Archive for poetry

New Poems at SRPR/ My Wifey Be a Blog Boss

Posted in Fambly, poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2017 by ndemske


Believe it or not, I am still writing and ever so infrequently publishing poems.  Just wanted to give a shout out to Spoon River Poetry Review for publishing two of my poems recently (“This is Not a Prayer” and “Back That Badge Up”), in the midst of a whole bunch of other dope poets I love, including even a few of my favorite Wisco wordsmiths.  It’s not available online, but buy it or tell your local library what’s up and have them subscribe.

So there’s that.  And that is glorious.

The real writer in the family, though, has been killing it lately.


My brilliant, hilarious, stupid AF wife, Angela Malone–who is an Interior Designer–has been blogging for a small design firm she works for called Kelle Dame Design.  Check out their blog page here.  She did the last 3 posts (as of the writing of this blog post, anyways).

Also, though, she’s got her own website now, which also has its own blog component (only one post on that one so far).  The website is called Projeckt Chic–a nod to the Cash Money Millionaires radio edit classic; a song which is honestly just too basic for me to even want to link to it here.  But the website, anyways, can be found here.  Click the blog tab to see her nonsense there, too.

And bam.  There you go.  All the nonsense that’s fit to read.  Enjoy!

New Chapbooks from Smoking Glue Gun Press/ Video of Joyful Noise for Walter Hermanns

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2014 by ndemske

Hi my love,

A press I love, Smoking Glue Gun, is putting out two chapbooks very soon.  They have offered us the opportunity to fund said chapbooks through a crowd sourcing fundraiser campaign.  None of it is just donation–nearly no matter what amount you give, you’ll be getting one or both of the chapbooks.  If you get a little more, there’s a bunch of even cooler gifts from there that you’ll be receiving.  Read about the incentives on the site and watch the video and then, if you can, please contribute to their cause:  They’re less than $500 away from their goal of $2000, so let’s make sure they make their mark.

I had the pleasure of reading and writing a blurb for one of these chapbooks: Nate Pritts’s “Pattern Exhaustion.” And, I have to say, I absolutely loved that little collection.  I would recommend it to anyone, even a lot of people who don’t normally dig poetry.  I think I’m going to buy a copy for my dad…maybe some other people.

So go check this stuff out and support a great upstart press.  And thank you!

In other news, we recently had an event in honor of a Racine, Wisconsin, poet and amazing community member, Walter Hermanns.  The full video of the event is here for your viewing, thanks to our BONK! video homie, Peg Rousar-Thompson.  Thanks Peg, and thanks to everyone who came, especially those who performed.  I read a poem close to the very end and then the amazing Jackson Potter Barrow of one of my favorite young bands, The Barrow Band, plays a rendition he made of Amazing Grace.  The whole room was weeping pretty insanely.  It was beautiful.  I miss Walter every day.  We love you, Walter.  Rest in peace…in rowdiness…

Hey, thanks for visiting.  Have a great day.



Bill Yarrow Being Awesome

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 14, 2013 by ndemske

Bill Murray reading Wallace Stevens

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 28, 2012 by ndemske

I submit to the fact that I love this completely. Thanks to Boston Review for bringing my attentions to it. Enjoy.

An Offensive Conversation

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 20, 2012 by ndemske

If for no other reason, because it took place on the servers of a social networking giant and is the property of whichever corporation wants to buy it for data mining purposes.  Engorge.  Enjoy.
“August 12

Dirt don’t hurt. Do it?

Bethany, whom I’ve never met:
  • Hello Nick!
    I have recently read both your chapbook and your self titled book and have a question.
    What is your intended tone/purpose of using words like “cunt” or “nigger”? How do you see words such as those? Do you believe if one uses them more they lose their power or that the dead bodies hanging on such words make it too heavy to ever lose the offense that may come along with them? I notice that you use a lot of “offensive” words and wondered why, just curious.

    My response:

    “Hey Bethany,

    thanks for your patience on this one. And thanks for taking the time to not only read, but think about my work. The real answer is probably: I don’t know. In the same way that the old bards felt like they were just scribes for muses–vehicles for something else’s voice–I feel that way too. And, to be honest, there are lots of times when I feel like it would be a great relief to be rid of the office of transcribing their dictations, especially when they’re ugly, ugly dictations. But then I think of the old prophets having to report to rulers and say “Well, basically, I portend that your kingdom will fall to rubble,”–which of course they would then be killed for, or something– and I think maybe I got it kind of easy, in retrospect.

