June 1999 Café Society's Poetry News Update
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AN INTERVIEW WITH RICK LUPERT

Rick Lupert
Rick Lupert has been involved in the Los Angeles poetry community since 1990. He was recently made a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets, a 19 year old non-profit organization which produces regular reading series and publications out of the San Fernando Valley. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous magazines and literary journals, including The Los Angeles Times, Chiron Review, Zuzu's Petals, Caffeine Magazine, Blue Satellite and others. He is the author of five books. Paris: It's The Cheese, I Am My Own Orange County (Ain't Got No Press), Lizard King of the Laundromat (Inevitable Press), I'm a Jew, Are You? (Ain't Got No Press) and most recently Mowing Fargo (Sacred Beverage Press). He has hosted the long running Cobalt Cafe reading series for five years now and is regularly featured at venues throughout Southern California. Rick created and maintains the Poetry Super Highway, a major internet resource for online poets.

Currently Rick works as a music teacher at several Los Angeles area synagogues.

Poetry L & T:When and why did you first start writing poetry, Rick?
Rick Lupert: In 1990. Though I did have an acrostic poem published in an anthology when I was in elementary school by a group of visiting poets who did workshops with the English Classes:
Pig

Pigs are very piggish
Irregularly attached to mud
Gosh darn it, pigs are messy

Poetry L & T:On your website, you say that Hot Water Press were the first publishers to use your work. Did you find that the first publisher made it easier to approach other publishers, later?
Rick Lupert:It wasn't really easier to approach different publishers as if they're not familiar with your work, it becomes very much like your first time approaching anyone. I suppose there is a little bit more confidence one has when one is able to list previous publication credits in a letter to a publisher, but ultimately it comes down to whether or not the new publisher likes your work or not. I think a good publisher / editor doesn't really concern herself with a poets previous publication credits.
Poetry L & T:I enjoyed your poems on the Lupert website. You use an entertaining, sharp wit, often with a serious underlying message. How did you arrive at this style?
Rick Lupert:It's the style I most enjoy reading so it was natural to fall into it when developing my own style. More specifically, my exposure to very silly and entertaining books by Douglas Adams (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy etc...) Monty Python and the humorous, absurd and surreal writings of Richard Brautigan greatly influenced my writing. I'm not sure how the serious underlying messages got in there. I suppose they are just reflections of my own opinions and ideas and as my writing style has progressed I've been able to stray away from exclusively silly and humorous material with a confidence that has allowed me to incorporate these opinions and ideas into the work.

I think we are all products of the things we encounter. After I've been reading work by a particular author, tend to incorporate aspects of their style into my own work which leads for me, to a constantly evolving style.

Poetry L & T:I found your RealAudio reading "Pork Pizza" amusing. Did you use a particular sound studio program to layer the three sounds (your voice, the guitar and the sound effects)?
Rick Lupert:I recorded this using the Plain Talk microphone that comes standard with the Macintosh. (Hardly studio quality) I used a shareware program (possibly Sound Studio) which I downloaded from the InfoMac software archive...not sure which one because I had several sound programs at the time and since then lost them all to a hard drive crash. Anyway, it was one which allowed the mixing and editing of different tracks all onscreen.
Poetry L & T:In what ways do you feel that being Jewish influences your work?
Rick Lupert:I think that all ones experiences and identity influences everything we do. I write about my experiences. I spend a lot of time having Jewish experiences and so naturally much of this shows in poems. (I work as a music teacher at a synagogue in Northridge, CA)
Poetry L & T:In the religious references in your poems, you are sometimes anarchic and controversial. Does this ever get you into trouble in more orthodox circles, or with your family?
Rick Lupert:Yes. I have been accused of being sophomoric, and inaccurately representing the Jewish people. It is not my goal to be an emissary of Jews in my work, I write from my own experiences and observations. I guess some of my work isn't for everyone. The very same pieces which have been negatively critiqued by some have been positively praised by others. Sometimes I feel like a misunderstood artist, or dare I say...Job.
Poetry L & T:How did you first get the idea for The Poetry Super Highway?
Rick Lupert:It seemed to me, when I was creating my website, that the key way to get people to visit my site was to create a reason for people to come back to it...changing content. So I figured the best way to do this was to feature the work of other people...it started as a small section of links to other poetry sites...and featuring one poet a week. Soon this section of the site grew and began to take on it's own identity...It went from just a reason to create traffic to my personal pages to a publication and resource of it's own. Since then I've sincerely tried to make it one of the most comprehensive resources for poets on the web as well as featuring the most diverse selections of the best poetry I receive from all over the world.
Poetry L & T:Is it sometimes difficult to organize your time, while you are compiling your weekly PSH newsletters (it seems a lot of work to bring it out weekly)?
Rick Lupert: I have it down to a science...well, ok, not a science...I have it down to a system. I do most of the work on Sunday afternoons. The templates are already created so it's just a matter of plugging in the new information. I also spend time on Fridays reviewing the poetry submitted during the week and responding to it. If I spent time every day working on it, I think it would be difficult, but I hold off on everything to these two time periods...it goes quicker that way.
Poetry L & T:Have you ever had to refuse a poetry link because of offensive or poorly-written material?
Rick Lupert:No. The only qualification to receive a link on the PSH is that the site is in some way related to poetry / writing. Sites with offensive or poorly written material will thrive or perish on their own merits.
Poetry L & T:Who are your favourite well-known poets, and why?
Rick Lupert:Richard Brautigan: His absurd, funny, and surreal writings have always been my favorite. He language is accessible. It's entertaining. It goes in directions one doesn't expect. I wish he didn't off himself 15 years ago because I would love to have read all the things he never got to write.

