Ben L. Hiatt


Drawing of  Ben L. Hiatt

 by Patrick Grizzell

Ben L. Hiatt was born in Northern California and raised in Eastern Oregon. He began publishing his original poetry in 1958 at the age of 16. He has now published poetry in six different decades, including somewhere around 30 books and chapbooks of poetry and one collection of stories and essays, The View From Mt. Aukum. He has received several literary awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Cash Award in 1970 as one of “America’s Most Promising Younger Poets”.  In 1972, he was listed in Who’s Who in America.

During the early and mid-‘60’s, Ben Hiatt was an integral part of the “Mimeo Revolution” in small press publishing.  In the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s he was a pioneer in what was to later become known as “Typewriter Offset” publishing. He was also an influential editor/publisher who published several literary magazines, including The Grande Ronde Review, Seared Eye, Nimbus Basin, Sacramento Poetry Express, The Mt. Aukum Review, The Hangtown Fry, and The Mountain Trader, a general-interest regional monthly magazine.

Over the years, Ben has designed, printed and bound scores of books by other poets and writers under several imprints, including Grande Ronde Press, Island City Press, The Sacramento Poetry Exchange, and Mt. Aukum Press.

Ben Hiatt also worked with California Poets in the Schools for fifteen years, teaching poetry writing to students in all grades from kindergarten to high school. Ben passed away in the summer of 2007.

The poems in this collection were all written in mid-December, 2004.


Ben L. Hiatt Poems


4 A.M. and
Somebody woke
The neighbor’s rooster up
I stepped outside just now
To feed my death
And listened while he
Tried to conjure up
A bright
December sun

No word
From the coyote
Down the ridge

This time of day
He’s curled up warm
Running loose and easy
As he tracks
His breakfast down

It’s that middle part
Of the nightmare
Where the broken edges
Go grinding off
Between the disappearing
And a day too new for naming

The clocks have stopped and
Almost everyone’s afraid
But they’ll get up
To cheer that rooster on
And listen for another,
Smoother song.








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