English professor wins state literary award

October 14, 2010 | Arts, UToday
By Ashley Traynum



A University of Toledo professor who uses words and art to share his passion for poetry is one of 16 artists who will receive a 2010 Ohioana Award from the Ohioana Library Association.

Joel Lipman, UT professor of English, will receive the Pegasus Award for Unique and Outstanding Achievements at the Ohioana Library Association’s Ohioana Day celebration Saturday, Oct. 16, in the Ohio Statehouse Atrium on Capitol Square. The Ohioana Pegasus Award was first given in 1964 and recognizes unique or outstanding contributions or achievements in the arts and humanities.

“A lot of people out there are good poets. But the fact that Lipman does the community organizing, grant writing and public engagement to make poetry impact people’s daily lives makes him stand out,” said Dr. Tom Barden, director of the UT Honors Program and professor of English, who nominated Lipman for the award.

Lipman’s career spans more than 35 years as a professor and community activist. He has received numerous honors, including being named the Lucas County Poet Laureate, and has worked in the community as the director of the Toledo Poet Center to promote literary works to Toledo residents.

“I’ve been involved in arts activism for years. It is something that was instilled in me during graduate school,” Lipman said. “I am especially honored to receive this award. I am especially pleased to be named with the other honorees; to be in the same company is a privilege.”

webcurves-of-poetry13Lipman’s work isn’t the typical poetry one would find in a traditional book. His visual poetry uses elements of art, painting and graphic design to bring the words to life on the page as one reads. Visual poetry’s precedents are ancient alphabets, antiquarian fragments, the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, typography, the livre d’artiste, the print broadside and graphic design.

“When composing a visual poem, I work individually, letter by letter, with the form and shape of the manipulated letter or small unit of letters that are as important as the larger idea or narrative,” Lipman explained.

The University community and the nation will have the opportunity to view Lipman’s work when two of his visual poems will be published in the January issue of Poetry, the country’s oldest poetry periodical.

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