Welcome, Paulie Lipman, to the Swimming with Elephants Publications family!
Out of Denver, Colorado, Paulie comes “from below” and rises to join our parade of writers.
A two time National Poetry Slam finalist, Paulie Lipman is a loud Jewish Queer poet, performer, and writer. His work has appeared in the anthology ‘We Will Be Shelter’ (Write Bloody Publishing) as well as The Emerson Review, Drunk In A Midnight Choir, Voicemail Poems, pressure gauge, and Prisma (Zeitblatt Fur Text & Sprache).
A magical individual, I’ve had the chance to share at least one meal with Paulie in a group setting during the 2015 Denver 40 oz. regional slam; from there, I can recollect Paulie’s genuine kindness, their welcoming spirit, their talent in writing and performing, their endless inspirations and ideas, and their sort of soft loudness that allows others to be heard while their voice lifts in passionate intervals. At the time, I was a “newbie” to competitive slam, but it was with that interaction that Paulie, a veteran to slam to my eyes, made me feel heard throughout the group conversation, going so far as to ask me questions personally so I might be involved in the busy-ness that often overwhelms when you’re sat at a table full of poets.
Their upcoming title with SwEP, “from below/denied the light,” is a deep exploration of addiction, sobriety, spirituality, and identity. With micro-poem interludes, Paulie captivates with self-recognized flaws from the beginning, sharing with readers:
I am a snob when I have no right to be
I judge people who don’t read
Even though I’m a recovering junkie, I have
little tolerance for current ones
I love and help those who deserve it, don’t
ask me how I determine that
Nevertheless, he shines as an example in this brutal self-recognition of knowing he may be “horrible to love”; and still, his work is so easy to fall into as he touches on subjects of his queer identity and how it conflicts with his Jewish blood, and his path into recovery as he addresses past self-destruction.
Of course, with all this to consider, as the title may suggest, Paulie’s book is not a “light” read. Combatting demons throughout, Paulie has managed to create a subtle journey into sobriety and spirituality without overwhelming in its occasional anger and the quiet sadness of providing his own funeral dirge (in a poem aptly named Dirge). And even then, there is a tenderness on the final, lamentful line (but I’ll leave that to mystery).
Beautifully worded and artfully ordered, “from below/denied the light” is available for pre-order on Paulie’s site.