A Sense of History: A Collection of Poetry by John S. Hatcher

Published in both hardbound and paperback with wonderful illustrations by my talented daughter Jill Campisciano, this collection of my poetry is arranged in nine sequential parts, all of which are meant to relate to the title regarding the nature and importance of history, whether personal or collective. 

The majority of poems are relatively short lyric pieces, and many of these are autobiographically based, but as the title of the work suggests, the work is intended to demonstrate that our personal histories, when properly examined and understood, result from our inescapable relationship to the various threads of history—whether of humankind as a whole, or familial figures whom we know mostly through myth and yellowing pictures. But our personal history, when properly monitored and pursued, is the preparation for all that will succeed us, whether through our progeny or from our assisting in laying the foundation for “an ever-advancing civilization” as mandated in the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh.  

The poems are not didactic, nor is it collection intended to be explicitly religious in nature, though each of the nine sections does imply a chronology—from Part One that deals with various “Theories of History” to Part Nine that concludes with “A Sense of History” implicit in poems about figures and events from Bahá’í history, and about the Bahá’í theory of history—that the fate of humankind will be propitious after all, despite the gloom overshadowing our present circumstances.

I was fortunate to have inscribed on the back cover, praise from Richard Eberhart, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and former United States Poet Laureate, and from Coleman Barks, noted translator of the poetry of Rumi and a most accomplished poet in his own right. I was also pleased that George Ronald under the editorial guidance of May Hoffman saw fit to publish a hardbound edition of this work. 

I have no sense of how widely or well this work was regarded, but for me it was a milestone in the progress of my art—I knew that my dedication hence forth was in the study of the work of others and in the translation of poetry into English, which, while requiring that one really write another poem that approximates the original, is not the same as dedicating one’s life to being a poet per se.

In fact, I had at the time, and perhaps still retain, a theory that the sort of poetry I was inclined to pen—passionate lyrics that speak from the heart about excruciating pain and ecstatic joy—are best conceived and devised during a certain period in one’s life, mostly in the climax of younger years or in moments of great transition and strife. And once having established to my satisfaction the major objectives and methods for my life’s work, I sought as much as possible to avoid the pitch of emotional turmoil, or else to respond to moments of great pith with palliative or creative venues other than verses which—in my experience—were to be read and understood only by those few who themselves indulge in this all-too-unappreciated art.

A few poems from this book

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