    It is a hard question to answer, though, either way. I will say that in a strange inversion of sense, one of the things I find most offensive is the resistance to profane language. Like the recent version of Huck Finn that was published with all instances of the word nigger bowdlerized from it: That scares me and disgusts me way worse than any words…but that’s not to say that I’m not offended by words also. I’m pretty sensitive, honestly. I use these words very little in my daily speech, more just when I’m in some sort of prophetic possession. Sometimes I worry that the people who know me best might just see me as some kind of open wound, actually, because I’m so sensitive to things, but I feel my sensitivity (even if some think it’s an oversensitivity) is a great gift. I’m offended all the time, pretty much constantly, which makes for a heavy burden. I think part of what I’m doing in my writing is trying to recreate that for others that have been desensitized. But, usually, the thing that seems most immediately offensive in the poem (the nigger, the cunt, whatever…) is really the least offensive thing in the poem, or maybe just the most superficially (as opposed to profoundly) offensive thing in the poem. I’ve actually made a term up for this literary strategy I’ve imagined: “decoy offenses.” Those curse words, or the lines that use them, would be the decoy offenses, distracting us from the much much much more horrible things inhabiting the poem right before our very faces.

    One more thing I’ll say–I’m not usually offended by things people do when they realize they’re offensive, or are even intentionally being offensive, like I am in the poetry. I’m usually profoundly offended more by people when they think they’re being perfectly civil and humane.

    This is a really worthwhile question, to me. I’ll post it on my blog, along with my answer, and that way whoever wants to chime in on this conversation with us can. And definitely feel free to add more questions, or just your own reflections on this, too, whether publicly or in a message just to me again.

    And for real, thanks for taking time with the work. I hope it heals us both.


Rescue Press Open Reading Period

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2010 by ndemske

I just sort of stumbled upon this website of a press called “Rescue Press” and realized that it’s run by two friends of mine, Caryl Pagel and Daniel Khalastchi, in Milwaukee– awesome people and, from what work of theirs I’ve heard, killer poets.  The site is dope.  I don’t think they’ve ever even told me about this, unless I forgot.  It’s probably that darn poet’s modesty thing.  Well, either way, they have a free open reading period right now that accepts (actually is exclusive to) electronic submissions.  I was just recently so geeked that Action Yes did this and now here’s another substantive press following those steps…perhaps it’s becoming a norm.  Either way, if you’ve got a book length manuscript of practically any genre or form, you should send it to them.  So there.  Don’t say I never blah blah bletcetera.

Me, Wag

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2010 by ndemske

In preparation for a reading in Racine next month featuring Catherine Wagner, Travis Nichols and Anthony Madrid, I’ve spent the last 5 days with Catherine Wagner’s latest book, “My New Job” (a title I’m really fond of).  It has a lot of distinctive, idiosyncratic qualities to it that I really enjoyed getting to read.  As this wonderful video illustrates (and the person who posted it has almost 300 poetry reading videos on YouTube…thanks, guy), Catherine has a pretty great sense of both music and humor.  While the book heightens a reader’s conscious throughout to serious, species-wide tragedies, Wagner refuses to take herself too seriously, never assuming the easy role of a moral authority or any other such stereotype.  One of the book’s biggest influences and references seems to be Wagner’s son, Ambrose (whose work “Eek eek and eek” can be found here), and it feels this like this influence may be responsible for the book’s exacted balance of profundity and absurdity (in the same way that being an intellectual and a mother requires a tricky balance of the two).

What I find most remarkable about the book is that it seems to illustrate a very particular cultural moment or experience really clearly; being an Anglo, middleclass, American, heterosexual woman in the 21st century; an AMAHW in deuce-uno, if you will.  While the book teeters between opacity and such a personal directness that it’s risky, Wagner still never comes out and explicitly claims, “yeah, this book is about being an AMAHW in the deuce-uno.”  But, what at first seem like casual asides (she finishes one piece, for instance,  with the line “What a heterosexist poem!” which half sounds like disapproval and half sounds like Whitmanic celebration), start to add up through the book.  These moments never lose their comic value, but it definitely becomes a tragic humor and a self-aware humor–a humor that questions itself.  As a reader, I found myself confronted with my own laughter at the most fucked parts.  And I use that word very deliberately, because large sections of the book are devoted to analyses (huh huh…yses) of fucking in all its many connotations (see this interview with Wagner in BOMB for more).

Wagner’s consideration of the AMAHW in the deuce-uno is so significant to me because it’s a role in which the individual experiences a unique tension of privilege and oppression or, maybe more accurately, being the oppressed and the oppressor simultaneously.  In the title poem, which is also the last poem in the book, she asks,

“How can I         from inside this comfort

Represent          Hope to

No no

I am                   Too tempted

To think I                  Deserve it

Rigidly and with effort

know my privilege”

[the formatting is slightly different in the book]

These thematic sentiments take on a greater urgency as the book builds more and more momentum, especially, I think because her son seems such a central character to it, and the issue of how not to pass one’s fuckedness (comfort in the role of oppressor) demands urgent attention.  It’s a book super-relevant to our culture at this moment and I think its very existence bodes well for the future.

Come to the Reading, you silly geese! (see this link for more info)

(more info on the reading…not on silly geese).