When Bob Morehead was 12, he was stricken with a sudden revelation while sitting in his junior high school study hall, “You’re a writer!”
From there, he took up a pen and began writing. His first work, “Maple Leaf,” Morehead said was a rather inferior short story, highly derivative of “Huckleberry Finn,” which he’d been reading at the time, that no longer exists.
“The quality of the story is irrelevant; what matters is it set me on a lifetime path,” Morehead said. “The beginnings of a science fiction novel followed, as did several more science fiction short stories. None of those have survived, either, but they helped me hone my craft.”
Now, more than 40 years later, Morehead, who still lives in Barberton, discovered a chance to share his poetry with the world by publishing his first book, “Thoughts on Being: A Collection of Lyrical Verse,” which was released Thursday, April 29.
Morehead weaves verse in his own verse in his own style, one that eschews more than 100 years of poetic convention, drawing on styles from before that.
Morehead said when he had enough poems saved up to think about publishing a collection, he started looking for a publisher.
“This wasn’t easy and it’s nothing new. While the U.S. has produced some well-regarded poets, you wouldn’t know it from the American publishing scene. Robert Frost was first published in Great Britain. Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman self-published their first collections. I walk somewhere between them. My publisher, like Frost’s, is in the U.K.,” Morehead said.
In June 2020, about three months after submitting, Morehead said he received a reply that his book had been accepted.
“I was offered an ‘inclusive contract.’ I was given the same editorial, design and publicity services I would have had if they’d bought the manuscript,” Morehead said, “but I had to shoulder part of the setup and production costs. The COVID stimulus helped with that.”
Morehead said it wasn’t long into his commitment to be a professional writer when he observed that for every fiction writer who made it big there were a thousand upselling fries on a burger order.
“But I also noted that journalists write every day and draw a steady paycheck,” Morehead said. “A few of life’s characteristic unexpected twists notwithstanding, this was a career path I sustained, even while wearing my country’s uniform.”
Morehead served in the United States Coast Guard from January 1985 to October 1996. There, he wrote news releases and articles for internal publications and had a few service-related stories published in some magazines. He also received military diplomas in journalism and photography.
Morehead continued his journalistic career as a writer and columnist for The Barberton Herald, starting in 1999. Over the next two decades, Morehead’s journalistic passion, which includes a passion for photography, led him to work for a photography company and The Post Newspapers until his return to The Barberton Herald in spring 2020.
Morehead has had his fair share of publishing opportunities.
“About a half-dozen of the poems in the collection were first published in The Barberton Herald, which graciously gave me permission to reprint them,” Morehead said.
Morehead has won many awards over the years for his writing, including four this year alone. He has also written a half-dozen new poems since the book was submitted for publication.
Morehead’s writing spans many topics, including youth, life, poverty, religion, history and love poems for the love of his life and wife of 31 years, Ida.
Morehead said he likes pulling words together to paint a mental picture, something you can do even with something as potentially straight-forward as a news story.
“In my prose, I try to tread a line between erudite and conversational. That latter lost me some points in college, where they’re allergic to contractions. My poetry harkens back to the 19th century. I just don’t like ‘modern’ verse form, which is neither form nor verse, really,” Morehead said.
The vast majority of his work makes careful use of rhyme and meter and Morehead said he’s particularly fond of the sonnet.
“I prefer Rembrandt to Jackson Pollock,” Morehead said. “And I prefer John Keats to E.E. Cummings.”
Outside of being a published author, Morehead keeps busy as a deacon and adult Sunday school teacher for the Barberton First Church of Christ and enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons and board games, particularly go and the Japanese version of chess. He also enjoys going to festivals and celebrating his Scottish heritage, which he traced on both sides of his family back to the 14th century.
Morehead said he has no intention of retiring from journalism anytime soon and shared advice for a budding poet or writer.
“Don’t give up, don’t get discouraged and don’t be ashamed to go abroad or pick up a share of the printing tab. You’re in good company, with Whitman, Frost and Poe,” Morehead said.