I received my B.A. degree in 1962 and my M.A. degree in 1963 from Vanderbilt University, and I earned my Ph.D. from the University of Georgia in 1968.  I am presently a retired Professor Emeritus in English literature at the University of South Florida in Tampa where I served as Director of Graduate Studies in English and where I specialized in teaching medieval literature and creative writing. Altogether, I taught English literature at the university level for forty-three years, thirty-nine of which were at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Assistant Professor 1980

I have published poetry in a variety of national and international poetry journals and literary periodicals.  A collection of my poetry, A Sense of History, was published in 1990, and my historical novel for youth, Ali’s Dream, was published in 1980 and a revised edition of that work was published in 1998 and a third edition in 2014.  This work has been translated in German as Faris Traum (1999), in Spanish as El Sueño de Alí (2003), and in Chinese (2012). A second novel for youth, Conversations, was published in 1988, and a revised version of this work was published as Healing Hasan’s Heart in 2015.

Poetry Reading at ABS Convention 2002

With the help of Persian and Arabic scholar Dr. Amrollah Hemmat, I published The Poetry of ?áhirih in 2002, the translation into English from Arabic and Persian of the poetry of renowned 19th century Persian Bábí poetess ?áhirih. In 2004 Amrollah and I published Reunion with the Beloved: Poetry and Martyrdom in English and Persian, poetry written by or about the Bahá’ís who were martyred in Iran. Six years later we published Adam’s Wish: The Unknown Poems of ?áhirih, a work which received the Association for Bahá’í Studies 2009 Distinguished Scholarship Award. Two years later in 2011, published The Quickening, our third and final work on Táhirih’s poetry.

My other scholarly and creative work spans a variety of fields. In addition to publishing numerous scholarly articles, monographs, and chapters in books throughout my career, my book From the Auroral Darkness: The Life and Poetry of Robert E. Hayden was published in 1984 and received critical praise in such periodicals as Choice and Black American Literature Forum. My comparative study of theodicy The Purpose of Physical Reality: The Kingdom of Names, published originally in 1987, is now in its fourth printing and was reviewed in the prestigious Encyclopédie Philosophique Universelle Vol III, a dictionary of the world philosophical works published by the Presses Universitairs de France, where I was listed as one of three of the most important scholars in Bahá’í Studies for the 20th century.

In the Classroom

My sequel to that work, The Arc of Ascent, was published in 1994, and Close Connections: The Bridge Between Spiritual and Physical Reality, a study in the relationship between science and religious thought, was published in 2005. The Purpose of Physical Reality was then revised and published in the fall of 2005. That same year, The Purpose of Physical Reality and Close Connections were two of the nine books nominated by ForeWord magazine as best books of the year in the field of philosophy for 2005. 

During the next decade after my retirement from teaching duties in 2007, I managed to write and publish six books studying particular theological and philosophical themes related to Bahá’í studies: The Ascent of Society: The Social Imperative in Personal Salvation was published in the fall of 2007; Understanding Death: The Most Important Event of Your Life  was published in the 2009; The Face of God Among Us was published in 2010; From Sin to Salvation: The Ascent of the Soul was published in 2016; In the Beginning was a Word: How Language Weaves Reality Together was published in 2017, and God’s Plan for Planet Earth: And for Your Neighborhood was published in 2018 and is presently being translated into Norwegian. 

My Office at Home

My other works include The Law of Love Enshrined: Selected Essays by John Hatcher and William Hatcher, published in 1996 and translated into Spanish as La Lógica de Las Leyes Espirtuales: El Porqué de las Creencias in 1999. The Ocean of His Words: A Reader’s Guide to the Art of Bahá’u’lláh, my demonstration of the value of applying tools of literary critical theory to the study and understanding of Bahá’í scripture, was published in 1997, and a revised edition was published in 2003. The beginning chapter of that same work was published as a monograph in 1998 as The Divine Art of Revelation

Earlier in my career, I wrote and published over a hundred poems and articles which have appeared throughout the world in refereed literary journals. Also during the course of my career, I have had the honor of being invited to speak at such distinguished institutions as the University of Michigan, McGill University in Canada, at the University of Maryland, at Emory University, and at Oxford University. In 2006 I was awarded the highest accolade for work in Bahá’í Studies, the Hasan Balyuzi Lectureship at the 29th annual meeting of the North American Association for Studies on the Bahá’í Faith. 

Awarded Professor Emeritus 2007

I have been associated with the Association of Bahá’í Studies since its beginning. I have served on the Executive Board of the Association, as associate editor of the Journal of Bahá’í Studies, and I am presently in my seventh year of serving as editor.

In addition to the publishing my own books, I have also published chapters and articles in several college texts. I wrote chapters on the Bahá’í Faith in Encounters with Eternity (1986), in The Encyclopedia of Death (1989), in the several editions of How Different Religions View Death & Afterlife (1991, 1998), in Life Death and Immortality: The Journey of the Soul (1994), in Religious Dimensions of Child and Family Life (1996), in Scripture and Revelation (1997), and in Where Art and Faith Converge (2008). 

For my work in Bahá’í studies, I was pleased to be nominated in 2017 for the Templeton Prize, an award which honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.  

2016 ABS Conference

In addition to scholarship and creative writing, I have maintained a lifelong interest in sports, sculpture, painting, and music. I lettered in track at Vanderbilt University, and I attained the rank of 5th degree black belt Master Instructor in Tae Kwon Do, winning the gold medal for sparring at the 1981 AAU National Tae Kwon Do competition.

My wife Lucia and I have lived on a farm in Plant City since 2004 where we have occupied our spare time with gardening, raising chickens, cattle, and growing hay. I have four children and nine grandchildren, all of whom have been unstinting in sharing their lives and love. My first great grandchild was born in June of 2020.