My favorite line of poetry comes from Whitman's Leaves of Grass.

"Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origins of all poems."

I say this to every woman I meet. The one who understands, I'll marry.

I also very much enjoy the works of many modern lesser known, though still accomplished writers, such as Jeffrey McDaniel, Ellyn Maybe, Matthew Niblock, Gerald Locklin, Ron Koertge, Brendan Constantine and lots more.

Poetry L & T:Do you have an ideal setting in which to write poetry (mine is in cafes)?
Rick Lupert:There's a cafe on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, CA (just another neighborhood in Los Angeles) called Lulu's Beehive. I like to write there. There's always free entertainment. Good food. Friendly people. They knew my name after I hadn't been in the place after a year...and there's bumble bees painted on the floor.
Poetry L & T:Finally, Rick, what advice would you give to anyone reading this, who would like to have their work published one day?
Rick Lupert:For quality of writing: Constantly write. Always immerse yourself in the work of other poets.

For getting published: Go to poetry readings. Read your poetry at them. Send work out on a regular basis. Send to magazines (online/print) which publish poetry that you like to read. Send back to the same publications even if you've been rejected. Read submission guidelines carefully and follow them exactly. Understand that every publisher receives much more work than they could possibly publish in their lifetime. Go to workshops. Meet people.

Publish it yourself. Three of my books are self published and they've made more money than I would have made with a 'deal' from a publisher.

Poetry L & T:Thanks for the interview, Rick.

POEMS BY RICK LUPERT

Ants

Today at lunch I was God.
The hungry masses gathered around me.
I rained bread from their sky.
It was French bread
No Manna from this deity
I am a gourmet God
The crumbs of my lunch fed thousands
They were brought as offerings to their queen
They sculpted busts of me out of the larger pieces
They constructed temples in my honor out of hollowed out crusts
I was only there for a half hour
I won't return tomorrow
I may never
I will become part of their mythology
Holy wars will be fought in my name
Not that they know my name
They will call me food
And someday, they will eat me.


No Fish Blues

I won a green rubber snake at a carnival
But it was an empty victory
As the snake was just a consolation prize
And thus a symbol
of my inability to win a goldfish


You

You are art incarnate
A living canvas with lungs and legs
Primary colors
mixed with natural tones
A landscape to behold
Three dimensional
Excellent use of perspective
I want to see you again
Make you part of my permanent collection
Allow occasional private showings
Maybe make a coffee table book
You are art incarnate
It's almost as if Monet brought you here
and left you on my couch


The Lone Mosher
(also appeared in the Los Angeles Times)

The Lone Mosher
No-one to bump into
Moves around
alone

The Lone Mosher
venting his frustrations
beats himself up

The Lone mosher
is bleeding
self inflicted mosh wounds
Someone should get him some blow up mosher dolls to mosh with

The Lone Mosher
Proves his manliness
to himself


T-Hair

I want there to be a hair shop
where you could get a mohawk
because all they do is mohawks
even if you say "Just a little off the top and clean up the ends"
They wouldn't listen to you
and you'd walk out of there with a mohawk
and you couldn't do a thing about it
because the shop is called "Mohawk Hair Shop"
and you've signed a disclaimer
that gives them the legal right to make a mohawk out of your hair
And there's a sign on the wall that clearly states "ALL WE DO IS MOHAWKS"
and there's really fine print that says
"except on Thursdays when we do reverse mohawks and charge double."


