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Matthew Lippman

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I swear, this is the largest picture of him available on the internet.

Matthew Lippman

The other day I pulled Matthew Lippman’s The New Year of Yellow off my shelf, a thin book with one of those dull gloss covers that look and feel like a paint sample that are all the rage these days, and had the kind of experience you get when you’re listening to an album that used to get heavy rotation in your car.  With each poem, I found myself thinking, “oh man, this one!” and, “oh shit, this is my jam!” & etc.  It was like 3 a.m. riding in the back seat on rt. 128 and somebody just put in The Blue Album.

But I was actually on the subway and actually sober and it actually hadn’t really been that long since I last flipped through the aforementioned collection.  I bought The New Year of Yellow earlier this year, when I was still in school.  Matthew Lippman is a fellow Hobart alum, and he visited in old alma mater in the spring to read poetry and speak to my Advanced Poetry Workshop class.  He’s a nice guy.  His poetry is nicer.

See, basically Lippman’s poems consistently do the things I always want poems to do, namely: 1) Have a sense of humor, 2) Put imagination and its unexpected products before all else, 3) Speak with passion.  He checks those first two boxes handily enough, but its the particular gusto with which he throws a big red x on criterion three that makes Lippman a keeper.  Lippman writes about words and sex and disappointment and socialists and bratty kids and just sittin and thinkin and he just gushes sincerity.  Whatever that means.

Like,

What I did, I lied.
I lied about the Cremora Food Truck hijacked,
brought to Boston, blown up,
just to get all that white powder up in the air,
just to get all the kids to listen;
I lied about the money and the hungry zookeeper
who killed two giraffes with a bullhorn then wheeled out the Hibachi.

That’s from, “And Everywhere It’s Florida.”

On a personal note, one time I awkwardly approached Matthew Lippman and asked him in this weird voice and posture of fake confidence (fake cockiness?) if he would read one of my poems, which he did, and he said it was good, “showed promise,” and even wrote extensive notes.  Maybe it was annoying to him to do that, since I wasn’t really his student, but I appreciated it.  So everyone should appreciate him back and buy ten thousand copies of his book.

Here’s the poem from above.

A poem, “The Joy is Everywhere.”

Two Poems, Droopy Canopy of Autumn and At the Wedding and Wondering.

P.S.- Add Lippman to our growing list of people without wikipedia pages.  Do these guys just not realize they can make one for themselves?

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Written by Peter Kelly

November 13, 2008 at 4:03 am

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