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

Thursday, June 28, 2012


   the most quoted and quotable poet in American literature.  Who in America is not familiar with:

       “….and miles to go before I sleep”

       “The Road Not Taken”  

       the poem, “The Gift Outright” read at JFK’s inauguration 

       “Good fences make good neighbors”?

If not recognized, that person must be living on another planet.

     Frost’s personal life was plagued with grief and loss; an alcoholic father, mental illness in the immediate family, deaths of several young children. He, his wife and mother all suffered from depressive episodes. His epitaph: “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world”. 

   Most of his poetry stays clear of religion and politics. He writes of men alone in an indifferent universe. Yet, he uses metaphors of nature to illustrate man’s condition. With much ironic humor and conversational language describing ordinary situations such as walking along a country road and rural life settings, complex social and philosophical themes are explored.

   I believe he did not drink alcohol, but did write a poem about cider, “In A Glass of Cider”.  Therefore, I toast him with both a glass of cider and clear, cool water drawn

from a well on a New England farm.

Elliot O. Lipchik

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Range of a Poet's Focus

Some poets' eyes are trained on their community, city, state, on their life experiences on a farm, in the northwoods or their respective family experiences, and, as such, those poets are often tagged as a poet of their city, state or region. While I probably secretly wish that I could hang a hook on one of the above, it appears that I simply cannot do so.

As I noted in the preface to my book, The Silent Tango of Dreams, a realization that I have developed over the course of my adult life is that there is no geographic place that I can boast of as my home. Rather, I have come to realize, much like the peripatetic writer, Pico Ayer, that I am really a person of the world, not of any one town, village, city or nation. I have learned that my home is in my heart where my love and the love of others toward me resides, and that, on the scale of things, is what is really important and dear to me. Given my what might be termed my nomadic existence as a child living in different parts of the United States, my subsequent foreign language studies, Peace Corps experiences in Chile, marriage to a woman from the Caribbean, and my numerous travels and stints living abroad, I cannot help but to have an international perspective and respect for other cultures.

I believe that my poems collectively represent, to a large extent, this condition of mine, one that I proudly embrace like a global nationhood in this often confusing though fascinating world of ours. The world has offered me what I regard as an international citizenship, one that my poems fondly embrace.

—Stephen Anderson


Charles Bukowski was a hero during the anti-establishment era of the 60’s; a time when boozing, drugs and abusive rhetoric were mythologized and sanctified. Anything or anyone against the status quo and the pursuit of wealth was despised. How society has changed!

    “Drink, write and fuck” defined life for Bukowski. He hated rules and regulations, was appalled by Disney and Mickey Mouse for not having souls. He claimed to dislike the human race and considered most people and talk, boring. Freud would have a field day!

   His poetic style was without metaphor, directly self-referral and autobiographical. But, the violence he reports must have been imagined since I suspect he never had the skill or courage or else was too drunk to punch anyone.

   He did have the jealous gall to rail against the “greats”. He preferred to see them suffer: “I like to read about Joyce blind and prowling……G. B. Shaw ….a bore”*

   Stephen Holden called him a “cantankerous misanthrope and professional low life”** who wanted to piss on his competitors. Donald Hall named him a “bogus proletarian”.

         playing it out    

 I keep trying these

 drunk poems

 sitting on this chair

 smoking too many…..

 not understanding anything

 and finally

 not wanting to.

   How shall I fit him into a category of drink and poetry? Is the answer to open a bottle of the cheapest Italian red wine and let it stand in my view as I read and compose?

*The Last Generation, C.B.
**Poetry Foundation Biography

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


   William Carlos Williams, a quintessential American poet of immigrant mixed nationality parents; born, resided, practiced medicine, and died in a small town in New Jersey.

   How shall we propose a toast to him and with which libation? What can we sip while reading his poetry? Which beverage would help us simplify the contradictory and complex workings of his mind and art?  He probably did not imbibe, but empathized and learned from those who did. With enormous unquenchable energy he delivered babies, practiced pediatrics, listened patiently and sympathetically to those he treated, and wrote prodigiously.

   In contrast to T.S.Eliot, love and imagination were the essence of life for him. He broke with Pound and Eliot insisting they abandoned America in favor of Europe’s old world culture and its morose view of the future.  All Williams’ works were derived from the observations of every day circumstances of the lives of common people.   ……blossoming, thriving, opening, reviving….”*,  were the tenets of  his positive philosophy of the future.

