LIVE EVENT HISTORY : Steve's formative reading experiences include time on stage at Happy Soul Kitchen (Winona Lake, IN circa 1993-4), the 9th Street Deli (Columbia Missouri circa 1994), the Maple Leaf Grille open mic night (Warsaw, Indiana, in the 2000s), and he has more recently featured at the Green Mill, Chicago (home of the original poetry Slam, the Uptown Poetry Slam hosted by Marc Smith), in the visiting writer series at IU-South Bend, in the Indianapolis Poetry Slam, and at various bars, coffeehouses, and art galleries. Too many to recount.
BOOKING THE REAL STEVE HENN : Steve probably goes over best at venues where alcohol is served. Nevertheless he's capable of playing bars, bar mitzvahs, barbecues, weddings, funerals, group therapy meetings, occupy protests, tea parties, social clubs, basement parties, block parties, and colleges. If you book him, be prepared to laugh, and don't feel embarrassed for him.
To book Steve for a reading email him at theRealSteveHenn@gmail.com or use the contact form located here.
Almost 1-hour of the Real Steve Henn in his live incarnation, reading passages from his plethora of released publications. Mastering the Monotone contains the live reading in full from April 27th, 2013 at the St. Regis Club in Warsaw as well as enhanced content consisting of photos, release art & press one-sheets.
March 17, 2014
By John Grochalski
I became aware of the poetry of Steve Henn not by accident. In October 2013 we were both asked to participate in the 3rd Annual Long Beach Poetry Festival. Being the investigative prick that I am I went through the list of readers for the event and tried to find their poems online to get a good sense of what they'd be putting me through that day. I already knew what I'd be putting people through that day. There were quite a few poets on the list that struck me. For sure Steve Henn was one of them. There was a biting wit to the sample poems that I read and in the book that I bought, And God Said: Let There Be Evolution!. A willingness to take on everyone from big government to his home state of Indiana down to the people Henn shared a roof with. To say that Steve's poems are funny simply undersells them. They are riotous at times. Never hurtful or mean but direct and to the point. Poignant too. You know the subject Matter that Henn is going after and revel in how he weaves the words to get down to it. Take this poem from Henn's 2011 book Unacknowledged Legislations:
Have You Ever Been to Walmart?
Oh, man! Have you ever been to Walmart and really looked around at all those people? Simians everywhere. Cro-Magnons. Half-men half-monkeys. Cave women with no light in their eyes. I can't figure out if people go to Walmart because they're stupid, or if they become stupid because they go to Walmart. I'm in there 1/2 hour ago picking up toe nail clippers, a garden hose, the latest Rascal Flats CD, an XL T-shirt with a Bugs Bunny University logo, and a wheel of Sam's Choice liverwurst-you know, regular Walmart stuff-and I'm waiting to check out, and it's like I have this cosmic brain reaction to where I can see everybody's IQ shimmering above their heads like tongues of flame, and most of 'em are like 72, 74, 63... and then I have this total paranoid hallucination that since I came in the sliding doors the Rapture had begun, only Jesus is this complete intellectual elitist with meaningless PhDs in Transubstantiation and Creationist Evolution and Middle Eastern Surrealist Literature, and all the intelligent people have-poof! you know, gone above, and somehow I got Left Behind with some presidential Antichrist poised to lead an army of nimrods into genocide of the remaining intelligentsia so I've got this total intellectual inferiority complex compounded by the fact that some perverted form of Christianity is making the Universe go 'round, and then I realize that I let my medication lapse over a week ago so I beeline to the pharmacy, begging God all the while to make my heart stop beating before downing in a sea of idiots like the antihero of a '70s sci-fi movie starring Charlton Heston as Satan's right hand man.
See what I mean? Now if you don't feel like that every time you step inside a Walmart you need to have a deep conversation with yourself.
Half of the joy in the poetry of Steve Henn is seeing him perform it. I got that pleasure at the Long Beach Poetry Festival, and thanks to the release of Mastering The Monotone: Live Readings by Steve Henn, you too can have the pleasure of seeing and hearing Mr. Henn read his poems to an audience. Clocking in at just under an hour this DVD is a primer for the clever, bold, dare I say, acerbic genius, of Steve Henn. Through 20 jam packed poems done in a neon-drenched club atmosphere us viewers are taken along with Henn as he hilariously goes after everyone from the religious, to big pharmacy conglomerates, to the government, to Bob Dylan and his good buddy Nate White. Not to sound redundant but Steve Henn is funny. And funny works for me with poetry. There isn't enough humor in poetry. It's sort of my bread and butter. And it works for Steve Henn too.
