Joe Hesch: The Reluctant Poet

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.

– Lynette


are sculpted words
hammered out of feelings
on the soft workbench in my heart
of stone.

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.

JOES DOG 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.

Can’t Sleep
sleepless again
tossing for no reason
except for the look you gave me
all night.

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.

– Lynette

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8 thoughts on “Joe Hesch: The Reluctant Poet

  1. Thank you, Joe Hesch, for “Running in the Dark”, and thank you, Lynette, for bringing these poems to our attention.

  2. Pingback: Interview ~ Joe Hesch: The Reluctant Poet | A Thing for Words

  3. That is called a second chance, after a close encounter with death..nothing like a gun fight 🙂 just a realization that life is not to be taken for granted. Then all that we have, including our potentials to express, finds energy like a volcano and haiku 😉
    Of course, the prose is a secret and poetry not good enough to be stolen it? okay :)) it was a joke..I hope you write many things..fictions, drama and life with the underlying theme..of emotions..and then.. one day soon..your story would be a movie..with dialogues and songs/…good luck !!

  4. I am a great fan of yours, Joe. What a wonderful interview….so interesting and personal. I felt like we just sat down to a mug of chocolate and a chat. I was lucky to discover you sometime ago through Fb and Canadian Poet and Author, Heather Grace Stewart. I’ve enjoyed reading you ever since. You walk the walk of a poet, Joe……bleeding feet through every step. Thanks for letting us all tag along with you on your journey. And congratulations on a great interview! xoJulia

  5. Julia, I agree with you entirely. I’ve been reading Joe’s poetry online for some time, and feel publishers should be clamoring for his work and it should be winning awards. The “bleeding feet” you mention: exactly, exactly.

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