The Complete Elevator Poems

First Annual Berkshire Fine Arts Poetry Contest

By: - Jan 27, 2015


The first annual Berkshire Fine Arts Poetry Contest was launched serendipitously.

Arriving in New York at the National Arts Club for a week of theatre and museums we were dismayed to learn that its elevator, the second oldest in the city, was out of service, indefinitely.

That meant hauling heavy bags up and down three floors in the venerable Tilden Mansion. The Club is colorful with inexpensive "Transient Rooms" but run down. Particularly after decades of mismanagement by the ousted former president, Aldon O. James, his twin brother, their best friend and shady supporters.

It took massive law suits to evict the scoundrels who bilked the club for their own pleasure and ran up legal fees in their own and frivolous litigation.

Now on firm footing the club faces years of fund raising and renovation. Including replacing that ancient elevator.

Loaded with Christmas presents for travel on to D.C and the grandchildren Astrid's bag was particularly heavy.

By the end of a week of racing all over Manhattan my left knee was severely strained. I limped home with ice and heat pads. Eventually it required a cortisone shot and is still not right.

In an e mail blast to our readers I mentioned how the out of service elevator had resulted in this severe injury.

My pal, Jonas Dovydenas, who likes to spar with me made an interesting remark by e mail. He is familiar with the eccentric National Arts Club but sanctioned me against writing a poem about its elevator. Emphatically, he proclaimed that elevators are not an appropriate inspiration for poetry.

Of course immediately, in the poem December, I did just that. In a blast to readers I mentioned defying the taboo against elevator poems.

In a matter of moments Arnie Reisman, my former editor in college and at Boston After Dark (Phoenix), posted an elevator poem. The Poet Laureate of Martha's Vineyard just happened to have one lying about.

This second elevator themed poem launched the official contest with the results and links appearing below.

Since he started this I had thought of asking Jonas to judge the contest and perhaps donate a nice prize. But he nixed that by posting, of all things, an elevator poem. Nice move. When you can't beat them, join them. But his effort is somewhat subversive. He launched his own contest with a prize to those who correctly identified all of his literary references. The poet Stephen Rifkin came close but Jonas did not reward him with a cigar. Actually, an original photograph of a vintage Chicago elevator. Robert Henriquez responded to Jonas with his poem Elevator of Crows.

From the first on December 16 to the most recent, three on January 26, the flow of elevator inspired poems has been remarkable. As you see below the number and variety is quite astonishing.

Who knew.

Now it's up to you. Please send us your votes for first, second and third.

These results will comprise the Reader's Prize.

The poems will also be juried by the faculty and literary students of MCLA. This is being negotiated by Stephen Rifkin in dialogue with Professor Mark Miller.

We truly thank all of those who contributed to this project. It has been exciting and fun.

Well Jonas, another fine mess you've gotten us into.

The Elevator Poems

Charles Giuliano, December, December 16

Arnie Reisman, Life in the Lift, December 16

Arthur Yanoff, Elevator Poem Contest, December 16

Jane Hudson, Interview in a High Rise, December 16

Benno Friedman, The Elevator, December 16

Larry Murray, Girth and Mirth, December 17

Robert Rendo, Door Parted, December 17

Charles Giuliano, Elevated Interaction, December 17

Susan Hall, 26th Floor, December 17

Charles Giuliano, Stairway to Heaven, December 17

Chris Busa, Elevators Elevate Enlightenment, December 17

Robert Rendo, Really, December 19

Mark St. Germain, Thank You Archimedes, December 20

Stephen Rifkin, Stops, December 20

Robert Rendo, Going Down, December 22

Astrid Hiemer, Paternoster Old European Elevators, January 3

Chris Busa, Elevator in the Key of E, January 3

Bob Fowler, Behind Closed Doors, January 5

David Zaig, Elevator Poem, January 5

Lisa Avery, Good Elevator Bad Elevator, January 5

Robert Henriquez, First Ride, January 8

Jonas Dovydenas, The Elevator Not Taken, January 8

Robert Henriquez, Elevator of Crows, January 8

Bob Fowler, Elevator Shoes, January 9

Charles Giuliano, Dante on the Elevator, January 9

Gail Burns, Rules of the Elevator, January 9

Pippy Giuliano, Elevator Adventure, January 9

Carl Chiarenza, Up and Down, January 9

Bruce Garlow, Elevator Flirt, January 10

Yehuda Hanani, Elevator Options, January 17

Astrid Hiemer, Elevator and the Old Elbtunnel at Hamburg Harbor, January 26

Sarah Sutro, Elevator, January 26

Matuschka, A Tart Elevator Poem, January 26