Five Dollar Sunglasses and Venice Pizza

Venice Beach
Walking along the boardwalk
Roller Skating Guitar Man sings for me.
I say "Didn't you open for Jane's Addiction once?"
He doesn't answer
Sings on.
When finished he says "You gotta buy one of my CD's man."
I tell him I only have enough for five dollar sunglasses
and a slice of Venice Pizza
He tells me I will amass wealth.
I tell him I will come back when I do.

I find the sunglasses booth
The one I always go to.
They have the sunglasses I want.
I pick them up and hand the man five dollars.
No words are exchanged
Just money and sunglasses
I knew they would be five dollars.
He knew enough not to ask for more.
I was obviously an experienced Venice Beach Sunglasses buyer.

A trip to Venice is not complete without a slice of Venice Pizza.
It's not good pizza.
It's not cheap pizza.
It's Venice Pizza, and it must be eaten
Or your trip to Venice is invalidated
As if it never happened.

I continue walking
New five dollar glasses on face
Slice of Venice Pizza in hand.
Man shouts at me
"Hey Pizza Boy! My Dick is harder than Superman's Elbow!"
I tell him that my butt cheeks are like Kryptonite.
He backs off
I have earned his respect.

I finish the Pizza
Drive home
It is chilly on the boardwalk today.


53 Guts

Realizing I had no guts I went down to the guts store to buy me some.
I figured I better get me some guts lickety split.
So I spoke with the sales associate at the guts store
And she asked me what kind of guts I wanted
And I asked her what kind of guts did they have
And she said they had all kinds of guts
but they specialized in gizzards.
I told her that I would take 53 gizzards,
And she wrapped 'em up
And I used my Visa
And now I've got guts.
53 Guts.


Self Polarization

Breasts attract me
like round magnets to my steel head
They polarize me
Make me want to stick
I am like Woolly Willy, Magnetic Dust Face Man
My Beard rearranges in their presence


Unexpected Lips

Your unexpected lips
that night in the rain
felt good against mine.
If I'd known they were coming
I'd have baked a cake


EDITOR'S LETTER, JUNE 1999

Dear Poets,

This issue features an interview with poet Rick Lupert, who runs the Poetry Super Highway website and newsletter. Poets with new websites or new features on their sites can email him with brief details and the URL, and he will put the links in his next newsletter. See the interview for his email address.

The details of the latest Capricorn International Poetry and Short Story Competition 1999 are also featured. Poets outside of the UK who are interested - email me within the first week of June and I will write to Deborah Tutton for details of how to enter the competition from outside the UK.

The theme for this month's poetry section is "Mystery". Many thanks to all who sent in their work. I have enjoyed reading all the submissions.

Any comments on this issue or back issues can be emailed to me on the link at the bottom of the page.

Best Regards,

                  


THE CAPRICORN INTERNATIONAL POETRY AND SHORT STORY COMPETITION 1999

CLOSING DATE: 1 July 1999

THEME: An original Poem/Short Story. No restriction to style or length.

ENTRY FEE: £3.00 per poem/story, £1.00 for 4th poem/story and beyond

Ist PRIZE: (each category) £100 and publication in an Anthology.

2nd & 3rd PRIZES (each category): publication in an anthology

PLUS: Three additional runners-up prizes of publication in an anthology in the Poetry category.

No entry form required. All entries should be titled, but not bear the author's name. They may be typed or hand-written provided they are legible. Please keep copies and send your entries with a separate list of titles and the author's name and address to:

The Capricorn International Poetry/Short Story Competition,
17 West Lea Road,
Weston,
Bath BA1 3RL,
United Kingdom

Entries can only be returned when reply postage and an envelope are provided. Entries from outside UK: see also Editor's letter for more details.


I asked some poets to come up with poems on this theme and the results brought some very diverse interpretations...


