By: Alec Holmes 07/03/2018 8:00 pm CST. An interview with a poet.
What’s your name, and what name do you compose under?
My name is Nathaniel Lipstadt, though mostly called Nat, Nattyman and a host of other epithets.
It’s a somewhat poorly kept secret that I compose under many, many different names (over twenty, I finally counted) on HP, where the majority of my writings are first published. These different persona allow me to write in different styles, focus on particular subjects.
Where are you from?
I am a born and bred product of New York City, though for the last ten years, I spend considerable time in the summer on a small island off Long Island.
See, Time to Get Serious: In the Poet’s Nook.
Both locations figure prominently in my writings, so much so that I actually have in poem form apologized for invoking the view of the bay and its surroundings so oft, like painting a still life over and over again from different perspectives
I estimate that since I became active on HP in 2013, written over fifteen hundred poems and another thousand plus lurk in my note file, half writ, or just titles awaiting conception.
The gritty backdrop of NYC, its sidewalk cracks, lampposts, my daily bus rides are often the inspiration that commission poems. See, a bunch of folks in a deli.
The contradiction of these two locales do battle within, neither winning, and from this natal brew is oft where the next poem will be birthed.
What do you do for a living?
My work life is so far away from writing it seems almost ridiculous. Spend hours staring at multiple screens reflecting the financial world, bond prices, breaking news, thinking macro thoughts and the minutiae opportunities and puzzles they create for institutional investors.
That said, my parents were lovers of reading and intellectual debate; my sisters, are historians and writers, and my mother was a lecturer, theater critic, and columnist.
So genetically, I was “contaminated.”
“Critic, speaker, writer,
her fiercest feat,
her leading role, creator.
A near century of memories
her legacy, memories that
linger not, for incised,
chiseled in the granite of the
books, papers, and poetry
and the very being
of her descendants.”
What does your daily life usually consist of?
My life is subdivided:
my work and
my post work activities of love of the arts; ballet, theater, dance, and opera.
Many a time, a line from Shakespeare, Billy Budd, a Tom Stoppard play or a happenstance comment by a young dancer or choreographer will become a poem by early morn next.
Neat and clean. The poetry division is huge for through it, I delve into every aspect of life, birth and death, my love relationships, and the other ‘usual suspects.’ Try mightily to source the nuances of the every day life as poems waiting to be “grabbed ahold of.”
But anything and everything inspires; making the bed backwards, lost pajamas bottoms, and a two minute walk to the road to greet the cheeky paper delivery boy.
As I write this, I realize that at the heart of the matter, we are all story tellers; but my poems are really presented as stories. For example, one theme that appears is a dialogue/dialectic with a supreme being. I am not religious or observant. But I engage in conversations. See, the god of love came to me this morning and asked for a poem (part III of the no love poetry trilogy)
What inspires you most to write poetry?
Probably turned to poetry over 25 years ago, round about my first of many horrific series of marriages and divorces (to the same woman, sigh) – but who can be sure?
I was raised by two wonderful but very different parents.
The raised me as as an observant Jew, which in NYC is a easier task than most. My Judaism has been the origin of many of the poems. A theme, if you will. See, “a bunch of folks in a deli”
Letting my words do my talking, so to speak. Sorry.
My granddaughter’s inability to say yellow: lellow
One of the most unexpected delights of a five year presence on Hello Poetry, had been much to my shocked amazement, is the number of private dialogues that have persisted from the beginning. More to the point,
my famous (to me anyway) quote that:
“anything you say or write can and will be used in a poem!” -Nat Lipstadt
I have no idea how many poems have come from a phrase in a message sent to me by both stranger and friend that hit me between the eyes, slapped my face with instant recognition that a poem was therein contained. It’s like having a personal muse just commissioning over and over again. The trust and the responsibility by so many confiding their travels and travails inspires me repeatedly. This trust is a wonderful thing; an unending shock to me but one that serves; this is a social website and to pump and dump your latest and greatest poem is
almost missing the point.
I have a promise to myself to visit the worlds my poet friends inhabit when time more fully accommodates. My first trip is done. More will follow. The Songs of Oregon
Do you have any advice for new poets?
Advice for new poets?
I write constantly about poetry and composition and you would need another interview just on that topic.
here are some recent and some very, very old ones:
and a favorite
Who are some of your favorite poets?
I don’t want to risk any visitations in my dreamscapes, from ghosts of Poets Past, but currently reading Hafez, 15th century Persian poet who writes like he is alive today.
Is there any wisdom, religion or philosophy that you like to live by?
I screwed myself repeatedly by being afraid of risk taking; In my poetry, I let it all hang out so if you want to know my dirty laundry, it’s “hanging on the line”
free to see and that makes me a better poet.
What is one of your favorite memories that relates to your work?
I sadly believe my best work was my earliest. When it is uncovered/rediscovered, snd gets a huge new number of reads, it is a memory come to life so it is no longer a memory, but a breathtaking realization of who I am and the introduction to new readers entering the conversation.
Asking a poet to write about himself is kind of like committing suicide. In a certain Latin country they say about their neighbor, they climb up to the shoulder of their ego and
The ongoing battle infernal internal between raging egoism and just appreciating being appreciated is the devils only game.
Any Last Words?
It is always the next one, the next step.