The Real Steve Henn - Warsaw, Indiana
While most teens spend their hour in English class desperately praying for a fire alarm or poorly attempting to hide behind their book as to not be seen or called upon by their teacher to read a paragraph aloud, Steve Henn not only welcomed the opportunity, he would often ask to read some of his own material with anticipation for laughter of his comedic style of writing. Looking back as an adult who has logged many hours of teaching high school English classes himself, the thought of being that ambitious to read to that audience does seem a bit bizarre. Unknown to Steve at that time was the fact that he was just beginning to bud as a young writer.
Today as a published writer, the Warsaw, Indiana native considers himself predominantly a poet and still enjoys reading live, just to a bit more refined audience. Although as any live performer knows, you are never quite sure what kind of audience you are going to address until you walk out and see the crowd. This can be a gut-wrenching experience for even the most seasoned performers every time they hit the stage, but Steve enjoys and relishes in the adventure of it. Preparing a set list can be a daunting procedure all on its own. Some poets depend on first reading the room and having a piece of work ready to fit the scene. Always confident in his prepared set list and his ability to read well, Steve channels his inner Bob Dylan and simply delivers.
Seeing the confidence he exudes on stage, it can be difficult to believe from the outside looking in that Steve has struggled with his own bouts of mental illness since childhood. Diagnosed or labeled by his psychiatrist as being bipolar and having anxiety disorder and ADHD, he lives a life so many others do, yet still so few understand and mischaracterized. After a suicide attempt in 1999, and a harrowing experience in a psychiatric ward that followed, he made a vow of sorts to himself to do whatever necessary to never go through that experience again. With ongoing treatment and medication, Steve continues to live and create. Poetry allows him to feel. Feeling, although it is a necessity, is sometimes the last thing you want to do. He understands the personal power behind art. As one of his writing heroes and fellow Indiana native the great Kurt Vonnegut said, “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.”
Steve strives to meet more people with his love of poetry and build his audience and be a voice in helping to de-stigmatize mental health issues. You can hear his words from an early audio recording, “I Am On Mental Health Pills,” and can read his messages through much of his poetry, but not all his work is so deep and heavy. He hasn’t let it define his life and he does not like to think of art as therapy. He does not even care for the debate. It is who he is and what he enjoys doing. Since his early days in school, Steve craves to make people laugh. His deadpan humor can be found in much of his work, and he hopes people understand the intent within. Like many comedians who may have struggled with their own issues, humor can be used to cope as well as to make it easier to bring awareness to subjects that affect all of us yet are hard for many to understand and discuss.
Visit Steve's website The Real Steve Henn