Pioneer High School Poet is Inspired by Graffiti


Chalk Graffiti under the Farmer's Market awning, Ann Arbor

Michaela Carmein

Chalk Graffiti under the Farmer's Market awning, Ann Arbor

On Thursday, November 4, many poets, both professional and aspiring, had the opportunity to be only voice heard echoing across the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater in the Michigan League.  One of the this year’s Poetry Night writers was Joe Lipson, currently a Senior at Pioneer High school.  On stage, in front of the hundreds, Lipson described certain works of art: graffiti with a purpose beyond its appeal to the eye.

Lipson timed his poem before hand and it was 3 minutes and 59 seconds, a time well under the five-minute cap.  “I got to the event and Mr. Kass had a change of  plans.  He said, ‘No Madonna poems, no diva poems, they all gotta be under 2 minutes 30 seconds.’  I borrowed a pen from Alyssa and was like ‘scribble scribble baby, scribble scribble.’”  Lipson’s final draft was an amalgamation, a stripped down version of a stripped down version. “I’m always worried that there’s something I’ll leave out that someone will be like, ‘oh that’s really cool, why did he take that out?’”

The final draft of Lipson’s poem did not have all the examples of graffiti he had prepared for the show.  Somewhere in the United States there is  real estate banner on the side on side of an agency that has been tampered with.  It reads simply, “The secret of happiness is….”

“They just blanked it out,” said Lipson, “and I thought that was very clever.”

Joe Lipson

Poetry has been a part of Lipson’s life for years, and some of his poems date all the way back to elementary school.  “I remember writing my first poem about a sunset I watched in Canada, and I was like ‘This is pretty cool, I should put this into words instead of photographs.” Lipson didn’t began to pursue the passion until the end of his junior year.  Once he started writing consistently, words began to to come in situations where he couldn’t always write them down. “It’s kind of scary not having them down on paper, you know, nailed down.”

Lipson’s inspiration often comes from his desire to express events, or address topics in a way that will make the audience perceive them differently. “When you write a poem, you write it from the perspective of a person. You’re not seeing it as it is, you’re seeing it from a particular perspective which is a very important distinction.”

Graffiti in Kerrytown, Ann Arbor