Joe Dolce has been a professional musician and songwriter, composer, performer, virtuoso blues harp and guitar player since 1969. He migrated to Australia in 1979 and in 1980 he wrote, produced and performed, 'Shaddap You Face' which was number one in eight countries, and which continues to hold the nine-times platinum record for the most successful song in Australian music history (450,000+ as of 2013). Hundreds of cover versions have been recorded with translations into 10 languages, including Papua New Guinea pidgin and the Australian Aboriginal language Indjibundji . Also in the 1980s, Dolce was the executive producer, lead guitarist and co-writer of the song, 'Intimacy', sung by Lin Van Hek, and included in the classic US sci-fi film, 'The Terminator'.
Dolce first became interested in poetry working with a Montreal English teacher, Matthew von Baeyer, in the early 70s, in Ohio and Rhode Island. They performed the poetry of Sylvia Plath, Dylan Thomas, Elizabeth Bishop, Yeats and many others as a duo, non-professionally, with von Baeyer reading and Dolce improvising on guitar. This early experience with a high standard of writing laid the foundation for a lifelong appreciation of poetry, which led to Dolce producing his own work. He has continued to set poetry to music, including the work of Sappho, Sylvia Plath, Les Murray, Andrew Lansdown, Ali Cobby Eckermann and a fifteen part song cycle of the poetry of CP Cavafy, ‘When the Lips and the Skin Remember’.
In 2009, Dolce began to write his own poetry and essays professionally. He began to think seriously about the writing of poetry criticism when he undertook an essay on the poetry of Leonard Cohen, and in particular focusing on the quality of Cohen's poetry from his peak in the mid-60s through his switch, from the late 60s onwards, to songwriting. This experience encouraged Dolce to write and publish his first book of poems Hatbox. One poem from this book was published in Island. In 2010, he made the acquaintance of poets Suzanne Edgar and Les Murray. This led to regular publication of his poetry, first in Quadrant and then in many other journals in Australia.
In 1981 Dolce received the Advance Australia Award and in 2010 he won the 25th Launceston Poetry Cup at the Tasmanian Poetry Festival.