Nick is my colleague down here in Tallahassee but I think of him as a Midwestern poet, specifically an Ohio poet because he’s from Akron. He makes Akron seem cool, like the Black Keys make Akron seem cool. The first time I hung out with him, he came and joined a bunch of poets on my porch, brought a bottle of excellent whiskey, and wrote a bunch of poems with the group on the backs of pizza boxes. I still have those pizza boxes. They are, as Nick would say, “Rad”. He’s not just cool though, he’s impressive. Every time I turn around, Nick’s doing something awesome related to poetry, or he’s got a new poem appearing somewhere awesome. Like when I went to his Facebook wall to catch up on where he’s at on his current book tour, I saw that many of his friends were re-posting this new poem of his, which was recently published on the PEN American Center’s website. I would say that Nick is just having a really good summer but believe me, he’s like this all year long.
H_NGM_N recently published his first book of poetry:
Like Nick himself, his book is doing things. Lots of things. He’s got several poems called “What a Tremendous Time We’re Having,” spliced between other poems, my favorite of which have titles that start with “Basic Guide…” He’s got a Basic Guide to History that would make Woody Guthrie and Emma Goldman blush. He’s got a Basic Guide to Friendship, which made enchiladas sound delicious and necessary. He’s got a Basic Guide to Success, Basic Guide to Growing Up, and a Basic Guide to Emergency that had one of my favorite lines in the whole book:
Every moment is an emergency and every emergency is an array of juxtaposition and grace.”
His book is anything but basic. It’s an unbasic guide to a whole bunch of truths, and many of these truths had me laughing in public. In some ways, reading Nick’s poems reminded me of last Thanksgiving, when I spent the afternoon in my apartment with my brother listening to all the Mitch Hedberg Youtube had to offer. Like this line of Nick’s:
I wash my laundry in blue sauce.
and this line, which comes from the same “What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!” poem:
Sunflowers have the hospital surrounded
Like Mitch Hedberg, Nick’s poems are full of moments that make me stop and say, “Huh.I never saw it like that…” Moments that, I would say, indicate that I’m reading great poetry. Some of these moments are sad, or nostalgic, or humble:
I feel like an air conditioner emitting/a kind of stupid music for you all but all I want/is not to be invisible.”
In the end, his repeated title proves true. We’re having a tremendous time and we don’t want it to end. Knowing Nick, there are plenty of tremendous poems coming soon.
You can buy his book here.
You can also watch H_NGM_N’s promotional video for his book: