Current City, State, Country
Birth City, State, Country
Dick Westheimer has—in the company of his wife and writing companion Debbie—lived, gardened and raised five children on their plot of land in rural southwest Ohio. Poetry has become a third-act obsession for Dick since largely retiring in late 2019. Dick is a is a Rattle Poetry Prize finalist and his most recent poems have appeared in Whale Road Review, Minyan, Rattle, Paterson Review, Chautauqua Review and Gyroscope Review and has been the featured guest on “Rattlecast” in conversation with Rattle editor Timothy Green about Dick’s poetics, his self constructed “people’s MFA” and his emergence as a late-in-life convert to poetry. Poet’s proceeds from sales of his first chapbook, A Sword in Both Hands, Poems Responding to Russia’s War on Ukraine, have raised over $600 for UkraineTrustChain.
Dick enjoys his (too) large vegetable garden, picking bluegrass music with his neighbors, running and walking the trails on his and nearby farms, and gazing at the stars whenever night sky conditions permit.
What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?
In my poem “An American Jew Fails to Make Sense of the Carnage in Gaza” I write, “I can’t stop /crying—anymore than I can stop being a Jew” — which might be paraphrased “I can’t stop writing poems—anymore than I can stop being a Jew.” My Judaism, which some would describe as cultural/humanistic suffuses my life with ritual, with textual inquiry, with an obsession with questions (a la the Seder textual pedagogy) and a cultural history of outsider status. And while my parents were not familiar with the term, “Tikkun olam” was the currency traded at our dinner table growing up. My poetry is informed by all of these in equal measure—both directly as lines of text and my experience as an American Jew find their ways into my work—and indirectly as my values, historic memory, relationship with text, and outsider status (especially in rural southwest Ohio) make up who I am as a writer and member of the community of poets.
A Sword in Both Hands: Poems Responding to Russia’s War on Ukraine (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2022)
Links to Sample Works
Clark University, B.A. in Sociology and Education, 1975
The Union Institute, Ph.D. in Education Policy and Interdisciplinary Research Methods, 1995