Robert Dean Ludden

ROBERT DEAN LUDDENhas worked as a teacher, a radio and television announcer, and a pipe organ technician. He is a graduate of Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota, and lives presently semi-retired, in Northern Illinois. He is also a regular contributor on the email-based newsgroup AYLAD, and has been feaured on various websies including my Café Society's Guest Poets page. Visit his website on: http://www.essex1.com/people/ludden/Rindex1.html

THE MYSTIQUE OF MYSTERY
© Robert Dean Ludden

Non-expendable
for if the search be at an end
reduced to mud and ashes,
so passes any matrix of delight
so made of all beginning
and so much the child
of all finality

were man to feed on fruit
impervious to seed and sun
or cavalier with first and final causes
any deity would do
and could there be a call?
a spectrum in a speculum?
a tiny grain of reason
striving for the light?

a spectre in the spectacle!
well prepared to serve as death,
an apparition so contrived
would greet the dawn of revelation
as a friend
before it shrivels
as the drying dew
beneath a tired sun
and knowing rises
evanescent as it must
or all is lost

TRANSCIENCE
© Robert Dean Ludden

We travel in a cube with invisible walls
On a journey without end or beginning...
Our six-sided perception of reality importunate,
Yet, tempered in mystery before the reach within
...and that a temperament unlimited.

At what price the expansion of consciousness,
And by what instigation?
Forced to slip upon our own matrix of desire,
As fools with fists of open air,
And mouths to beg an enemy to fight.
How then to seek, or gain, or rest?
...or even to create!
What folly our scheme of time.
Ours indeed, and we its prisoner.
So join with me
in cosmic intercourse.
The way is as clear as the will.
The climax...eternal.

THE HIGHER SELF
© Robert Dean Ludden

We live beneath a blowing stream
To which our consciousness pays tribute
Now and then, and sings a rhapsody
Which always trails off
To some oblivion, self-made perhaps,
Recovered in a dream, or
Scrawled on tissue, and
Performed again
by weak-eyed songsters,
apathetic to the vision
mothering its birth.

Yet, there are times that melody
Will sing itself, and bound around
This drama of our sojourn here,
To fit the niche carved out by forces scarce defined
By you or me, or God, for all we know.
The song is truly ours,
A cosmic bank account,
Backed by credits we could never store.
Ours alone to use,
(Not always when we will).
But we can cock our heads and listen more.
To sense the riches there!!

An endless rush it is, without incipience
- Aligned toward some unknown cynosure.
And I would breathe a prayer of thanks
For high adventure, nothing less,
And celebrate this spirit hurricane
With shouts of jubilance.... and awe.

Just so, another mystery is ours,
And mystics we become as by default.
Would we be gods?
No better course there is for any man
than standing by in conscious readiness
to feel upon his face this wind...
This personal resource no other man can sense
Or ever understand...
This mighty Breath of God.

ludden@essex1.com


catfish (Steve Rouse)

CATFISH (STEVE ROUSE) is a member of the Manchester (England) - based poetry group called The Monday Night Group in Manchester, England. He's quite active on the local poetry scene and has been published by Crocus and the AK Press, amongst others. He writes about anything which comes to mind and has been accused of being experimental, which he confirms or denies as the occasion demands. A regular on alt.arts.poetry.comments, he has been busy lately, away from the newsgroup. So I wrote to him asking if he would like to contribute to this mont's poetry section, and he kindly agreed. Of the first poem, "bela's hand", he says: "This poem refers to the classic photograph of Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, descending the stairs of his castle."

bela’s hand
© catfish (steve rouse)

Bela looks unsure, tentative.
Though he holds the candle
confidently, his left hand dances
to the left and he’s on the back foot.

Perhaps he’s afraid, he looks at me
as if I might be one of him, not only
hunger in his eyes but a sense
that he dares not hope too soon.

Maybe he detects my handedness,
pre-empts a run to the right. There’s
camp in his hand, but a pointedness
that talks of needles and claws.

Or it might be a gesture, a sign,
he might be about to hug me,
throw down the candle, apologise
for the cobwebs, welcome me home.

a more precise death
© catfish (steve rouse)

Someone’s done a “join the dots” on JFK,
removed the grain from history,
made our memories less clear,
turned our legends into “facts”.

People thought they knew where they were,
only now they’re not so sure.
For under twenty dollars, they can buy
a death, more accurate than before.

At seventy-seven cents a second,
the head explodes again and slumps,
and you can see his brains more clearly
in the heat of the dumb Dallas sun.

But History calls me on the telephone,
tells me Zapruder had his back to the knoll,
that bullets’ trajectories are smears
in the memories of their careful owners.

