Stepanek’s life as a writer commenced, as most writers' do,
with a dramatic and heart-wrenching story. His elder brother Jamie, the
only sibling Mattie had ever known, passed away from the same disease
with which Mattie would struggle the whole of his. Mattie lost Jamie
when he was only three, leaving the sensitive boy confused and sad.
Though he was only just learning to read and write, Mattie began
composing poetry to express his emotion. With the help of his mom,
Jeni, and a tape recorder, Mattie created hundreds of poems, focusing
on life, death, God, sadness, and joy, among other diverse subjects.
Mattie’s most moving poetry, however, centered around a
simple concept—the story of a Heartsong,
a personal melody that, with a simple heartbeat, intoned a mantra for
Though Mattie was recognized for his writings early into his life, it
was not until 2001 that his dream of being published was finally
realized. In a joint
effort, Hyperion Books and VSP Books released his first collection,
based on his mantra and entitled Heartsongs.
The popularity of the book eventually spawned four more compilations of
Through Heartsongs, which
topped the bestseller charts, Hope
Through Heartsongs, Celebrate
Through Heartsongs, and Loving
The success of Heartsongs
prompted a “book on tape” featuring Mattie himself,
as well as a music CD of some of the poems transposed into music and
performed by young country artist Billy Gilman.
Mattie continued to contribute poetry during his life; many of his
poems were made available to read through the Internet and donated to
various causes. Mattie also collaborated on other works of prose and
poetry until the end of his life.
All five Heartsongs
books are available through local retailers, as well as online through
book chains such as Amazon.com
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