Poetry, Performances, & Poem-Films

I am interested in a poetics of expansive autobiographical practice that includes a range of experimental, narrative, and multimedia techniques and styles. My poems often engage modes of lyric narrative complicated by artificiality and digression, collage and deep reference methods that unframe the space of the poem, interwoven lists and litanies, and a prosody textured by broad juxtapositions of tones and discourses. Poets such as William Carlos Williams, Susan Howe, Jack Spicer, Bernadette Mayer, and Lisa Robertson are major influences for these formal choices. From these poets I have also gained a devotion to long poems that oscillate between prose and poetry, a form that challenges the distinctions between poetry and nonfiction while amplifying the aesthetic values of both genres. These long poems aim to be an affective archive accumulated in encounter with questions related to gender, family, performance, and canonicity as they emerge in literature, film, music, and other forms of popular culture.

Performing poem-video from  1999  at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center.

Performing poem-video from 1999 at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center.

My current project, 1999, is a video-poem performance-based chapbook that rewrites scenes from teen movies released in the year 1999, including Varsity Blues, She’s All That, Cruel Intentions, and 10 Things I Hate About You. Poems from 1999 have been performed at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center and at MailChimp’s Get Lit Series.

My second book of poetry, Another Mona Bone Jakon, a suite of multimedia poems about family, music, gender, and pop culture, is forthcoming in 2020. Sections of the book have been published in The Brooklyn RailBlack Warrior Review, PEN, Tagvverk, and Big Lucks. A full list of poetry publications and poem-films are included below.


Audio chapbook from Black Cake Records:  https://blackcake.org/album/flowers-and-money

Audio chapbook from Black Cake Records: https://blackcake.org/album/flowers-and-money


The series Flowers and Money act as a set of otherworldly interstitial narratives in Another Mona Bone Jakon that activate ideas about filmic movement, time, beauty, and technology. The title "Flowers and Money" is from a poem of the same title in Kevin Killian's Action Kylie. These poems are an homage to him (1952-2019).


My first book of poetry, How We Light, was published in 2013. I have also published a number of chapbooks, including Beautiful Out (H_NGM_N, PDF available here) // A Basic Guide (Bateau Press) // What a Tremendous Time We're Having! (iO Books) // I Feel Yes (Forklift Books) // the audio chapbook Flowers and Money (Black Cake Records), as well as the collaborative chapbooks I Was Not Even Born (Coconut), with Wendy Xu, and Nancy and the Dutch and Labor Day (Forklift Books), an erasure of paperback biographies of Ronald and Nancy Reagan with Carrie Lorig (PDF available here).

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Praise and Reviews for How We Light:

"Poem after poem of Nick Sturm’s is the embodiment of pure benevolence and joy. Filled with virtuosic surprises at every turn, this, my friends, is the poetry of the future." - Noelle Kocot

"Nick Sturm proclaims in the first poem of his collection, “I’m going to keep laughing until something gores me,” and proceeds to startle every page with his scaldingly funny, delightfully reckless linguistic breakdancing.  How We Light is also a deeply moving book, a litany of heartbreaking assertions of what it means to be alive and mortal and surrounded and lonely and joyous and melancholy, at the same time, all the time. Sturm’s “basic guides” to autobiography, history, growing up, friendship, emergency, success, decision making, science, and truth will teach you more about how to be human than any self-help book. The instructions are that there are no instructions: “The pamphlet contains no information / regarding how little a bed can be or what / you are doing with those teacups.” Full of emotion and tenderness (and a kind of controlled anarchy), this is a book that will make the blood rush back into your brain." - Michael Dumanis 

"The enthusiasm for Nick Sturm's "I Feel Yes" made me want to attempt a quasi-epic poem. My publishers should consider themselves warned." - Daniel Handler, editor of The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014 in SFWeekly

"Nick Sturm’s full-length poetry collection How We Light is an interesting foray into the mechanics of grief. At its heart, the majority of the poems concern a failed love affair. They ask questions of how and why we communicate even when that communication fails.  While there are other minor themes replete throughout the volume, none of them surmount the near constant repetition of mouths, lips, faces, throats, and voices united in their inability to do what they were designed for. Referenced in almost every poem, they point to what becomes fetishism over loss, a sort of leitmotif for giving grief language." - Hannah Rodabaugh, review in Pank Magazine

"In Nick Sturm’s latest collection of poetry, How We Light, we awake in a field, strange with knowing. Or maybe we “climb into the machine and spend / two days thinking about lemonade”. This is not your standard conversation. We are not here to sit down feebly and speak in a quiet monotone. There is something much more vibrant at work here, something more avian and endless yes. Because of this, we are indoctrinated into Sturm’s unusual world almost immediately." - Dillon Welch, review in Heavy Feather Review


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Full list of published poetry and poem-films (2011-2019):

Poem of the Llama,” Fanzine. April 2018.

Alyson Hannigan Ordered Me to Be Made,” Brooklyn Rail. April 2017.

Language With Boat,” Tagvverk. September 2015.

“I Feel Yes” The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014. October, 2014.

“The War Between the States,” Big Lucks, April 2014.

“When I am the Most Person” and from “Outside in the Aporia Days” Pinwheel, February 2014.

from “Outside in the Aporia Days” Spoke Too Soon, February 2014.

from “Outside in the Aporia Days” Black Warrior Review, October 2013.

Another DoorPEN American Center, August 2013.

“Runaway Truck Ramp” Phantom Limb, July 2013.

