Steve Smith is the definition of an average "Joe."
He works hard at Ardmore Plumbing, has many friends, enjoys a good conversation and loves spending time with his family. On the surface nothing seems super extraordinary about him and he's perfectly content with that.
However, J. Stephen Smith is a different animal.
He has a deep, artistic side that is rarely shown to the public. J. Stephen enjoys writing poetry and is excited to take part in seminars and conferences about poetry. He even has published works in three books with another book and magazine publication in the works. He has been taped for an international television show and solid as a rock when reading his work, something Steve Smith might not jump so readily at doing.
But the truth of the matter is, J. Stephen Smith the poet and Steve Smith the plumbing store employee are one in the same.
Smith has been writing poetry for a number of years now, mostly to his wife and for himself. But on occasion, he's been known to break out a new piece and read it to his sister and wife.
"About a year ago, I got talked into entering my poetry into a contest," Smith said. "I didn't think much about it and it was quite some time before I heard anything."
But then he received a call saying his poem "Different" was a semi-finalist in a contest to be published in a book.
"They asked me if I wouldn't mind it being published, and I said 'sure, that's fine,'" he said modestly. "But it really didn't hit me how big a deal it was until what happened next."
Smith received another call, inviting him to PoetryFest 2013 in Reno, Nev. The gathering was of the top poetry minds in the world and some of the biggest celebrities in the game such as Ed Asner, who is famous for his film acting career.
Smith accepted the invite and for three days he had his life structured and scheduled much like any celebrity.
"I really got the treatment," he said. "Every minute of every day had a schedule to it. I was up early, out late, I had to read my poetry in front of different audiences then on camera, go to the seminars... It was really busy, but it was exciting."
Smith recalled one of his favorite classes he attended at the conference as a "speed" poetry situation. Smith, as well as everyone else in the room, was asked to write a poem in 20 minutes, then read it in front of everyone with the intended inflections and personality they wanted in it.
"That was tough.. fun, but tough," he said.
The style was in direct contrast to Smith's own style of writing.
"When I write something, it could take hours, days, even weeks to write," he said. "I'll start on it, get blocked or frustrated, so I'll step away from it for a while. Then I'll get an idea and come back to it... You really have to be in the mood for it, you can't just sit down and write it out and have a good poem.
"I'm a perfectionist too, so even when I finish a poem, I'll tweak it here and there until it's just right before I even read it out lout to myself or my sister and wife."
For his poetry getting published, Smith received a medal and was given an award for being a semi-finalist and having a his poetry read and taped for a TV program.
"It was really a great experience," he said. "The people were nice, the hotel was nice, the event was really nice. Everyone treated me with a lot of respect and said they really liked my poetry.
"I don't really look the part of a poet, but that's what was great about this conference. A lot of people didn't really 'look' like poets, they were just average people like me who liked to write poetry."
Smith's sister, Twaula Smith, and his friend Tim Williams also went to the conference with him a support. Twaula said since Steve has begun his recent journey, he has sort of "broken out of his shell" a little.
"He's a changed person since he came back," she said. "He left Steve Smith and came back J. Stephen Smith, the poet."