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
Freemen Awake! Rally Songs and Poems from New York’s Anti-Rent Movement. Delaware Country Historical Association, 2017.
This collection of mid-nineteenth century songs and poems captures the sentiments of New York tenant farmers who were at odds with the landlords over back rent and leases. In these pages, readers will find sources that shed light on the experiences of the landless farm workers who attempted to lay claim to what they described as their liberties, freedom and rights. Historians are in debt to Roger W. Hecht for producing a work that documents rural New York. It deserves a place in the classroom and on the bookshelf. — Dr. Thomas D. Beal, Professor of History, SUNY Oneonta; Editor, New York History: A Quarterly Journal
Roger W. Hecht’s Talking Pictures is a vivid book of poems which draws us to “….this
underworld.” He invites us to have a glance, a look, and then we as readers are deftly
taken elsewhere. The taking (and the “talking!”) provides a keen sense of tempo and
tone. The poetry is also often comic: in the strangely heroic poem “The Rumsfeld
Sestina” (imagine!) the question is raised “What will they do once they catch you?”
“You ask me what I knew and when I knew it” (from the same poem) hints at the
kind of personal and impersonal worlds and factors which impinge, at least, on all of
us. I return to Talking Pictures with pleasure. The variations Hecht employs in the
poems’ shapes and cadences intrigue.
—Michael Burkard, Author of Entire Dilemma and Unsleeping
Roger W. Hecht’s vocal and evocative collection, Talking Pictures, collects all right, is
stuffed with stuff. The things (not poems exactly and not so much prose either but
some hybrid unbranded entity) collected here have a thing for thing-ness. It is as if
Hecht has constructed an elaborate yet elegant filter that slows the speed of light,
turning it into a rich syrup, a saturated plasma, and gorgeous chunks of heretofore
unknown matter materialize out of the either or ether.
—Michael Martone, Author of Four for a Quarter
The Erie Canal Reader—poems, essays, travelogues, and fiction by major American and British writers—captures the colorful landscape and life along the Erie Canal from its birth in the New York frontier, through its heyday as a passage of culture and commerce, to its present decline into disuse.
Part celebration of the men and women who worked its waters and part social observation, these writings by such figures as Basil Hall, Frances Trollope, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, and others provide first-hand observations of the canal country and its role in the evolution of American social and economic culture from frontier to industrial prominence.
In addition to depictions of canal life, the pieces offer glimpses of early tourist resorts, like Trenton Falls, and observations of religious experiments that made New York’s “burned over district” a hotbed of social and political reform. Also included are works by the most prominent Erie Canal writers, Walter D. Edmonds and Samuel Hopkins Adams, whose stories and novels bring a modern sensibility and insight to their reflections on the canal.