Will Work for Hammock

I've been away from the blogosphere for a few days, but I hope to pick it up again regularly. A lot going on the last week with Issue 4 of Grist: The Journal for Writers, revising my essay for AWP, planning for AWP, and teaching a class I've never taught before. Well, I've taught fiction writing before, just not a purely fiction class. As with any new course, there are many hours of planning required, and many hours of unforeseen problem solving.

Anyways, I just wanted to hop back online and mention that I received a wonderful surprise in the mail a couple days ago: Nick Demske by Nick Demske sent by Fence Books on behalf of Nick Demske!

Really looking forward to reading it (and maybe reviewing it) after things settle down into the post-AWP ennui. Should be a good pick-me-up.

I've previously posted thoughts on Nick's poems at Against Oblivion here, but I also want to point you toward a few recent reviews of Nick Demske:

Elisa Gabbert review @ Like Fire
Blake Butler review @ HTML Giant
Joyelle McSweeney @ Montevidayo

A couple quick things about the book that I didn't realize until holding it in my hot little hands. From all the pictures on the interwebs, it looks like a regular 6x8" poetry collection:

Nick Demske - regularized

But in actuality, the book opens horizontally, thus making the cover all the more disturbing and the handling of the book disorienting. Like this:

Nick Demske - actual
Something else about this book worth noting: the back cover.

Nick lives in Racine, Wisconsin, and his U.S. Congressman is Paul Ryan. Yep, that Paul Ryan. The one who gave one of the rebuttals to President Obama's recent State of the Union Address and said the following:
"Our nation is at a tipping point. We are at a moment where if government's growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America's best century will be considered our past century. This is a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency."
As you might guess, I take issue with the majority of Ryan's and the Republicans' claims, but I struggle to locate the language for a summation of my reaction. Therefore, I'll let Eric Laursen at Fire Dog Lake say it for me: "But the Ayn Randian in the boyish congressperson from Wisconsin couldn’t help preaching against the moral iniquity of social insurance, just for a moment." Or, as Johnathan Chait at The New Republic noted in a column last spring:
Ryan would retain some bare-bones subsidies for the poorest, but the overwhelming thrust in every way is to liberate the lucky and successful to enjoy their good fortune without burdening them with any responsibility for the welfare of their fellow citizens.
This is the core of Ryan's moral philosophy:
"The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand," Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead." ...
At the Rand celebration he spoke at in 2005, Ryan invoked the central theme of Rand's writings when he told his audience that, "Almost every fight we are involved in here on Capitol Hill ... is a fight that usually comes down to one conflict--individualism versus collectivism."
The core of the Randian worldview, as absorbed by the modern GOP, is a belief that the natural market distribution of income is inherently moral, and the central struggle of politics is to free the successful from having the fruits of their superiority redistributed by looters and moochers.
Anyway, take of that what you will. But look at the back cover of Nick's book! It's a letter to Nick from Paul Ryan. The timing could not be more perfect! And it really is a nice, friendly letter. Can't wait to read Ryan's forthcoming review which I'm sure will be published in Rain Taxi or at The Rumpus real soon. I'm so so sure, in fact, that I am holding my breath....


Nick Demske - back cover