Friday, January 24, 2014

Poetry, Poetry, Poetry...

Well it's that time again, time for the Woodland Pattern Poetry Marathon
Saturday 1-25-2014
Always a great event for the city.

The Sunday Morning Poets will be reading in the 3pm-4pm slot, though the event runs from 10am-1am

Come out and support the arts in Milwaukee... it is actually more than just poetry -you may be treated to  some local as well as some not-so local talent singing or performing music

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Woodland Pattern Poetry Marathon 2013

Join us Saturday, January 26, 2013 for the 19th Annual Poetry Marathon Benefit Reading for Woodland Pattern Book Center, 720 East Locust Street.

The Sunday Morning Press poets will be reading during the 7-8 pm time slot.

See and hear some excellent new poems and support a great cause!

More info here.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Toast to Poe

    How can we find fault with someone who espouses that “beauty is truth” and that poems are truth reflected in forms of beauty? Edgar Allan Poe was such a person; a solitary, dark, unhappy, brilliant, philosopher, critic, and storyteller who championed beauty and love.
    Most of his poetry laments the loss of an idealized heroine. “The death of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world”.*  His princesses are irretrievably lost and gone forever.
    His poems were written with a musical quality and with purposeful strangeness. He feared the permanence of death, yet he has proven to be immortal with his unforgettable words and works. What schoolboy has not read and remembered:
           It was many and many a year ago,
           In a kingdom by the sea,
          That a maiden there lived whom you may know
          By the name of Annabel Lee; ………. 

    And the poem, “The Raven” a symbol of never ending remembrance:
         Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,  
         Suddenly there came a tapping, ……..
         ….Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

But we must be cautious in relegating a drink and a toast to this genius, because alcohol was the chief cause of many of his problems and his early death. A moderate choice is, however quite easy. For 60 years, starting in 1949 (centennial of his death) every Jan. 19, a toast occurred with cognac and 3 roses on Poe’s grave by anonymous “Poe Toasters”.

*Braddy, Haldeen: Three Dimensional Poe, Univ. of Texas, El Paso, 1973

Elliot O. Lipchik

Thursday, November 1, 2012


              SONG OF EVERYMAN

    Both poetry and music can be read and heard repeatedly. Both can be memorized and certainly one can learn from and listen again and again to masterful poems.  Perhaps my preferential search for a defined rhythm of expression and logical reasoning has led me away from “language, undecipherable” poetry and atonal music, and continually back to WALT WHITMAN.

If anyone can unlock imagination, with clear, often emotional, impelling language, it is Whitman. He imparts the joy of existence and was the most humane, as well as actively the most humanistic of all our poets. As a witness to the Civil War, he 
described its horrors and the injustice of slavery. Yet, he did not neglect in spirit or writing, the miracles of nature and the basic, often thwarted goodness of man. His idealism of the human soul knew no bounds.

How can we associate the genius and complexity of Whitman with the pleasure of a particular libation? As a young man, he claimed to have been drunk when he wrote an unsuccessful temperance novel. But, I could find no reference in his poetry to any specific alcoholic drink. Can we find a drink to also mirror Whitman’s forceful personality, his charisma and his atrocious self promotion?

     “I believe in the flesh and the appetites………in eating, drinking and breeding”*

He was self taught, never progressing beyond grade school. On his own he studied scientific theory, biology, geology and voraciously read great works of literature.
Though he hobnobbed with great writers and artists, and entertained visiting eminent poets from abroad, he never lost his ardor and love of the common man.

     “Whoever degrades another degrades me”*

I propose a toast with any true, strong drink, whether a home made brew or the finest cognac that any or all would choose, to this supreme idealist, this optimist, this lover of Lincoln and the common man, who preached:

     “…… not to worship a God, but the divinity innate in each individual self.”*

*= all quotes from Leaves of Grass.

Elliot O. Lipchik

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wallace Stevens

 Wallace Stevens, the intellectual deep thinking American poet had early interest in writing poetry, but achieved success and fame only later in middle age. His great poetry was composed after many years as a lawyer and as vice-president of a prestigious insurance company. The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry was awarded him just before he died at age 75. 

    Often, the meaning and philosophy behind his poems are obscure and difficult to decipher. There is confusion and there are varying theories about what he means by,
“supreme fiction”, “death is the mother of beauty” and a “blue guitar”. Certainly, he was anti religion if its main focus stressed a spiritual afterlife.
             What is divinity if it can come
             Only in silent shadows and in dreams?

There is no reality, just imagination he explains. Though his imaginative constructs can run wild, stay with his poems and get carried along on the ride. Stick with him
because there are many poems of elegant simplicity and delight.
        I measure myself
        Against a tall tree
        I find that I am much taller
       For I reach right up to the sun
       With my eye;
       And I reach to the shore of the sea
       With my ear.
       Nevertheless, I dislike
       The way the ants crawl
       In and out of my shadow.     

   The martini is quintessentially American, though gin has its origin in the Middle Ages. According to H. L. Mencken this cocktail is “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet”. Stevens liked his cocktails and probably after one too many, argued with and alienated Robert Frost. In Key West he reportedly broke his hand
in a fight with Hemingway and got knocked into the street.  They never reconciled.
     To continue reading his works, I recommend a relaxing sip of the highest quality gin martini stirred or shaken on ice to cool any reactive volcanic emotions.

Elliot O. Lipchik

Sunday, July 15, 2012

W.B. Yeats


I stumble as if drunk when I read Yeats. I become uncertain, perhaps confused of my knowledge and beliefs. He buffets me as in a wind storm. Unsteady, I must sit, re-gather my wits. Drink, not necessary, my mind already addled as if I “had one too many”. I name him the great enchanter.  His spirituality and imagination rooted in the agricultural, idyllic, mythical past of Ireland are applicable to all people of all countries.

No other poet plunged so deeply into themes of life and death, love and hate and
all the conundrums of man’s condition. He says all with magnetic imagination and power and often song-like rhythms propelling the reader deeper and deeper into the confusion of life.

He pined for the heroic past age. Life never fulfills its promises and dreams. He abhorred withering old age yet accepted mortality and always insisted on the power of the word and the imagination. Although he often wrote of erotic love and beauty, and his belief in mystical symbolism, he could be funny, physical and anti clerical as in his “Crazy Jane” poems. He was touched by and touches us all with “faerie” dust.

     “Wine comes in at the mouth

     And love comes in at the eye

     That’s all we shall know for truth

     Before we grow old and die”

-Elliot O. Lipchik