Matthew Lippman: Poet, Creator of the “3 Thing Rule”

Matthew Lippman
Matthew Lippman: Poet & Creator of the “3 Thing Rule”

Meet Matthew Lippman, one of the most original poets, writing some of the most lively poetry today.

Lippman is author of four poetry collections:  American Chew, (Burnside Review Book Prize); Salami Jew (Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize); Monkey Bars;  The New Year of Yellow (Kathryn A. Morton Poetry Prize). Matthew’s other awards and honors include the Georgetown Review Magazine Prize, Jerome J. Shestak Poetry Prize from the American Poetry Review, Michener Fellowship in Poetry, New York State Foundation of The Arts Grant, and others.

Currently Matthew is working on his Parking Lot Poems series. He writes the poems in parking lots, parked in his car; he records them, again in his car, and then posts them on YouTube. A recent poem from this series, PARKING LOT POEM AT THE INTERSECTION OF FAST FOOD AND GRASS FED (In Delirious Fury), is at the end of this conversation.

Matthew_parking lot 1

SUZE BIENAIMEE: Thank you for joining me on StudioSeeds, Matthew.  What inspires you?

MATTHEW LIPPMAN: Everyday ‘things’ are my muse. I find joy in nothing. Or, in nothingness. I find inspiration in the fork, the half eaten tangerine, the electrical technician sitting in his truck. The things my high school students say, my kids, the phone bill, the traffic jam. It’s right there for the taking.

Poetry is the celebration of the mundane and so I try and pay attention to everything I might otherwise take for granted. All the little things. The big things, too. I am always trying to figure out in my poetry how disparate things fit together.

Pop culture is a big deal for me. At 50, nostalgic pop culture is probably a bigger deal than it should be. Earlier in the summer I found myself in a nostalgia stupor. I was thinking about being 18. My girlfriend at the time, Bonnie, loved me very much. I loved her very much. We did not listen to Cheap Trick in our most intimate moments. We listened to Rickie Lee Jones. Gives you an idea of how our heads were screwed into our hearts. Her cousin, or second cousin is Jann Wenner, founder of Rolling Stone. During the spring of our senior year courtship he had offered us free tickets and a limo ride to Madison Square Garden to see Cheap Trick. We declined. It wasn’t till years later that I really understood the pop beauty of Cheap Trick. But, thank god I did.

Books by Matthew Lippman
Four Books by Matthew Lippman

Still, it’s never enough just to write about one thing in a poem. You have to write about three. I think the thing I most enjoy about poetry is the “3 Thing Rule” I have established for myself. I want to take one thing from the garden, one thing from the back of my heart, and one thing from the trash can, smash them all in together and make something new. This is the kind of stuff that interests me, turns me on, and makes my mind whizzle and dizzle. It’s just a joy I get from being in the world as fully as possible.

SUZE BIENAIMEE: Inspiration galore! Definitely “whizzle and dizzle”! Love your creation of the “3 Thing Rule” and your Parking Lot Poems! Thank you so much for joining me on StudioSeeds, as well as sharing this recent poem:


Down by the river of Wendy’s and McDonalds
I wanted a grass fed burger
but couldn’t find a canoe
to take me to Vermont.
So, I jumped in the water and began to swim up
The Connecticut,
find a farm in Sheffield or Johnson
that would provide me with a cow
fed solely on grass
for the slaughter.
Problem was there were too many TVs clogging up the water.
Then phones.
All playing the same video of gray shirted policemen with water hoses
spraying the protestors.
Imagine that? Water hoses in the water
filled with gunshots
as I did the breast stroke for my nutritionally sound
piece of beef.
As hard as I kicked, though, it didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere
and who was I anyway
to be swimming from the fast food?
I am fast food.
On my best days I am a Whopper with the fake cheese.
Because if you live in a country of junk
the junk is in you
and you have to do everything in your power
to get it out.
So, I kicked.
I kicked and kicked
up against the Mitsubishis and Galaxies.
Up against the white cops hosing down the black kids.
Up against an entire nation of rubber gloved insane people–
half of us trying to get it right,
half of us sitting at the Drive-Thru with the shades down.
The current seemed way too much for me,
but isn’t that the point?
No matter what kind of burger you crave,
you have to be in it—
the swim, the heart beating, the muscles tearing.
So, I kept moving my arms and legs in delirious fury,
yelling at everyone on the shore to jump in,
to come on in,
the swell of bigotry reigning down on my wet
and black haired head
miles away from any uniformed employee
at the stainless steel counter,
smiling, and taking orders.
—Matthew Lippman

Please connect with Matthew Lippman in the COMMENTS section for this post.

Here is the direct link to Matthew reading: PARKING LOT POEM AT THE INTERSECTION OF FAST FOOD AND GRASS FED (In Delirious Fury)

Matthew Lippman reading his poetry from his Parking Lot Poems Series
In the car: Matthew Lippman reading poetry from his series: Parking Lot Poems

Matthew has posted many poems from his Parking Lot series and you can enjoy them all by searching “Parking Lot Poems” on YouTube.


For Matthew’s Books.  .  .

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Connect with Suze Bienaimee: or SuzeBienaimee

Matthew Lippman: Poet, Creator of the “3 Thing Rule” StudioSeeds Inspire By Suze Bienaimee

13 thoughts on “Matthew Lippman: Poet, Creator of the “3 Thing Rule””

  1. Great conversation. I love this.

    I am curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind before writing. I have had a hard time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there. I do enjoy writing, but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips?

  2. Matthew Lippman says:

    I just put myself in a quiet place and start writing. See what comes out and then guide it. I usually focus on the little things around me, or something that happened recently, and move from there. My connection to writing is that it is not outside the mundane stuff of the world, but part of it. Writing is as mundane as tying the shoe, opening a box of cereal, putting my kids to bed, and doing the laundry. It has that quality for me and so, in many ways, it’s beautiful and boring and everyday. I don’t want to put too much importance on it, like, “it’s art”. It is quiet contemplation more than anything.

  3. Hello there and many thanks for your information – I’ve certainly learned something new.

    I’m adding this RSS to my e-mail and will look forward to a whole lot more of your interesting content.

  4. I think this is creative and very good. Cheers!

  5. This conversation was… how would you say it? Relevant!! I’ve finally found something which helped me. Thanks a lot!

  6. I liked reading this and have many reasons to return.

  7. Hey there! I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new conversations.

  8. Awesome things here. I’m very happy to read this. Thanks so much.

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