Public Hearings by Richard Hague:

Word Press release date: August 2009

Inaugural reading: InkTank, Friday, August 28, 2009 7:30 pm
at InkTank World Headquarters, 1311 Main St. Cincinnati, OH

Statement from the author:

In the 40 years or so during which I have been publishing, my poetic interests have ranged from the poetry of place, poetry of the natural world, poetry of the clash between civilization and wilderness, gardening, chaos science, cosmology and physics. But these poems collected in Public Hearings are a departure for me, or rather just another new direction, though occasional political or satirical poems have appeared singly in the past, including the long dressing-down entitled “Riot” which was published in Streetvibes, Cincinnati’s homeless newspaper. I hope it’s not bad luck that this is my 13th collection.

Here are about 70 of my recent poems critical of some aspect or another of American life and culture— educational practice and policy, environmental degradation, Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina, the state of arts education in America, the institutional curses (and a few blessings) of city life. They are arranged in four sections: On The Street, In School, In Country, and States of the Arts. I think of myself as a kind of bailiff, crying Oyez! Oyez!, hoping a few citizens will attend to these “public hearings” on matters like these and so form judgments, sneer, laugh, or share in my occasional outrage.

As has happened recently with President Obama’s weighing in on the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., I know I run some risk in this. I would rather err in speaking out, though, than err in the silent complicity with injustice and stupidity that too often overwhelms growth and change. “Reason does not prevail”: I have come to adopt this as my mantra in so many arenas of life. One of the few ways left to me to maintain any sort of equanimity or accountability to myself and to poetry’s indispensable function in a free democracy is to make poems like these, some of which may well be unreasonable, wild, subversive—and, I hope, maybe true.


Richard Hague was recipient of the l982 Cincinnati Post-Corbett Award in Literary Arts, and has received Ohio Arts Council grants four times in two genres. His first full-length collection of poems, Ripening, was published in l984 by the Ohio State University Press; he was named Co-Poet of the Year in l985 for Ripening by the Ohio Poetry Day Association. His 2004 volume, Alive in Hard Country (Bottom Dog Press) was named 2005 Poetry Book of the Year by the Appalachian Writers Association. In l998 Milltown Natural: Stories and Essays from a Life was nominated for a National Book Award. His memoir-poetry collection Lives of the Poem: Community & Connection in a Writing Life (Wind Publicatiosn, 2005) is used in several schools and colleges as a text. His performance, with Michael Henson, of his long poem “Where Drunk Men Go” was a CityBeat Critic’s Choice in the 2009 Cincinnati Fringe Festival. His writing has appeared in dozens of journals, magazines, and reviews, including Teacher & Writer, Poetry, Nimrod: International Journal, The Prose Poem, Creative Nonfiction, Ohio Magazine, Birmingham Poetry Review, Smartish Pace, Mid-American Review, English Journal and many others.
He has taught in Cincinnati at Purcell Marian High School,.Xavier University, and Edgecliif College and in Boston at Northeastern University as well as in workshops throughout Appalachia and the Midwest. His other full-length collections of poetry include Possible Debris (Cleveland State University Poetry Center), Garden and The Time It Takes Light (Word Press).

He serves as a volunteer on the Board of Directors of InkTank, a grassroots writing organization in Cincinnati and as a volunteer coordinator for neighborhood gardens for Cincinnati’s Civic Garden Center.

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