Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Lancaster, Lancaster County
Poet Le Hinton, born in Harrisburg, is the author of multiple poetry collections and was selected for inclusion in the Pennsylvania Center for the Book's 2014 Public Poetry Project.
Awards: Public Poetry Project of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book
Le Hinton was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and has spent the majority of his life in Lancaster, where he hosts the monthly Lancaster Poetry Exchange, solicits work for his poetry press, Iris G. Press, and literary magazine, Fledgling Rag, and writes his own poetry. His poems have appeared in Watershed, LittlePatuxent Review, and others. Hinton's poem, "Epidemic," was selected for publication in the Public Poetry Project by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book in 2014. He is the author of multiple poetry collections, including The Language of Moisture and Light (2014) and Sing Silence (2018).
Born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Le Hinton grew up with six siblings and a mother who always read aloud to them. "She would read the Bible and Langston Hughes in particular," Hinton told Timesleader.com writer Sara Pokorny. His mother, now 84, continues to be a poetry enthusiast. "Poetry is just something that's always been there," he said. By age 16, Hinton began writing his own poems. He later pursued a BA in English and Literature from Saint Joseph's University (1970-1974) in Philadelphia. The university newspaper was the first to publish his work, but according to an interview with The Triangle writer, Tyler Barton, "It wasn't until the late 90s that [Hinton] began attending readings at Borders where he met local poets Jack Veasey, Rich Hemmings, and Jeff Rath. [He] performed his first featured poet reading in Harrisburg in 2001 and quickly emerged in the local writing community."
In 2004, Hinton created Iris G. Press with the philosophy that "the solitary reading and re-reading of a poem that moves us remains our primary source of joy and poetry pleasure." The press aims to give voice to poets from a variety of geographical locations as well as include a variety of poetic styles. Hinton also solicits poetry for Fledgling Rag, a literary journal he began in 2007, which has featured poets such as Yona Harvey, Gwyn McVay, Deanna Nikaido, and Meg Day. Add to these endeavors him spearheading the monthly Lancaster Poetry Exchange event at Barnes and Noble, and it is obvious why Barton refers to Hinton as a "cornerstone of the Lancaster literary community."
Lancaster has been home to Hinton since 1982, and he told a writer of Fox Chase Review, who goes by the lowercase g emil reutter, that "I love writing from this place, using it as my safe house. From here I am easily able to travel to places such as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington to hear and experience live poetry. Lancaster can offer a small-town feel, a somewhat urban atmosphere and rural farming esthetics all in one location."
Waiting for Brion (2004) is Hinton's first collection and includes poems that vary in style and subject. His later books — for example Black on Most Days (2008), which is centered on the many things the color black has come to represent — have become more and more focused, with The God of Our Dreams (2010) presenting an optimistic progression with its pieces and his The Language of Moisture and Light (2014), encompassing the concepts of moisture and light. "I found that I was writing a lot about moisture in varying forms," Hinton said of the work in conversation with Pokorny. "Tears, blood, kisses, rain, or light: fireflies, fire, candles."
Hinton's poems have also appeared in magazines such as Watershed, Gargoyle, Haggard and Halloo, Literary Chaos, and Bent Pin Quarterly, and in the anthology/cookbook Cooking Up South (2010). LittlePatuxent Review first published Hinton's "No Doubt About it (I Gotta Get Another Hat)" in 2013, and the poem was selected for inclusion in The Best American Poetry 2014. "When I found out that the poem was chosen by guest editor, Terrance Hayes, whose work I've read closely and loved since 2010, I was stunned," Hinton said in a statement in Little Patuxent. "I am profoundly grateful to him and series editor, David Lehman for choosing [it]."
Another unique presentation of his work is "Our Ballpark," a poem that has been incorporated into a sculpture and installed in the Lancaster Barnstormer's Clipper Stadium. Common Thread, the sculpture by Derek Parker, together with Hinton's poem mark a site of the Poetry Paths, a public visual and literary art project founded and produced by the Philadelphia Alumni Writers House at Franklin & Marshall College with funding from the Lancaster County Community Foundation. "I could be published in a prestigious poetry magazine, but that wouldn't mean anything to the ordinary person," Hinton tells Pokorny. "Now when people ask if I have anything I can read somewhere, I tell them to come to Lancaster for a baseball game."
Among his efforts to promote poetry and encourage the work of poets, Hinton offers this to aspiring writers as stated in an article by Jo-Anne Greene in Lancaster Online: "Being emotionally sensitive or being moved by an event is not enough. There is a craft to writing well. It is difficult and sometimes tedious work, and the most important part of writing is rewriting and editing."
"It's important to let people know that poetry is a part of the arts," he reminds us in Pokorny's article. "[S]o that collectively we can enjoy, comment on, savor, and talk about it. It allows us to express our feelings, our moods, our fears. I've said in the past that historically, when something happens, it's the poets that people go to. With 9/11 that happened. ... We didn't wait for someone to create a movie or a TV program; we went to the poet."
At the time of this writing, Le Hinton continues to serve as Poet, Publisher, and Editor of Iris G. Press and host of the monthly Lancaster Poetry Exchange (with assistance from longtime friend, Jeff Rath). In 2011, Hinton retired as Program Manager from the Bureau of Disability Determination for Social Security under the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, where he had worked for 28 years. He remains a loyal Lancaster resident and writes in an effort to present emotion and intellect in a way that will resonate with readers today and those who may encounter it years from now.
"Poetry is universal," Hinton says in The Triangle. "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."
Waiting for Brion. Iris G. Press, 2004.
Status Post Hope. Iris G. Press, 2006.
Black on Most Days. Iris G. Press, 2008
The God of Our Dreams. Iris G. Press, 2010.
Beverly, Sylvia Dianne. Cooking up South: Entertaining with Soulful Recipes, Poems and Remembrances. Word of Mouth Books, 2010.
The Language of Moisture and Light. Iris G. Press, 2014.
Sing Silence. Iris G. Press, 2018.
Bargteil, Dylan. "No Doubt About It: Le Hinton Picked for Best American Poetry." Little Patuxent Review. 11 March 2014. 14 March 2014. <https://littlepatuxentreview.org/2014/03/11/no-doubt-about-it-le-hinton-picked-for-best-american-poetry/>.
Barton, Tyler. "Embracing the Old, the Now, and the Future: Interview with Le Hinton." The Triangle: Fear No lit. 19 August 2013. 18 March 2014. <https://www.thetrianglepa.org/2013/08/19/embracing-the-old-the-now-and-the-future-interview-with-le-hinton/>.