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Published: Saturday, 12/1/2007

UT professor to be named Lucas County poet laureate

Lipman Lipman

Joel Lipman has spent his life creating and teaching poetry. He'll spend the next two years doing the same things, only he'll have a fancy title attached to his name.

The Lucas County commissioners will name Mr. Lipman, a University of Toledo professor, the first poet laureate in county history, Commissioner Ben Konop said yesterday.

Mr. Konop said the commissioners will pass a resolution giving Mr. Lipman the honorary, unpaid, two-year position at their next meeting on Dec. 11.

Mr. Konop said the county has a vibrant poetry scene, and installing a poet laureate will strengthen the area's reputation, boost economic development opportunities, and provide educational opportunities for youths.

"A poet laureate who goes into schools and works with the students will teach them to use their minds creatively and expand their vocabulary and their understanding of the human condition," Mr. Konop said.

Mr. Konop said Mr. Lipman not only will fulfill educational duties, but will be available for ceremonial purposes as well.

Mr. Lipman, 65, a professor of English, art, and visual language who's been at UT since 1975, is nationally known for his work as a visual poet - combining words, glyphs, signs, and objects to convey his messages.

He has had numerous poetry books published, is a five-time recipient of Ohio Arts Council individual artist fellowships in poetry, and is a previous winner of the Ohio Governor's Award for Individual Artists.

Mr. Lipman said he was honored to learn of the commissioners' wishes to name his as the county's poet laureate.

"This is a great honor, as we live in a community with a lot of literary activity," Mr. Lipman said.

Mr. Lipman was informed of the commissioners' intentions by Mr. Konop yesterday via a cell phone call while he was dining with his wife at a Chinese restaurant in Chicago. He was finishing up a week-long poetry residence at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he said he taught daily workshops on poetry and painting in conjunction with the works of artist Jasper Johns.

Mr. Konop said he picked Mr. Lipman as the county's poet laureate after conferring with other published poets in and around Toledo. "They all came to a consensus that Joel Lipman was someone who could aptly represent the art form of poetry in Lucas County," Mr. Konop said.

- Joe Vardon

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