Embracing the Old, the Now, and the Future: Interview with Le Hinton
“There’s more of a cross section now, multiple generations of poets. You’ll see people my age at readings, people that have been there for years, 35 year olds, and plenty of young people. It’s exciting and inspiring to have a variety of voices influencing you as a poet. I’m open to what each generation has to offer.”
When you enter the Lancaster Barnstormer’s Clipper Stadium you’ll pass a series of red arches, a curious sculpture. It’s inspiration: A poem, accompanying the symbolic stitches, called “Our Ballpark” by local poet Le Hinton. Funded by Franklin and Marshall’s Poetry Paths project, the poem exemplifies exactly what Le means when he tells me,” Poets write about everything.”
I met with the local poet last Thursday at Square One Coffee in Lancaster, PA to talk about writing, life, and the history of Lancaster’s literary community. Le was not brought to Lancaster for reasons like family or work, but rather because he chose this city. “It was comfortable, and exciting,” Le said, “…it’s my home.”
Le has been a Lancastrian since 1982 but grew up in Harrisburg, PA. He began writing poetry at age sixteen and was first published in St. Joseph University’s newspaper during his studies there. It wasn’t until the late 90’s that Le began attending readings at Borders where he met local poets Jack Veasey, Rich Hemmings, and Jeff Rath. Le performed his first featured poet reading in Harrisburg in 2001 and quickly emerged in the local writing community—he soon began publishing books, hosting a monthly reading series, and editing his own literary journal.
Iris G. Press (the moniker for Le’s publishing endeavors) began when he decided to partner with his longtime friend and favorite poet Jeff Rath to publish Rath’s first book. He sees publishing as a rewarding and responsible use of his money. Fledgling Rag is Le’s own literary journal, published three times a year from 2007 to 2010. Since 2010, Le has been focusing on doing just one issue a year. “Doing one a year increased the quality of the journal greatly, and it allowed me to focus on a featured poet.” he said, expressing excitement for Fledgling Rag Issue 13 and Iris G. Press’s forthcoming release (Lancaster Poet Laureate Daina Savage’s first chapbook).
Fledgling Rag is composed of solicited poetry—there are no open submissions. Le publishes work by local poets as well as poets from the east coast. Issue 12 featured Pittsburg poets Yona Harvey and Tameka Cage Conley. Local poetJeff Rath was also published in that issue.
Publishing and traveling may seem like it would take all of the writer’s time, but Le will assure you that he is first and foremost a poet. He writes early every morning, sometimes spending months editing the same poems. His next volume of poetry will be published by Iris G. Press in 2014 and will be titled, Variance of Moisture and Light.
Although he considers himself a poet who simply grew into organizing and publishing, Le is certainly cornerstone of the Lancaster literary community. Speaking of the development he has seen in our community over the years he says, “There’s more of a cross section now, multiple generations of poets. You’ll see people my age at readings, people that have been there for years, 35 year olds, and plenty of young people. It’s exciting and inspiring to have a variety of voices influencing you as a poet. I’m open to what each generation has to offer.” Le holds a monthly reading called The Lancaster Poetry Exchange at Barnes and Noble Booksellers (1700 Fruitville Pike, Lancaster, PA) every fourth Wednesday and always includes an open reading and featured reader. July’s reading featured Brooklyn poet Joseph Wade and on August 28th Harrisburg poetry legend Jack Veasey will read.
Looking forward, Le hopes to see Lancaster’s writing community continue to grow in terms of collaboration and partnering. He fully supports poets of all ages, styles, and backgrounds working together. Poetry discussion groups are something Le feels strongly about, as they provide a chance for dialogue about poetry’s meaning and purpose. These type of gatherings are a perfect opportunity for literature lovers of all ages to interact and share ideas. “Poetry is universal, we all write about the same subjects but in different ways. Love, loss, heartbreak—poetry does and should always bring people together…Poetry can bring community together and keep people informed” said Le.
Le Hinton has had over 80 poems published in various journals including The Fox Chase Review, Baltimore Review, and Gargoyle. His current book is called The God Of Our Dreams, and you can get a copy by emailing him here.