I’m enchanted by the poems of Joe Hesch, or JAHesch, as he’s known on Twitter where I met him. Rather than rhapsodize about why I love his poetry, I’ll just let you meet him—and his poems—here.
are sculpted words
hammered out of feelings
on the soft workbench in my heart
What do you do for a living?
For the past 27 years, I’ve been a public information specialist for government agencies in New York. But I’ve also been a reporter, an editor, and a staff writer with Skidmore College.
How’d you get involved in writing poetry?
I’ve been writing for a living since I was 20. Soulless stuff that created a symbiotic relationship with my depression. About six years ago, a pretty miraculous recovery from a heart condition let me know that each day is a blessing not to be wasted. I decided I’d best hurry and let the Writer’s heart I thought I had within me live again.
So I started to write sassy essays that I shared with friends. Then a bit of memoir I wrote one afternoon—about my childhood Christmases—was accepted for publication in a Christmas anthology. I continued to write about the discoveries I was making in myself and my world.
And then everything stopped.
I’d run out of those easily reached ideas and emotions, and I didn’t know what to do.
A dear friend noted that my prose always sounded quite poetic to her. “Why don’t you write a poem?” she said. So I started out with the 5-7-5 structured hug of haiku. Then I wrote a poem about not being able to write anymore, stringing together those five- and seven-syllable steps. She suggested I submit it to some journals, and it was accepted for publication. Poetry had recharged my life machine and put me back in business as a writer.
How do you manage to be so prolific?
Wow! I didn’t know that I was.
When I’m really open to the world and my feelings, something will occur to me when I’m taking my dog out at 5:30 in the morning. By the time I get to the office, that something has become an idea with strings of words attached. While my computer boots in the darkened office, I grab a legal pad and write…fast. I figure the poem doesn’t have to be an arbitrary good, it just has to be.
What are your greatest struggles as a poet?
Belief in myself. I don’t see myself as one of the real poets that have all the books and accolades. I pretty much write for myself and maybe a handful of appreciative readers I envision. I post poems for others to absorb these impressions of mine through their own internal prisms…just as I wrote them.
tossing for no reason
except for the look you gave me
I’m currently pulling together a collection of my poems under the title Penumbra: The Space Between, which I hope captures the unique impressions of life from a man reborn in middle age— not in the bright lights of youth, but not yet in the shadows of old age.
Want to tell us about the prose you’re writing and posting on your site?
Here’s the big secret. I never wanted to be a poet. Never wrote a poem in my life before those haiku. I consider myself a storyteller. You could say my poems are stories with the sentences broken into bite-sized pieces, stacked like crackers.
I may have a novel in me…someday. But I will always try to write stories. And now I post them a little more prominently on the blog and gauge the reaction of readers. They’ll help me decide if I should take the next step.
I also have a collection of stories about my Albany and some characters I’ve populated it with.
In addition to the blog, I can be found on Twitter, and I have a Facebook page, Joseph Hesch, Poet and Writer. All visitors welcome!
I’ve chosen one of Joe’s poems as an example of why I’m so drawn to them. As my nephew said when he was a toddler, watching me struggle with groceries while trying to open the front door, “So hard to do.” But I forced myself to select just one: Running in the Dark.
Enjoy yourself exploring the rest.