But above the humor and above the audience's laughter there exists a melancholy, existential, self-flagellating vibe. A sadness if you will. That yin-yang of conflicting emotions adds to the depth and overall point that Steve Henn is trying to make with his poetry. And what is that? Well, its poetry and poetry is subjective. For me reading Steve Henn, and now being able to view him read his poems in this great DVD, is that of being stuck in America, in the heartland, in jobs and marriages and relationships that take such a delicate balance of self one can go mad. But instead of doing that why not have a laugh, and try to get through life without it becoming such a heavy weight.
Everything on Mastering The Monotone is great. It's essential Steve Henn. For me the stand out poems as read are: I'm From Indiana, The Truth About Gun Violence, I am a Poet (Henn's admitted favorite poem), What I'd Hope I'd Say to Any of My Wife's Friends Who Offered to Do Me, Letter to a Student, When I Peed Myself at the Bob Dylan Show, and Royal Rumble: Gay Pride Parade and Klan Demonstration.
Henn does go off the rails occasionally with poems that bury themselves so deeply in sarcasm that they seem devoid of all human compassion. In "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Splash Park," the poem's narrator wishes he had a camera ready so he could photograph a man walking around with a urinary drainage bag peaking out of his shorts: "At this point Bag-Of-Piss-Man's existence is about as verifiable / as the existence of the Sasquatch... "
Hoosier Delight: Light, Pleasant Entertainment in these Dark, Troubled Times
December 17th, 2016 /// Oak & Alley /// Warsaw, IN
- see Steve, Sarah Miller Freehauf, Erica Anderson-Senter, a possible Poet to be Named Later and jazz trio Shaken Not Stirred in the downstairs lounge
December 2015 /// Oak & Alley /// Warsaw, IN
- Poetry and jazz show with jazz trio Shaken Not Stirred and poets Sarah Miller Freehauf, Clayton Michaels, Erica Anderson-Senter
Stupider Than Cupider
June 2015 /// Oak & Alley /// Warsaw, IN
- A meeting of great minds, featuring the Warsaw, IN School of Poetics performing in person (and through the internet).
Hiptown Poetry Hipshow
February 2015 /// Oak & Alley /// Warsaw, IN
- Jazz, poetry, and highly dubious professions of undying love and/or casual, fleeing affection.
Long Beach Poetry Festival
October 2013 /// Liberty Art Gallery and Event Space /// Long Beach, CA
- The 3rd annual gathering of regional and national poets, writers, and wordsmiths.
MASTERING THE MONOTONE
April 2013 /// St. Regis Club /// Warsaw, IN
- Steve's longest and one of his most noteworthy reading/performances. The entire show is available for purchase as a DVD.
IUSB FALL WRITERS SERIES READER
September 2012 /// Indiana University South Bend /// South Bend, IN
- Steve's first major reading/performance on a college campus, to what Clayton Michaels of IUSB claimed was one of the largest crowds for one of the most talked about readings they hosted in quite a while.
LUBEZNIK CENTER SLAM
April 2012 /// Lubeznik Center /// Michigan City, IN
- After entering and winning the inaugural Lubeznik Center (art gallery/center) poetry slam in 2011, Steve returned as a featured performer at the J.W. Basilo-hosted slam in 2012.
HEARTHSIDE READING SERIES
December 2011 /// Filler's Hearth /// South Bend, IN
- Steve featured at the S.B. literary show founded by poet and IUSB lecturer Clayton Michaels.
UPTOWN POETRY SLAM MWPA
August 2011 /// Green Mill /// Chicago, IL
- This MWPA feature with David Thompson and Oren Wagner was once again at the renowned slam venue, with the regrettable absence of Kaveh Akbar.
INDIANAPOLIS POETRY SLAM (SOLO FEATURE)
April 2011 /// Local's Only /// Indianapolis, IN
- Steve had the mixed fortune of doing a halftime show for an unusual Locals Only crowd of basketball fans, cheering on Butler in the NCAA finals. He brought the house down.
UPTOWN POETRY SLAM FEATURE
January 2010 /// Green Mill /// Chicago, IL
- Steve and Oren Wagner as a dynamic duo for their first time at the biggest stage in the slam world, Slam creator Marc's Smith's founding show.
MIDWEST POETRY ALL STARS
October 2009 /// Black Sparrow Bar /// West Lafayette, IN
- 4-poet show featuring Steve Henn, Oren Wagner, David J. Thompson, and Kaveh Akbar.