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We Are All Sleeping with Our Sneakers On (Paperback)

We Are All Sleeping with Our Sneakers On By Matthew Lippman Cover Image
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We Are All Sleeping with Our Sneakers On showcases Matthew Lippman’s characteristic humor, strangeness, and honesty at the peak of his lyrical powers. These poems embrace mess as an inevitability of authentic living and human interconnection.  Lippman gathers us into a bouquet. Picked from the garden and stems trimmed with the kitchen shears, maybe, but flowers all the same. In “The Big White American Segregation Machine,” Lippman narrates the moment when the partitions that maintain white cognitive dissonance collapse. He says to a friend, “Private education sucks,” but reflexive commiseration turns his gaze inward. “Then I realized I was a teacher. / Not that I was a teacher. / That I was a teacher in a private school.” He confronts, even as he does not solve, the way the collective delusion of the American Dream alienates us from sustainable living. “At some point in my life I wanted to be a firefighter,” Lippman reminisces. “So did the person next door and the stock broker / and the kid who punched the other kid on the playground. / I am sure of it.” Why such insistence? “It has to be true / because wanting to be a firefighter / is the only thing that keeps the world / from not being torn asunder / by flame, and ash, and an impossible, raging / heat.” In delineating the psychology of nostalgia, Lippman brilliantly reveals the fear of destruction and myopic sense of self-preservation that prevent us from leveraging goodness, from allowing combustion to clear the way for something better. “How does one change the culture, the mind culture, the heart culture?” he asks. “How does that happen? / More flowers? / More iced tea? / More ballet and modern dance? / Maybe more oboe and piano.” In the end, the strength of Lippman’s poems comes from the sincerity of their questioning and his willingness to muster an answer despite the world’s surplus of doubt and despair. “Hello kindness,” this poet tries again. “I am here and I want to hold your velvet hand / through the dark movie theater with the sticky, crunchy floors.” If that is all there is, it is mercifully enough. 

About the Author

We Are All Sleeping with Our Sneakers On is Matthew Lippman’s 7th poetry collection. He has won numerous awards for his poetry. He lives and works in New England.

Praise For…

Late at night, one night, a man holds his daughter’s hand, a thing as normal, we’re told, as sauna-sweaty nudes in Finland walking their dogs. Except this man’s a poet, rejected, and wondering if he’s relevant, and the girl’s anaphylaxis makes her afraid she can’t breathe. And outside is outside, maybe. Maybe there’s a deadly plague rampant on Earth, maybe it’s Covid, maybe it’s whiteness, maybe it’s Nazis, neos, or racist post-shtetl grandmamas? Maybe it’s relevance? We don’t always know,maybe.Neither does Matthew Lippman know. But in the way only real poems know, that is, know how, these poems do know, have learned, that it’s never just about peanuts and editors, or flame, or relevance, or Nazis. It’s not. At times we wish it was—it’s that we’re here, and these poems know what it is to be here, and how, always “burning with not enough,” and “trying to feel something,” it comes down to how to “turn the neighborhood into a neighborhood.” We Are All Sleeping With Our Sneakers On puts us in midst of all that happening, which is one thing happening, maybe, which is everything, which is the only thing happening.

—Ed Pavlić, Author of Call It in the Air

In a world “too much about the mind,” ideological differences, and social performance, Matthew Lippman has written a love ballad to our times that aims straight at the heart. He conjures the Romantic ideals—beauty, truth, goodness—in an absurdist contemporary idiom, with genuine feeling taking center stage, as a corrective and balm in a world where unity, togetherness, and intimacy have been lost. Traversing past and present and our costumed and nude selves, this collection invokes music, baseball, family, strangers, cities, and stories, turning zombies back into humans and “invent[ing] an algorithm to slow everything down.” A soundtrack to your formative memories and companion in your loneliest hour, We Are All Sleeping With Our Sneakers On recalls Sufism’s ecstasy and devotion to the beloved, singing beyond all divisions “there should always be love.” 

—Virginia Konchan, Author of Bel Canto 

Reading Matthew Lippman’s poetry is like being shaken out of a deep slumber to behold, sud- denly, a glimmer of possibility under every surface. Daring, urgent, and suffused with longing, this collection cracks through the walls that keep us strangers to ourselves and one another, seizing on to what is most true and vital about being human. Whether writing about fatherhood, music, rac- ism, whiteness, performance art, baseball, New York City in the 80s, or pandemic suburbia, what Lippman is really writing about—always—is what it means to love.

—Nicole Graev Lipson, Pushcart Prize-Winning Author of Mother and Other Fictional Characters

Product Details
ISBN: 9781954245860
ISBN-10: 1954245866
Publisher: Four Way Books
Publication Date: March 15th, 2024
Pages: 90
Language: English