  Thus, we must find a potion, truly, wholly and simply American. Beer comes to mind, if brewed and bottled in New Jersey.  More apropos may be an American original Bourbon or pure backwoods American Moonshine, shockingly and wonderfully raw, but possibly lacking imagination and precision. Both might induce something vivid, Zen-like, providing “images not ideas”.  After a “few” we may grasp his early Cubist restructuring of reality.

   Join me in this plethora of offerings. WCW is worth the exploration.

                                          *In the American Grain, WCW.

Elliot O. Lipchik

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Pablo Neruda (nee Basoalto) is in my estimation, the greatest poet of the 20th Century, who has intimate, deep relevance today. Student, teacher, editor, diplomat, politician, myth sayer, Nobelist, and most importantly, humanist.

A fiery poet of leftist politics and love, stirring both body and soul, rebellious against superficial manners and inane social customs which hide nature’s and man’s beauty and justice.

 I toast his myths, imagination and humor. I drink to his understanding of “love” and his language of every day life.

How shall I pair this word genius, this multi dimensional poet with a specific wine? Do I do him justice with the finest champagne, the most carefully constructed cognac, the most elegant and complex Chilean wine?  My words are stifled, drowned by the dramatic, sensual tsunami of his thoughts and talent.

       “I drink to the word, raising

        a word or a shining cup;

        in it I drink

       the pure wine of language……..

       ……cup and water and wine

       give rise to my song”

               from “The Word” by Neruda.

Elliot O. Lipchik

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Taste of T. S. Eliot

Since the ancient Greeks to the present time poems about wine are abundant. I shall follow a different path by pairing poets and their non-wine poems to a particular grape or wine or, perhaps a drink. Hopefully,

this will provide an added understanding of the poets and their work.

   Not all poems or wine are savory. Some may be bitter, spoiled, sulfurous, or exaggerated by pomposity or chemicals. Others may be simple or sweet, full bodied and complex, or subtly mature.

   My first example reflects on the character and philosophy of T. S. Eliot,

a Nobel prized, modernist poet with a love of cats, but with a serious flaw of deep anti-semitism. 

        “The rats are underneath the piles.

        The jew is underneath the lot” *

Thus, I suggest medicinally bitter herbal wine while reading his work.

Those concoctions may be potently emetic to some, but concurrently complex and perhaps intellectually stimulating.

 *Burbank With A Baedeker, Bleistein With A Cigar    

 Elliot O. Lipchik                              

Friday, March 16, 2012

Milk Metaphors

Both Robert Hass and Wislawa Szmborska and perhaps others have written meaningful, beautiful poems about Vermeer's milkmaid painting.

As long as the milk pours, there is a future and a hope for the world. The luminous pouring white reminds
one of a reading of poetry, a continuous chorus, an expectancy of life, a nourishment for the soul, a never ending negation of evil.
Art may represent a myriad of thoughts, ideas, creations, and creativity. It instructs us to listen and observe slowly and carefully.

to be continued...
(posted by Elliot O. Lipchik)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Book Release Event, Friday (March 9)

Everyone is invited to drop by Woodland Pattern Book Center (720 E. Locust) on Friday for the 'official' debut of Portals and Piers.  We'll be celebrating the book's release, reading poems, answering questions and generally having a good time.  Reading begins at 7pm. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Milwaukee to host small press festival


Poetry News

Midwest Small Press Festival

By Harriet Staff
Poets in the Milwaukee area may want to check out the First Annual Midwest Small Press Festival running from June 1st through the 3rd. Their mission:
As a small group of Writers, Bookmakers, and Artists in Milwaukee we are planning an event to celebrate the regional accomplishments in the burgeoning small press movement. We hope our efforts in organizing the first Midwest Small Press Festival in the city of Milwaukee will prove successful in establishing a regional network of literary investment, productive ingenuity, and artistic engagement. We hope to set in motion a traveling institution, in which each annual installment hails from a new municipality, furthering the regional ownership of the festival, an artistic family hosting a holiday soiree each in turn.
Small presses in the Midwest may also want to get in touch with them to find out how to help this festival grow as it moves forward. Check it out.

Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The language of poetry and wine

"Wine is bottled poetry" R.L. Stevenson

    The myriad categories of both wine and poetry too often confuse the neophyte. Poetry and wine appeal to and affect the head and may go straight to the heart. Both can transport you anywhere. Both have a huge capacity to surprise. The best wine and poetry offer a mind bending combination of intensity, finesse and grace. Both may have balance and harmony, give pleasure and provoke thought. Poor quality in wine or poetry may provoke gastric acidity, confusion, ill temper, boredom and headache.
  Beginning poets and wine-tasters should start simply. They should slowly work up to nuances and sincerity in the depths of each. Gradually their senses, perhaps over years and after slow, careful study and tastings should recognize the complexity and density beneath each poem or wine.
    Not all wines are drinkable nor are all poems enjoyable. But, whether complex, simple, earthy, animal-like, delicate or subtle, flowery or fruity, sec or sweet, enjoyment, refreshment and increasing interest are the result of imbibing both good wine and poetry.

Cheers, prosit, skol, good reading!
Elliot O. Lipchik

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sunday Morning Press: Portals and Piers

With or Without Music

When you have a poem to write, that is, a daydream to transcribe or edit, do you play music in the background? Or does the lightest distraction, the most microscopic noise, mute the muse?

Poets who believe daydreaming invites epiphany or at least reveals a psychological truism, require a silence generated by their own special quietude to be productive. Branching from a pre-time pedigree of aesthetes, they operate under a canopy of fragile magic, guided by interior chanting. Break the spell with someone else’s song and a good poem will never be.

Other poets require the mediating affects of music to daydream their way into a poem. They believe we may never realize we are all in a state of shock and that history, more often than not, is haunted by human silence. These poets rely on the benign intrusion of music to alleviate the chill of wordlessness. Like most of us, they are moving toward something unsayable that cannot go unsaid. They conjoin the emotions and memories triggered by their favorite playlist to a personal iconography that becomes a poem we could all use.

Where do you fall? Do you work alone or with music?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Portals and Piers

Sorry it took so long, but here is the book cover. Thank you for the photo, Dmitry.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


A while ago I borrowed a book from a friend:
How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry, (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1999)
by Edward Hirsch

In this book he gave a description of the many forms of poetry as well as examples by poets past and present who are or were considered the masters or in some cases the progenitors of each discipline. While I enjoyed reading and learning about the various forms of poetry from around the world, the most intriguing to me was the tanka. Tanka is an ancient Japanese form, let's say a cousin to the haiku. The both evolved from the waka family; waka simply means Japanese Poem, the term was coined to differentiate Japanese language poems from the more traditional kanshi, Chinese language poems written by Japanese poets. The tanka is made of units or phrases which when translated to western languages follows a 5-7-5-7-7 syllabic line form. After reading the examples presented by Mr. Hirsch, I was compelled to try my hand at this beautifully short form. Tradionally, the tanka are not titled, they are simply numbered. My offerings which follow below have both the number indicating the order in which they were written as well as a title.


awakened by name
angels calling at dawns light
you were right to come
set free your dreams and sleep now
you have passed the suffering

orange peel and lemon
spiced with coriander seed,
purple verbena-
decaf mandarin orchard
celestial seasonings

the dragonfly swoops
a blur of sivery-green
aerial assaults
mosquito clouds are dispersed
fireworks play second fiddle

birdsong and green tea
blades of grass collecting dew
tepid mug in hand
I drink deeply the morning
tasting its spice on my tongue

this body will melt
into the earth like all things
great and small must do
no matter, it is only
a vessel to hold my pain

the demons are there
swimming in a sanguine sea
signalling evil
messages to nerve endings-
pain anchors itself in me

when the waves hit shore
do they disappear or slip
quietly, unseen
beneath the surface to some
mysterious beginning

Hopefully you enjoyed reading these tanka as much as I enjoyed writing them and sharing them with you. Please share any comments and feel free to send in your own tanka. I look forward to reading them.
Chris Austin

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Woodland Pattern's Annual Poetry Marathon

The authors of Portals and Piers reading at Woodland Pattern's annual poetry marathon.
Sat. January 28th, 2012

Steve Pump

Elliot O. Lipchik

Chris Austin

Stephen Anderson

Paul Joseph Enea

Paul Enea, Chris Austin, Steve Pump, Stephen Anderson, Elliot Lipchik

With fellow 6pm readers:
Paul, Sally Kuzma, Elliot, Chris, Joan Miller, Stephen, Susan Firer, Jim Hazard

Thank you Woodland Pattern
and don't forget...

Photos by Jordan Austin

Friday, January 27, 2012

Press Release for Portal and Piers

Five Authors Collaborate on “Portals and Piers”
a Collection of Original Poetry

Milwaukee, WI January 25, 2012 –
    For close to 15 years, the five writers whose poems appear in “Portals and Piers” have spent Sunday mornings reading and discussing each other’s work. 
The result of these regular gatherings brings readers everywhere this collection of more than thirty of the strongest poems produced by the core members of this unusual and diverse group.   

