The Only Light Coming In / Joseph Hardy

Joseph_HardyJoseph Hardy is the author of the poem “Trial and Error” published in Third Wednesday’s Summer 2020 issue, and that appears in his new book of poetry, The Only Light Coming In. He is one of a handful of writers that live in Nashville, Tennessee, sho does not play a musical instrument; although a friend once asked him to bring his harmonica on a camping trip so they could throw it in the fire. His wife says he cannot leave a room without finding out something about everyone in it, and telling her their stories later. 

This, his first book of poetry, and can be found on Amazon at: : joseph hardy the only light coming in or at

The_Only_Light_Coming_In_coverPage turner, The Only Light Coming In, will make you both smile and reflect. This collection of poems has some unforgettable lines. The last line of “Two Stop Lights, One Diner” reads “Her feet must be killing her,” came as an unexpected twist and shows a great empathy by the author. The opening line of “Once Love, In An Italian Restaurant,” reads “At a table for two, Love threw hot escargot at me,” and so makes it an impossibility not to be immediately drawn in. While “I’m thinking of going bland” may be a poetic device, it is not easily forgotten. A seamlessly flowing and intriguing debut collection by Joseph Hardy. Kay Thompson Fields, journalist

Entangled with the ghosts of his past, Mr. Hardy works to make sense of his past. He moves toward understanding his failures, and the self-destructive decisions of those he has loved. His memories are fluid, unsparing. The universality of relationships, an irony of daily life, is what grips the reader as events of their own lives come to pass. This is no simple despair. Each day raises specific, a struggle with his inner life, sometimes troubling, always trustworthy.  Stellasue Lee, Ph.D., author of Queen of Jacks, New & Selected Poems

It may sometimes be too early, but it’s never too late, to come of age. In wise lyrics and compelling narratives, Joe Hardy’s The Only Light Coming In gives us hypnotic eloquence mixed with intricate truth. Logic isn’t good enough—“beating a drum with no hand / as logic tries to do”—but the art of waiting, of honesty’s eventuality, is praised. Hardy’s poems remind us constantly that we’re “full of waiting;” they are quirkily meditative, populated with dreams both real and imagined. The poet tells us “I should go to bed and dream, / catch whatever comes into me, / up from me, // acknowledge / I am a stranger to myself / in this place.” In poems accessible but rich in music and implication, Hardy desires to capture what can be held of what’s most slippery. Hardy’s is an expansive, profound debut full of one man’s quest to be both broken and fiercely alive. Gary McDowell, author of Aflame (White Pine Press, 2020)

I come to poetry for arresting imagery and for phrases that make me grin or that stop me in my tracks. I come to poetry to sit with a familiar feeling like an old friend, and to leave with a fresh thought like a new companion.  I come to poetry wanting stories I can follow and that transport me back to stories of my own.  I come to poetry hoping to feel the wonder of “Hmmm, I hadn’t thought of it like that before,” and to feel the envy of “Damn, I wish I had thought of that!”  This collection of poems by Joseph Hardy possesses an abundance of all these elements. And as happens to me when I enjoy the gifts offered in generous poetry, I left this book feeling blessed and grateful.   Ramon Presson, author of When Will My Life Not Suck?, The Roles of a Lifetime, I’m Not (Totally) Making This Up, and Voice Lessons

Coming in September from 3rd Wednesday

frontcoverfall2020The fall issue featuring:

  • Winning stories from our annual George Dila Memorial Flash Fiction Contest.
  • Student poetry from Inside/Out Literary Arts
  • New work from:
    Ron Koertge, Marge Piercy, Jack Ridl, Brian Kates, Claire Rubin, Buff Whitman-Bradley, James Crews, Richard Luftig, M.J. Iuppa, Caroline Maun, Rustin Larson and many others.

Poems From InsideOut Literary Arts

Since 1995, InsideOut Literary Arts has helped nearly 60,000 of Detroit’s youth build their literary and academic skills through creative writing. Widely recognized as one of the nation’s premiere writers-in-the-schools programs, InsideOut has earned many accolades, from a feature on PBS News Hour to a performance on the stage of the Kennedy Center.

In each quarterly issue of 3rd Wednesday we partner with InsideOut to feature a number of poems produced by participating students. Here are five from our summer issue, on sale now in print at and which can be enjoyed free in PDF format at our website.

Trompe L’oeil / David Chorlton

3rd Wednesday’s poem of the week from the summer issue. David Chorlton, a frequent contributor the 3W said, “These are strange times, and sending these messages-as-poems out from home seems a way of breaking out of social distancing. These poems have spent some time in isolation themselves, but they stood out on my revisiting unpublished work as having a silence or atmospheric note that echoes where we are in March of 2020.”

After Before / Jane Blanchard

AfterBeforeJane Blanchard’s newest poetry collection After Before has a steady rhythm page to page, moving from short to long form and back again, signaling a fearless passing of time and seasons. A youngster is roused to “soar into the sky” without fear of death in “Take Flight, My Child.” A mother breastfeeds fearlessly in “Sustenance” as an aging beachgoer frolics shamelessly in his Speedo in “Out and About at Dawn.” Blanchard’s words illuminate the journey of anyone panning life’s moments for gold while courageously facing down “fools and facts and fears and such.”
     —Lori Cameron, editor, The Penwood Review

Where to begin? Nearly every poem has at least one passage that deserves quoting. Even the short, untitled verses between poems offer food for thought or bring a smile. This is a large and delightful collection, technically skillful, varied in subject, sharp in observation, and fun to read. After Before is the best collection I have read in a long time.
     —Jack Hart, editor, Ship of Fools

The comforting metaphors and well-modulated rhythms in Jane Blanchard’s After Before are like eavesdropping on the secrets best friends whisper to one another—or the confessions of a long marriage where terseness and gentle humor are always appreciated. You’ll be glad you listened in. 
     —Jerry Bradley, poetry editor, Concho River Review


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