Though sculpture was the first art I felt instinctively capable of pursuing, it was around the same time—late in high school and early in college—that I become aware I had a capacity for, and found delight in, writing fiction. But it was not until I began teaching college courses in poetry that I began to become interested in writing poetry myself.
The result was that a considerable part of my energy during my first years at the University of South Florida (in the late 1960s and early 1970s) was dedicated to writing and circulating my poetry for publication in poetry magazines and journals. While my love of poetry—especially the study and teaching of it—evolved and never ceased (and greatly assisted my study of the work of Robert Hayden), the culmination of writing and publishing my own work pretty much concluded with the publication of a collection of my verse, A Sense of History, in 1990. After that, my foremost relationship with verse was in studying, teaching, and translating poetry, first from Anglo Saxon to modern English and, in later years, from Arabic and Persian to English, the latter with the assistance of Amrollah and Ehsanollah Hemmat.
Click Book Titles or Thumbnails below for more details.
Some of the pages below include sample poetry from the books.
From the Auroral Darkness: The Life and Poetry of Robert Hayden. Oxford England: George Ronald Publishers, 1984. (342 pages)
This is a thorough and possibly definitive examination of the life and poetry of Robert E. Hayden, particularly as it relates to his perspective as a Bahá’í, something that underlies his world view, as well as his personal experience. In particular, it supplants and refutes the assertions and misinterpretations in Robert Hayden: A Critical Analysis of His Poetry by Pontheolla Williams, who unfortunately fails to appreciate the relationship of Hayden’s religious and philosophical beliefs as they inform an understanding of the symbolic meaning of his poetry.
A Sense of History: A Collection of Poetry by John S. Hatcher. Oxford, England: George Ronald Publishers, 1990. (224 pages)
This collection of my poetry pulls together poems I had published individually with poems I wrote specifically for this work. Divided into nine parts, this not a merely an anthology. The individual parts and poems within them are arranged in something of a chronological order—some personal and some not, some brief, and others of a narrative bent—to demonstrate the perspective of history from a Bahá’í point of view.
The Poetry of Táhirih. Oxford: George Ronald Publishers, 2001.
This collection of some of the better-known poems of Táhirih are translated from Persian and Arabic into English. Included in the volume are plentiful notes regarding terms and traditions, as well as the original text in the back of the book. This is the first initial collection of the poetry of Ṭáhirih published and translated into English.
Reunion with the Beloved: Poetry and Martyrdom. Juxta Publishing, LTD. Hong Kong, 2004.
This collection of poetry translated from Persian is divided into two parts: poems written by or about the martyrs from the Heroic Age of the Bahá’í Faith, and poems written by or about those who were martyred after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. As with our other translations, the original text of the poems is in the back of the book.
Adam’s Wish: Unknown Poetry of Táhirih. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 2008.
A collection of poems translated from a manuscript of works previously unknown, this book contains useful introductions and explications of those themes that this amazing and heroic poet presents in her examination of some of the more abstruse theological matters related to the advent of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. In particular, these poems focus on how we must await the “second” trumpet blast—Bahá’u’lláh’s declaration of His mission—before we enter the stage of the “Latter Resurrection” foretold in the Qur'án and in the writings of the Báb. Importantly, the book contains in the facsimiles of the calligraphy from the original manuscript.
The Quickening: Unknown Poetry of Ṭáhirih, volume 2. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 2011.
This, our final collection of poems by Ṭahirih, is also from a manuscript largely unknown by scholars. But unlike the poems in Adam’s Wish, these poems focus on how the advent of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh have ushered in the resurrection so frequently alluded to in past revelations and so often longed-for by the adherents of virtually every Abrahamic religion. More than the poems in any other collection, these works demonstrate profoundly the other-worldly knowledge that this heroic and wonderfully learned woman possessed. As such, these poems require much of us. As with the other volumes of her works, the original text is included.
The Nightingale of Paradise: The Poetry of Bahá'u'lláh. Mostly unpublished provisional translation.
This collection of the poetry of Bahá’u’lláh is not available in print or online, but I mention it here because we learned so much from working on these poems, one of which has thus far been printed as a provisional translation (“The Ode of the Dove”). The fact is, of course, that one can hardly consider the poems of Bahá’u’lláh as having any less authority than His other works, particularly those such as The Tablet of the Holy Mariner or The Hidden Words that are themselves highly poetic in style and form.