The portal might be the door to a palace. Or the entrance to a mine shaft. It might invite you in. Or warn you away from danger – or diamonds.  The pier is where journeys by water begin and end. It offers posts to which you can tie your boat. Suspended over the surface of the lake… A portal may open.”

Published by Sunday Morning Press, the book features original poetry by Milwaukee based group members Stephen Anderson, Chris Austin, Paul Enea, Elliot O. Lipchik and Steve Pump.  All previously published, and many award-winning, this particular assemblage of men remained dedicated and constant in their desire to improve their skills and take on the task of self-publishing a book.

Many of the poems included in this collected works first appeared in publications including Southwest Review, Free Verse, Verse Wisconsin, Tipton Poetry Review, Harvests of Millenium, Porcupine, Phoenix, The Salmon, and Express Milwaukee.

Meet the authors at the official book release on March 9, 2012 at Woodland Pattern Book Center, 720 E. Locust Avenue in Milwaukee. The entire group will also be appearing at Woodland Pattern's poetry marathon on January 28, 2012 at 6pm. 

For more information on “Portals and Piers,” and a closer look at the authors, please visit  For more information on the book release and authors’ readings, please visit

Thank you
A Mc K
P R and Consulting

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Authors

The poets of Sunday Morning Press are:  Elliot O. Lipchik, Steve Pump, Chris Austin, Stephen Anderson and Paul Joseph Enea (photo by Jordan Austin).

Monday, January 16, 2012

Portals and Piers, Blurbs and Biographs.

The portal might be the door to a palace. Or the entrance to a mine shaft. It might invite you in. Or warn you away from danger - or diamonds.  One door might open to another. Or it might open to the familiar blue gray of a great lake.

The pier is where journeys by water begin and end. It offers posts to which you can tie your boat. Suspended over the surface of the lake, you might decide to sit at the pier’s edge, skimming your feet along the surface. Or you might dive in and swim. A portal may open.

For several years, the five writers whose poems appear in Portals and Piers have spent a series of Sunday mornings reading and discussing each other’s work. This book is a product of those meetings.

The poets are:

Stephen Anderson was the First Place winner of the Kay Saunders Memorial New Poet Award in the 2005 Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Triad Contest. His work has appeared in Southwest Review, Verse Wisconsin, Tipton Poetry Journal, Harvests of New Millennium, Free Verse, Foundling Review, Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar (2002 & 2008), Fox Cry Review, and in other print and online publications. His chapbook, The Silent Tango of Dreams, was published by Pudding House Publications in June, 2006. He lives with his wife inMilwaukee, Wisconsin.

Chris Austin is first and foremost a family man. Married, with two college-age children, most of his work comes from the experiences, good and bad, which that life has wrought. He considers himself lucky to have fallen in with such an accommodating and nurturing group of poets who have helped him develop his own voice. He has been published in the online journal Burning Word and Verse Wisconsin magazine.

Paul Joseph Enea was born and raised on Milwaukee’s east side, where he continues to reside in spite of the increased traffic and exponential proliferation of mean-spirited or irresponsible drivers. His poetry has appeared in Blue Canary Press, Verse Wisconsin, and Porcupine. He has recently returned, after an extended hiatus, to taking long walks in which he contemplates how lucky he’s been at discovering new friends while keeping old ones close.

Elliot O. Lipchik was born, raised and educated in New York. He moved to Milwaukee as Professor of Radiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. After early retirement, he studied "poetry" at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He hasnumerous publications in magazines such as Porcupine, Chiron Review (3rd place contest winner), Borderlands Texas Poetry Review and in the Mizmor L’David Anthology. Tethered To These Stones is his chapbook about family and the years in New York City.

Steve Pump was born and raised in Milwaukee and learned most of what he knows about poetry from the great poets of that city. His poems have appeared in The Salmon, Bratting (Blue Canary Press), Soup, Crux (Dead Art Limited), The Shepherd-Express and He lives in Chicago.

Portals And Piers

Our shipment of books has just arrived from the printer, and they look great!  I'll post some pictures in the near future, but for now wanted to make the books available to anyone who might want to order them.    There were only 100 copies printed, with a number of copies going to contributors and collaborators.  So get them while supplies last!

If you are interested in ordering, please contact us at  Books are $10.00 each + $4.00 shipping anywhere in the U.S.