Reading from  How We Light  at Third Turn gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Reading from How We Light at Third Turn gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio.

“Going to Our Heads” Eleven Eleven, July 2013.

“They Brush Against Each Other” and “A Basic Guide to We Are All Going To Die But Not Yet” Clinic, June 2013.

“How We Light” Coconut Magazine, June 2013.

[“I’m not inspired I need a shower”] from “Music for the Northwest Passage” Sprung Formal: The Kansas City Art Institute’s Literary Journal, May 2013.

“At Least There Are Windmills” Columbia Poetry Review, April 2013.

“The Whole Place Was Dark” Inknode, March 2013.

“Lettuce” Sink Review, March 2013.

“Everything Looks Smaller Today,” “Hundreds & Thousands,” “Sporadic Resistance,” and “Sonnet of Powerful Indifference” The New Megaphone, March 2013.

“I Was Not Even Born When You Were Obscure” (collaborative poem with Wendy Xu) Redivider, January 2013.

“Worthy of It” Sixth Finch, January 2013.

“I Keep Forgetting That Everything You Say is Connected” jubilat, January 2013.

Poem fragments and notes, Pocket Notes, December 2012.

“I Was Not Even Born When You Started To Have Answers” and “I Was Not Even Born When You Were Loud and Clear” (collaborative poems with Wendy Xu) Inter|rupture, October 2012.

“Baby Hammer,” “New Love,” and “Commonwealth of Long Blue Flowers” SCUD, October 2012.

Erasure performance for Pocket Tones at the Independent Publishing Resource Center in Portland, OR.

Erasure performance for Pocket Tones at the Independent Publishing Resource Center in Portland, OR.

“A Basic Guide to Emergency” Secret Journal, 2012.

“A Whorl That Ascends” and “The Era of Confusion Begins” Banango Street, August 2012.

“Actuals & Possibles,” “The Roost,” and “Upstairs With His Sandwich” The Bakery, August 2012.

“I Was Not Even Born When You Ate My Mother” and “I Was Not Even Born When You Fell Out of a Vending Machine” (collaborative poems with Wendy Xu) Beecher’s Magazine, July 2012.

“I Was Not Even Born When You Were Doing It All Wrong” and “I Was Not Even Born When You Were Being Born” (collaborative poems with Wendy Xu) Gigantic Sequins, July 2012.

“I Was Not Even Born When You Became An Expert” (collaborative poem with Wendy Xu) Birdfeast Magazine, June 2012.

“I Was Not Even Born When You Needed Help,” “I Was Not Even Born When You Laughed at Everything,” “I Was Not Even Born When You Turned Into a Candy Dish” (collaborative poems with Wendy Xu) Country Music, June 2012.

“I Was Not Even Born When Your Face Was Looking at Mine,” “I Was Not Even Born When You Turned Me Into a Baby,” and “I Was Not Even Born When You Started Paying Great Attention” (collaborative poems with Wendy Xu) Phoebe, May 2012.

“I Was Not Even Born When You Knew My Name” and “I Was Not Even Born When You Asked Me For a Diet Coke” (collaborative poems with Wendy Xu) La Petite Zine, April 2012.

“What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!” 21 Love Poems: A Cassette Anthology from Hell Yes Press, April 2012.

“What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!” and “What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!” InDigest Magazine, April 2012.

“I Was Not Even Born When You Invented Parties,” “I Was Not Even Born When You Covered Me in Leaves,” and “I Was Not Even Born When You Dreamt of Open Water” (collaborative poems with Wendy Xu) Radioactive Moat, March 2012.

Page from erasure project  And Sunshine .

Page from erasure project And Sunshine.

“A Basic Guide to Growing Up” and “A Basic Guide to Decision-Making.” Forklift, Ohio, March 2012.

“I Was Not Even Born When You Invented Maps” (collaborative poem with Wendy Xu) Phantom Limb, February 2012.

“What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!,” “What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!,” and “What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!” Ilk, February 2012.

“What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!” and “What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!” NAP (guest edited by Gregory Sherl), February 2012.

“What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!” Catch Up: Emerging Writers Issue, February 2012.

“What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!” TYPO, February 2012.

“What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!,” “What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!,” and “What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!” iO: A Journal of New American Poetry, February 2012.

“Arrow.” Aesthetix, January 2012.

Six erasures from And Sunshine. Red Lightbulbs, January 2012.

“What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!” and “What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!” Jellyfish, December 2011.

“A Basic Guide to That Thing You Wanted So Badly,” “A Basic Guide to History,” “A Basic Guide to Truth,” and “A Basic Guide to Home Repair.” Stoked, December 2011.

“Quantum Kerfuffle.” Hayden’s Ferry Review, November 2011.

“What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!” H_NGM_N, November 2011.

“What a Tremendous Time We’re Having!” Sixth Finch, October 2011.

“A Basic Guide to Success,” “A Basic Guide to Friendship,” and “A Basic Guide to Science.” Dark Sky Magazine, September 2011.

“Red Car in the Future.” Aesthetix, September 2011.

“A Basic Guide to Autobiography.” Inknode, September 2011.

“The Fences” and three erasures from And Sunshine. Dinosaur Bees, July 2011.

“A Basic Guide to Love,” “A Basic Guide to the Future,” “A Basic Guide to Getting Started,” “A Basic Guide to Vermont,” and “A Basic Guide to Politics.” Red Lightbulbs, April 2011. 


Poem-Films: