Written by Lucy Kirkpatrick
Photographed by Blair Bellaire
As an English Literature major with plans for pursuing further education in film studies, Hayden Dutschke is often distinguished by his filmmaker’s look: a jaunty beret above piercing eyes, a focus that sometimes suggests he sees the world in frames. Dressed in grey slacks and a tight black shirt, he tells me that he has always pictured himself growing up to be “some sort of an underground cult icon—like the 1977 punk rock heroes Patti Smith and Tom Verlaine.” He adores their ability to sustain creative passion in a time of social upheaval, he says, and even of chaos.
Hayden cherishes the “unexpected”—especially in corners of small towns like Anderson and Central, South Carolina, where he has spent the majority of his life. The incongruity of a thriving record store in unassuming Seneca, South Carolina prompts him to ask, “Why? How is this place still here?” But then he enters and buys another record to add to his collection, a collection crowned by his black Mitsubishi record player with the silver tone arm.
Hayden’s curiosity and creativity were fueled by his family but molded by his mother. His parents, both huge fans of fantasy and heavily involved in the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA)—a group dedicated to realistically recreating the cultures and battles of medieval history—introduced him to fencing and reading, and “pretty soon [he] started wanting to use words to make things.” Poetry, his genre of choice, first crossed his horizon in high school, where his teachers and mentors encouraged him to embrace a style of writing that was truly his: “one that is not afraid of absurdity.”
As a creator, Hayden tells me that he is open to trying anything and everything because he doesn’t want to be “a great poet, just a memorable one.” He laughs and his hands shoot up in exclamation. He must write, he says, because if he has something to say, good or bad, it needs to be said; widening his eyes, throwing his shoulders back, his whole body bespeaks his emphasis: if he doesn’t speak up, he fears, he “would go crazy.”
In this year’s edition of the journal, his poems “Puddle Pirates” and “Life Expectancy of a Downtown” showcase the source of his creativity in childhood memory as well as his drive to illuminate the meaning in the mundane, the life to be found in unexpected corners.