves, who they are, or maybe a little bit of insight to change their view of the people in this world.”
Swaney plans to release Lovely Seeds on October 22.
For more information on Swaney or his book, visit rhswaney.com.