Hunka Hunka Howdee!
by Rick Lupert
185 poems, 276 pages + Artwork
Publisher: Ain’t Got No Press
To Order: Amazon.com
ABOUT THE BOOK:
In “Hunka Hunka Howdee!” multi-Pushcart Poetry Prize nominee Rick Lupert, acts as
tour guide to three iconic American cities: Memphis, Nashville and Louisville. In perhaps
the understatement of the year, “this is no ordinary here are the highlights tour.” Lupert’s
offbeat humor serves as cover for well-crafted poetry designed to hit his lucky readers
with the truth of our lives as we live them in all of their “messiness.” More importantly,
however, Lupert is poignantly aware of the critical roles each of these tour-cities have
played (and continue to play) in American history. Because of Lupert’s unique poetic
approach, “Hunka Hunka Howdee!” Will have you laughing and crying, nodding in
agreement, Ah, yes, I’ve been there; what he’s saying is so true.
In "Hunka Hunka Howdee!" Rick Lupert defamiliarizes iconic auras with a reverent,
droll insouciance. Like Sam Phillips, Lupert is in quest of the "perfect imperfection," that
telling, subdued quirkiness in our cultural capital that every sincere flaneur of a tourist
wants to provoke into revealing its most poignant secret. The best of these poems come
close enough to being both seductive satire and genuinely sentimental encounters that
you will want to linger with their wit. In reminding us of the elsewhere that always
shadows here, Lupert's deftly sketched poems will help you keep "one foot each on and
off / the beaten path" of skeptical wonder at the world's on-going peculiarities.
—Bill Mohr, author of The Headwaters of Nirvana, and
HOLDOUTS: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance 1948-1992
Rick Lupert is an exceptional poet. He’s also as funny as Robin Williams at his most
manic. These marvelous traveling poems work like little magic mechanical whatsits, but
with a life to them that can only come from literary alchemy. Being a Memphian I was
particularly enthralled by how much of my city he captures in his short, beguiling lines.
Like, these from “The Heavy King:” “I saw his cars and jumpsuits and/would have
touched everyone//if it weren't for the signs.//…...Good evening, Memphis. And
goodnight./I'll meet your other King tomorrow." Lupert is an impish poet and he uses the
playthings of language as if they were his very own Mousetrap game. “I have 20/20
vision,” he says, “but all the evidence points to me also having 20/20 visions.” This
delightful collection is a trip with such a charming guide you’ll want to take it over and
—Corey Mesler, author of Madstones and Memphis Movie
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Los Angeles poet Rick Lupert is the author of many books of poetry, including Hunka
Hunka Howdee! (his 23rd collection). He was awarded the Distinguished Service Award
by Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice, CA. He has been widely published
and regularly performs his work at any place that has air-conditioning or that serves food
as part of the festivities. He also works as a freelance graphic designer in Southern
California, where he lives with his wife, son and five cats.
FROM THE BOOK:
The Future Mayor
by Rick Lupert
We meet the selfproclaimed future mayor of Memphis
in an art gallery collective space on Main Street.
He scoffs when we tell him we’re going to Graceland.
He says they only tell you about Graceland and
Beale Street, and the Civil Rights Museum, and not
the real Memphis. His Memphis…the one of art collectives
and Slave Haven. The one of barbecue joints we couldn’t
possibly eat at because of our personal prohibitions.
I tell him there’s a reason Niagara Falls is one of the most
visited tourist attractions. It’s not because it’s popular.
It’s because it’s awesome. I keep one foot each on and off
the beaten path. I lift what enters both eyes equally high.
I think he sees my point and realizes we did wander
into an arts collective. He wants us to come back for
his coronation, though I don’t think that’s the word he used.
He’s got agents in Los Angeles and says he’s going to need us.
He is friendly like most people we’ve met in Memphis.
They rival Ireland with their eagerness to smile.
We smile and walk away towards the famous Beale Street.
Tomorrow we’ll meet the King, or at least his ghost.
I haven’t slept since the word Monday lined our calendars.
My ability to keep my eyes open, has left the building.