History asks if a computer is more objective
or informed than the Warren Commission.
Perhaps it has fewer axes to sharpen, wield, wipe,
and lock away in velvet cases, I reply.

catfish@cwcom.net


Jerry Jenkins

JERRY JENKINS
has been writing poetry since 1993. He is a member of the Academy of American Poets and the Science Fiction Poetry Association, where his poetry has been nominated for the Association's Rhysling Award. His poetry has won numerous awards in individual and chapbook competitions, and has appeared in printed publications and anthologies such as The Formalist, The Lyric, Mobius, Echoes, Harp-Strings, Amelia, Cicada, The Piedmont Literary Review, Mail Call Journal, Poetry Monthly (U.K.), The Devil's Millhopper, The Fractal, Dark Planet, Pirate Writings, and Star*Line. His online publication credits include work in Octavo, Eclectica, Pyrowords, Avalon, Poetic Express, and Deep South.

His chapbooks include AVIAN, Helionaut, Hamadryad's Passage, Candle, Monks' Wine, Our Own Loving Kind, and Confluence (in collaboration with Rosa Clement).

He is a former Marine Corps officer with 26 years of service, including service in Vietnam. He recently retired from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where he was Assistant Vice-President for Information Technology. He is a Sysop of the Poetry Forum on CompuServe, where he is the editor of the Compuserve Poetry Anthology.

WOLF CIRCLE
© Jerry Jenkins

I saw my father as the winter faded.
We knew this visit was to be our last.
Our talk was calm. With every glance we traded,
we sought what we'd neglected as years passed.

Each waited for the other one to waver
and put aside the mask for just a while,
eye to eye to prove who could be braver,
covering our longing with our guile.

We circled as two wolves about to duel,
stiff and watchful, close, but out of reach,
proud, respectful, patient, loving, cruel:
traits that sons must learn and fathers teach.

Well he taught, and well I learned them from him.
They served us both until that final day,
when wolf and gray wolf tried to close the circle.
Helpless, we couldn't find the way.

SPRITES
© Jerry Jenkins

I saw them for the first time as a child.
On humid evenings they would come to dance
out in the meadows as the sun went down,
flitting among the dark damp weeds. I watched,
believing they were fairies, maybe fireflies.
Later someone told me they were swamp gas.

Flyers claim they see them near the wingtips,
swarming and aglow where air meets space.
Telescopes have seen them in the reaches
of emptiness where frozen comets wander,
the dark side of the moon, the stones of Mars.

One blistering sultry summer in the bedroom,
my brother napped until a thunderstorm,
black as soot and hungry as a vampire,
covered up the sun. The only light
a ball of lightning perfect as the sun,
glowing blue-green on the bed, and dancing,
tantalizing, frightening, near his head.

I saw them in the phosphorescent glow
of summer midnights in Manila Bay,
tracing a glimmering curl along the waves
and coconuts that washed in on the tide,
monkey-faced and glowing like Halloween.

They lit the jungled nights of Vietnam.
Some people told me they were warning flares,
others said that they were something else.
I think as I look back that both were right.

jerry_h_jenkins@csi.com


part of Jan Sand's illustration for his childrens' poem "DISGUSTIBUS"

JAN SAND, poet and illustrator from New York, is a regular contributor to Poetry Life & Times. and the newsgroup alt.arts.poetry.comments. A great deal of his work is about animals, or science fiction.

To see more of Jan's poem and illustrations, visit the November '98 issue of Poetry Life & Times, and scroll down past the Editor's Letter.

IMAGE
© Jan Sand

To look back
Across one's life
Is to view a landscape
To know, if nothing else,
Where one has been.
It is like a drawing
Made by connecting dots,
But the final picture
Remains a mystery,
Even at the end.

STARSTUCK
© Jan Sand

The robots we send out these days
To waltz among the stars
Hum to themselves and to us
Strange melodies whose bars
Beat rhythms both electrical
And, partaking of magnetic,
Meld wild effects eclectical
To get results aesthetic.

The glories of the galaxies,
The secrets of the moons
Expectorate back to Earth's
Parabolic spittoons.

The zips and units come in trains
With enigmas all enwrapped.
Digestible, suggestible
To bright receptive brains

Down the data rains, like dust,
To link up here just so
Spelling out the message that
We don't know what we know.

We don't know what we know because
There's so much more to see,
And all that we assemble is
A total mystery.

jan_sand@hotmail.com



Pinky

Thank you so much for including me in your fine May issue! The link works wonderfully and I look forward to contest entries from your readers.

Best,

Katja

http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Gallery/7432/


Back Issues of POETRY LIFE & TIMES:

September 1998

October 1998

November 1998

December 1998

January 1999

February 1999

March 1999

April 1999

May 1999

Mail me on: pinky@redcity.demon.co.uk with any poems, comments for the letters page, news about your poetry site, or forthcoming poetry events.

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