Los Angeles Poet Rick Lupert has been involved with poetry since 1990. He created and maintained the Poetry Super Highway ( http://www.poetrysuperhighway.com ) a major resource and online publication for poets and writers. He has hosted the long running Cobalt Cafe Poetry reading in Southern California since 1994. He is the author of 11 collections of poetry, most recently "A Man With No teeth Serves Us Breakfast" and edited "A Poet's Haggadah." Rick works as a free-lance graphic designer and music teacher in Jewish settings.
Rick Lupert has been involved in the Los Angeles poetry community since 1990. He served for two years as a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets, a non-profit organization which produces readings and publications out of the San Fernando Valley. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, including The Los Angeles Times, Rattle, Chiron Review, Zuzu's Petals, Caffeine Magazine, Blue Satellite and others. He edited the anthologies Ekphrastia Gone Wild: Poems Inspired by Art, A Poet's Haggadah: Passover through the Eyes of Poets and The Night Goes on All Night - Noir Inspired Poetry, and is the author of fifteen books: Nothing in New England is New, Death of a Mauve Bat, Sinzibuckwud!, We Put Things In Our Mouths, Paris: It's The Cheese, I Am My Own Orange County, Mowing Fargo, I'm a Jew. Are You?, Feeding Holy Cats, Stolen Mummies, I'd Like to Bake Your Goods, A Man With No Teeth Serves Us Breakfast (Ain't Got No Press), Lizard King of the Laundromat, Brendan Constantine is My Kind of Town (Inevitable Press) and Up Liberty's Skirt (Cassowary Press). He has hosted the long running Cobalt Café reading series in Canoga Park since 1994 and is regularly featured at venues throughout Southern California.
Rick created and maintains the Poetry Super Highway, an internet resource and weekly publication for poets. (PoetrySuperHighway.com)
Currently Rick works as a music teacher at synagogues in Southern California and as a graphic and web designer for and for anyone who would like to help pay his mortgage.
"A Poet's Haggadah" is worthy of everyone's eyes and bookshelves.
A Catholic, I am not of the Jewish faith, but Jewish history and traditions are part of my religious heritage, so it's reassuring to read the poems of writers who celebrate the Seder meal of Passover, the rich history of the Jewish people, the love God demonstrated by delivering them to freedom after so many years of persecution.
Let me say how proud I am to have one of my poems,"Saying the Blessing Over Matzah," in this gem of an anthology. And let me also add that, like that bread commercial of years ago where the announcer said, "You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's Bread," let me paraphrase him by concluding with, "You don't have to be Jewish to love "A Poet's Haggadah," a poetry anthology I highly recommend!
Of course, the Haggadah is not a holy scripture. That means it can -- and has over the centuries -- be revised, edited, added to, subtracted from. I used to think the 'real' Haggadah had a blue cover and advertised Maxwell House Coffee. What we think of as a traditional Haggadah is the one that even the Orthodox race through, leaving the children a bit bored and wild. That's why when growing up we never seemed to do the part after the meal, which is actually the lovelier part. Now comes the Haggadah following the standard outline but by original poetry. There are some real winners here: 'Also a Full Moon' by Helen Bar-Lev, which places the narrator celebrating Pesach in Spain, yet another land of sojourn and exile. The wonderful banter in the background of David Gershator's 'Seder' comes when Jews are anxious about opening the door to let in Elijah ('It seems so daring to open the door for nothing'). My father used to sip wine from Elijah's cup when I wasn't looking -- for a long time, this was my equivalent of Santa Claus, and as magical. And I admire the courage of Barbara Elovic's 'Dayenu' where instead of all the good things that happen to Jews, any one of which would be 'enough', she relates all the tsuris that afflict a family; if only one of those things had happened it would have been enough. "Enough already,' she writes. This is a cure for the sentimentality and shmaltziness that obscure the real world where we really didn't recline, eating like the aristocrats.
Rick Lupert is a risk taker. To amend or augment Holy Writ is always a risk. A Poet's Haggadah is a risk worth taking for anyone either steeped in Judaica and its history, or for the casual reader with interest in the topic. What the poets in this collection share is passion and resolve. From the tragicomedy of Adam Shechter's "The Two Questions" and Jake Marmer's "Hayei Olam (Misheberach)" to the high seriousness of Julia Stein's "Miriam's Song," A Poet's Haggadah is an emulation and an agon whose intent is to wrestle with The Haggadah the way Jacob wrestled with the dark angel at the Jabbok River, to gain the name. Do we depart this innovative encounter with a broken hip and a new name? "No" to the hip unless it is tragically hip and "yes" to the name if our names are poesis. I highly recommend this anthology, both as a reader and as a contributor.
I rarely buy books I haven't already looked at -- in the library -- or which have been recommended to me by someone I trust. There's just too much out there. But I took a risk on this one -- so interesting was the premise. A big fan of Passover, and a poet, I was intrigued. Too bad. The poems seem lazy, self-indulgent, and nothing I would bring to a Passover table. The metaphor's left half undone. I put it up for sale on my amazon.com seller account, but I can't actually recommend it. Unless you are interested in poetry which bemoans the complex familial relationships that emerge at times like these. I was looking for paeans to freedom.