I’m thrilled to announce that my new chapbook, Witness Report, has been published by Finishing Line Press.
Here’s what some readers have said about Witness Report:
Roger Hecht‘s Witness Report is a little book of horrors that can’t be put down; the poems begin as benign commentaries that soon swerve into violence and despair, as in “Villanelle” its bucolic scene: ‘the sun sinks past the great beyond / or at least beyond the horizon, / & sets aflame the skin of Jenning’s Pond.” By the fourth verse, the poem has introduced nature’s daily savagery with ‘& tears my ears toward that direction / our cat unwittingly wandered / into teeth & terror and the great beyond.’ Hecht’s “Prose Poem” is voiced by ‘the bones of the boy buried in the cellar’, and “Sunlight Beckons Beyond the Dumpster” reveals our remorseless appetites. In this collection, Roger Hecht shows that he is a poet unafraid to look everyday life in the eye and tell the truth of it, in precise and elegant language.
–Bertha Rogers, Author, Wild, Again
Roger Hecht’s Witness Report testifies to “just what kind of world we have made”: the kind where people escort a duck family through traffic, the kind wherein we all are “the last supper” for the creatures that live in and feed on us, and the kind where we must “find our spot in the extinction parade.” Hecht in Witness Report is ever mindful of the poet as maker, so his poems create and shape a better, clearer vision. He turns the occasion that his daughter asked the meaning of “dauntless” to a flight of fancy, creating a film-noir gangland scenario in which he’s shoved up against a dumpster and fleeced, but finds himself “undaunted and still dauntless.” (It can’t be easy, having such a poet for a father.) Hecht revises American visionaries, giving new dimension to Whitman’s “I contain multitudes” in his poem on the microorganisms in human organs. He has the fly rewrite Emily Dickinson’s “I heard a fly buzz.” He channels a twisted Gertrude Stein who’d cloned some ill-fated Huck Finns, boys “who lit out for the frontier” and who are reduced to “a congress of bones” buried in a cellar built for them, in the creepiest poem ever, seriously, the “boys unhinge their jaws as if they could be heard [and] have no use for the hands that held them down.” Hecht breathes life into the dry bones of poetic form—the sonnet, the villanelle, and more—as in his quintessential ode to American nostalgia, a presumptive Writer’s Almanac poem that begins, “I will write a poem Garrison Keillor / could read on the radio.” Here he fantasizes home, in the Adirondacks or West Virginia, or on whatever range refuge may abide, say a woodsy cabin that fades in a piano that “tinkles to a stop,” then reality-checks the reverie with “the news from the latest war.” By turns astringent and lush, scratch dub and orchestral, satiric and lyric, and with humor and horror, Hecht bears witness to our dreams and crimes and follies in “visions gleaned // from everyday suffering / that seeks purpose / or at least an end…” No poem-a-day soundbites here, the poems of Witness Report are masterpieces of a masterful poet writing with wit, charm, and great compassion.
–Robert Bensen, Author, Before and Orenoque, Wetumka
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