Charles Schwab, Poet, Publishes Second Chapbook

Charles Schwab Poet

Charles Schwab, Poet

Charles Schwab has taken creative writing classes with me for about five years, during which I’ve marveled at his incredible ability with words and ideas, as well as his prolific production of work.

I wrote about Charlie here when he published his first collection of poems, Keeping Account. Now, he has self-published a second book, The Act of Free Falling.

His work has been published in the Arlington Advocate; the PKA Advocate; WestWard Quarterly Magazine; and Connotation Press online. His poem, Albinos Need an Azure Sky (And a Touch of Red), which appears in this new volume, took first prize in a local poetry contest.

It’s my pleasure to interview Charlie about this latest collection of poetry and introduce you to more of his work.

How did you choose the poems for this volume of poetry?
Of the 150-some poems I had written by end of 2012, I noticed they fell naturally into four groups: animals, seasons, nonsense, and personal life. I arbitrarily picked about 60 that seemed to have been best received by instructors, my classmates, publications, and others.

act of free falling coverThe Act of Free Falling

Click the cover image to learn more about this book


What are 3 of your favorite poems in the book?
The Act of Free Falling (picked for book title); Wolfgang; and Tea and Sunbeams.

How did you come to take the photo that appears on the cover of the book? Where is that waterfall located?
I used some of my photos for the interior illustrations, and I found one that seemed to illustrate perfectly the book’s title. I took the photo at Akaka Falls, on the island of Hawaii.

What advice would you have for anyone wanting to publish with CreateSpace?
Prepare your material completely in advance, and do thorough editing and proofing. Select from Createspace’s various options or packages, based on what you need and can afford.

What are you working on now?
I am writing more poems in the hopes of collecting enough for another book.

Is there anything you’d like to tell aspiring writers?
Yes. Get help from writing instructors and their classes. It’s invaluable.

Here are some of my favorites of Charlie’s poems. (I chose short ones so this post wouldn’t get too long.) – Lynette

Fly By Night
Said I to the fly buzzing by, “Why
Do you annoy me so (though I try
To refrain from bothering you, too,
Not even shouting that word, “shoo!”) ?”
Your persistence is such that I really ought
To give you a swat, but then I thought
If I could talk your tongue right now
I’d be able to reason with you somehow.
Well, I tried all the lingoes you might speak—
Mandarin, Arabic, Amharic, and Greek—
To no avail, even tongues which are dead,
‘Til you found me sitting in bed where I’d fled.
I had a date with the sandman to keep,
So I turned off the lamp and fell asleep.
The insight: not me but my reading light
Drew you to my room that night.

Sadly the years have gone away;
I’ve lived to see my heirs grow gray.
The girls not using any tint,
Now my son with just a hint.
My grandson I’ve seen from when he began,
Slowly, now quickly, becoming a man;
And nearly all from my generation—
A spouse of fifty years or more,
A brother who slipped away before—
Have passed on to that unknown station.
I’d hoped they’d all stay young, but, hey,
I’m alive to see my heirs grow gray.

You can find out more about The Act of Free Falling by clicking on the cover image, above.

See Charlie at Ninety, a beautiful video by Charlie’s filmmaker grandson, Matt Ober.

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The Perceptive Poetry of Charles R. Schwab

Even though he’s a writing student of mine, I can’t take complete credit for Charlie Schwab’s success. When I met him, Charlie was 89 years old, the active and knowledgeable Business Manager of our local Senior Center. Having only recently started writing poetry, he had already given a couple of public readings of his work.

Keeping Account, by Charles R. Schwab

Keeping Account, by Charles R. Schwab

What I can (and do) take credit for is having successfully nagged him to submit his writing for publication and to make his poems available to the public. Now, his work has been published in the Arlington Advocate, the PKA Advocate of Prattsville, N. Y. (“Graying”); WestWard Quarterly Magazine of Hamilton, Ill.(“Tea and Sunbeams” and “Requiem”); and Connotation Press online (“Reflections of a Nonagenerian”).

J.P. Reese of Connotation Press wrote about Charlie’s work “..Insightful, fresh and humorous (in a slightly grim and pragmatic way).”

I wrote the introduction to Charlie’s first collection of poetry, Keeping Account. Now he’s about to publish his second book of poetry, The Act of Free Falling.

Below is what Charlie says about his work. The poem at the end is one of my very favorites.
– Lynette

I find poetry writing rewarding because it enables me to express my thoughts about and reaction to the human/natural world, from news reports to animal behavior and the changing seasons. Many of these ideas are not fully formed unless I write them down.

Secondly, I like working out the rhythm, rhyme, alliteration and word play involved. And, finally, I value the satisfaction I get from working intensely at a craft.

I suppose I’m trying to comment on my life and human life in general, especially daily happenings, from the vantage point of a long and varied life. I would hope that readers of my poems might grasp some of the humor and irony in them.

To others who want to try their hands at writing poetry I’d say, “Find your own interest and style, possibly through joining a poetry or creative writing class. At any rate, sit down and do it.”
– C. Schwab

Keeping Account
by Charles Schwab

In the work I did I kept account
Of balances that fall and mount,
But counting comes in many guises –
Each time I count the number rises.

In Concord they’re counting the butterflies;
How much does it count if a species dies?
We are apt to count sheep if unable to sleep;
The awake shepherd dog knows to count his keep.
Counting on fingers was how we were taught;
Computers are now counted on for the lot.
Astronomers strain to count the stars;
Four-star generals generally count in wars.
The Challenger was poised for a lift-off count down,
As the champion, down for the count, lost a crown.
A bard of love wished to count the ways,
While servicemen’s loved-ones count the days.
Every vote counts, the national pols claim,
But when the vote’s counted, they’re not all the same.

Count your calories and you might live longer;
Counting your blessings may make you stronger.
Long, long ago I stopped counting each year;
Not to have my life count is what I now fear.

See more of Charlie’s poems on his website.

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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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