Thursday, November 23, 2017     Volume: 18, Issue: 38
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Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on November 9th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 36 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 36

Los Angeles area poets grace Orcutt stage for Poetry at Core

By REBECCA ROSE

Poet Rick Lupert can almost recall the very first time he was called on to create a poem.

“I have a vague memory of third grade,” he said. “We had some poets come to our school and teach poetry. I don’t recall a lot about it, but they took everything we wrote and bound it.”

Reading their verse
Rick Lupert and Nels Christianson will read from their respective works on Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Core Winery’s Poetry Night. Poetry Night is the second saturday of every month. The venue is located at 105 W Clark Ave, Orcutt. More info: 937-1600.

Lupert, who lives in Van Nuys, and Santa Monica poet Nels Christianson will perform a reading of their poems on Nov. 11 at CORE Wine Company in Orcutt. The reading is part of a series of monthly poetry readings hosted by local author Michael McLaughlin.

Lupert is the creator of the website Poetry Super Highway, and host of the weekly Cobalt Cafe reading series. He has created 21 collections of poetry, including God Wrestler, Donut Famine, Professor Clown on Parade, Romancing the Blarney Stone, and has edited anthologies including Ekphrastia Gone Wild, and A Poet’s Haggadah. He also writes the Jewish Poetry column “From the Lupertverse” for Jewish Journal.

He said he can remember the poem he wrote for that first bound work of young students’ work. “Pigs are very piggish irregularly attached to mud goshdarnit,” were his first published poetry words. But it wouldn’t be until many years later that he returned to the medium.

“I used to carry around a journal,” he said. “If I found something funny or interesting, I would write it down.”

Then one day he made a fateful stop at the Iguana Cafe in North Hollywood. Lupert said that in the early 1990s he saw an ad for a poetry circle in LA Weekly. But there was something different about this meetup.

“It wasn’t an open mic,” he explained. “It was sort of a workshop … with a facilitator. You would read and people would offer a critique. I thought, ‘I will read and people will say this is not poetry and I will move on.’”

But that’s not what happened. Lupert quickly became drawn to the practice of writing and reading, and over the past several decades has made a strong name for himself and his particular style in LA poetry circles.

“In Southern California and in particular in the greater LA area, you can on any day of the week find a poetry reading to go to,” Lupert said. “If you chose to be in the company of other poets, you would not have a problem doing that.”

One of the ways Lupert stays active in the poetry community is through online spaces, where he publishes work and helps promotes readings and other poets at Poetry Super Highway. He said while poetry isn’t a genre that is guaranteed to make anyone rich, the vitality of the medium as an art form is invaluable.


POET AND SHOW IT
Poet Rick Lupert, author of The God Wrestler, will recite poems from his body of work on Nov. 11 at Core Winery in Orcutt.
PHOTO COURTESY OF RICK LUPERT

Art helps challenge one’s sensibilities, he explained. Art forces individuals to take a step back from moving forward and truly understand and dissect the moment they live in.

“In poetry, that’s what I’m trying to do,” he said. “My poetry is narrative and humourous. I try to figure out what I’m looking at and what’s interesting. I try to go beyond the casual glance, the mundane, and see what can I pull out that’s more interesting.”

Lupert is the kind of earnest intellectual who never comes off as smug or abrasive, but rather fits his meaty weight of knowledge into comedic bites and bursts of inspiration. His poems are inviting and comfortably accessible, the kind that leave you feeling gifted with unique insight. In short, his work is the kind of poetry we need: fun and cognitive without feeling stodgy.

Lupert’s newest book, God Wrestler, is an unusually challenging idea experiment that melds religious doctrine with poetry and a flair for humor. For the collection, Lupert turned to the Torah, the first five books of Moses in the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) in the Jewish religion. Lupert uses the weekly Torah portion, known as parashah, to find connections in everyday life. He said he was inspired to find a deeper humanity and embrace a comedic perspective.

“I grew up Jewish,” Lupert said. “The challenge of reading these ancient texts is trying to figure out what it has to do with anything in your life. These are the same stories every year. It’s the same text. Should I in 2017 be concerned the Earth could be flooded again? I wrote these poems to connect myself to these portions we read every year.”

He said the challenge was to figure out what the portions have to do with what’s going on now, in today’s world and in the neutral details of normal everyday life. Ultimately, Lupert’s goal is promote the value of art, in any form, as it connects to one’s daily life.

“I think that art is important,” Lupert said. “Whether it’s poetry or a different form of writing or visual or performance based. It’s important that individuals immerse themselves in art as participators or consumers of art. I think as people we grow up and gain responsibility, and we tend to leave art behind.”

B'reishit

In the beginning God made everything.
According to scientists, the beginning
took billions of years.

I've taken to counting my ribs.
I want there to be one less so
I have something to believe in.

At the very least
I'm responsible for naming the animals
who live in my house.

I've built a garden in the front
and in the back. I can't eat the fruit
because the possum gets there first.

I call a man in periodically
to keep it looking like paradise.
He brings others to help him.

There are so many more people
eating forbidden fruits
than when all this started.

—Rick Lupert

Arts and Lifestyle Writer Rebecca Rose rhymes with Shelecca Brose. Contact her at rrose@santamariasun.com.




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