The painter Erwin Bowien (1899-1972), a friend of the poet Heinen, and his wife Erna Heinen-Steinhoff (1898-1969) spent their entire lives trying to convince the poet to publish his works. After all, this would have been entirely possible for him as an important figure in the cultural life of Solingen and editor of the Solinger Tageblatt. However, he thought it would be highly disingenuous to exploit his position in such a way, and so his works remained restricted to the hundreds of private and public readings for the duration of his life. The majority of his poetic work would remain unpublished.
A contemporary of his, the successful writer and one-time resident of Solingen-Wald, Otto Gmelin, said to him: “You are all but one thing: vain”. This lack of vanity was accompanied by the journalist’s knowledge of the vast quantity of his writings and the doubt as to whether such a “naive creativity” in the Goethean sense would be believed from the journalist.
It is said that Hanns Heinen would descend the steep old staircase of his final abode, the Black House in Solingen, where the artist’s colony came into being; late at night he would say “one must always climb stairs”, and have “Mamms” (the name the family gave his beloved wife and muse) read his latest poem to him again and again until every line was said in the exact manner that he felt it. This waiting for a response from the heart was repeated over many years, throughout the terrible years of the war and the period of hunger that followed. It was their climber’s rope that helped the couple cross all precipices. It was a means of resonance and reminder, confession, delight and recovery when faced with the agony of events.
After the poet’s death in 1971, Bettina Heinen-Ayech published a series of his texts in a volume of poems under the title “From the Abundance of Life - Poems by Hanns Heinen”. The introduction was written by Erwin Bowien. Attentive readers of Heinen’s poetry will notice that Heinen applied the inexorable standards of classical poetry to his own work.