Harsh Realm: My 1990s

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Flash prose and poems from Daniel Nester on the anxieties and innocence of the decade of grunge and New York’s downtown scene

Harsh Realm: My 1990s, just out from Brooklyn-based Indolent Books, collects poems that center on the decade of fax machines and grunge through the lens of a speaker coming to terms with young adulthood and trying to make their way as a writer in New York City.

The 90s are having a moment. Besides Chuck Klosterman’s bestselling The Nineties: A Book, popular Instagram accounts such as 90sanxiety (2.3 million followers) and 90sartschool (34 thousand followers) capture the visual Zeitgeist of the time. Kevin James Thornton’s comedy storytelling Tik Tok (1.3 million followers) centers on this time told through a vocoder, all with his glorious catchphrase “It was the 90s!”

Excerpts and press

  • Ben Tanzer reviews Harsh Realm: My 1990s in LitReactor: “a terribly moving mixtape journey through that no longer quite so recent decade, the music of the time, heavy metal and punk especially, New York City, another pretty great American City, and Philadelphia, certainly underappreciated, the poetry scene, parenthood, and all of which is presented with an unavoidable darkness if not outright sadness.”
  • “Daniel Nester’s Playlist for His Poetry Collection ‘Harsh Realm’,” at Largehearted Boy.
  • “It’s Raining Spiders in Brazil,” featured on Verse Daily.
  • “Intersections of Style and Intentionality: Retconning the Harsh Realm of the 1990s with Daniel Nester,” an interview with poet and musician Chris Stroffolino on his Thing, October 21, 2022.
  • “I Met Liz Phair Once,” Poems from Daniel Nester’s new 90s collection, Harsh Realm. Appears in Oldster, Sari Botton’s Substack publication. Includes a short introduction to the book as well as three poems: “I met Liz Phair once,” as well as “Künstlerroman, 1996” and “Wednesdays, 1997-1999”
  • Liz Phair read “I met Liz Phair once,” and enjoyed its ‘quality nostalgia’!
  • “The death of college rock: September 5, 1995”; “On Realizing Poison’s ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn’ Has the Same Chords as the Replacements’ ‘Here Comes a Regular’,” Electric Literature’s The Commuter
  • “Poem Written at Pete’s Candy Store Ending with a Line from Madonna”; “Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used to Be”; and “Pompous Symmetry,” American Poetry Review
  • “Lower Broadway Wednesdays, 1997-1999”; “Künstlerroman, 1996,” Tribes, A Gathering of the Tribes
  • “[I can’t even say punk was important, even as it happened,]”; “Hello, Dolly”; “On the Meeting of Frank O’Hara and David Lee Roth”; “Debate Outside Four-Faced Liar, 2003”; “This Is Not a List Poem,” Court Green
  • “to the heckler at my first poetry reading, 1994,” Failbetter
  • “Future Days”“Minutes Overheard from The Vagueness Society Holiday Party,” Matter Monthly
  • “Heavy metal did not die in ’91,” The Daily Drunk
  • “Week One Introductions, 1997,” Rejection Letters
  • “Nineties Catchphrease Cento Sonnet,” Unlost
  • “Gethsemane,” The Good Men Project
  • “Lines composed after being told by a poet I should ‘go out in nature more often and look at chipmunks’”; “Placed into The Abyss: After Pavement’s ‘Cut Your Hair,’” The Daily Drunk
  • “A List of Famous People I Saw in New York City, c. 1994-2001,” The Daily Drunk “The Failed Saratoga Colonic Fable,” Bennington Review
  • “Looks That Kill,” The Hopkins Review
  • “The Art of Prose (With Digressions),” Unbroken
  • “Rig Rundown”; “That Twat with Jazz Hands Won’t Stop Dancing”; “Sentences on The Poem and Other Sentences”; “The Plan Shifted with a Ferocious Snap VI,” Word For/Word
  • “Road House Monologue,” FreezeRay Poetry

About Daniel Nester

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Daniel Nester is the author of Harsh Realm: My 1990s, a poetry and prose poem collection published by Indolent Books in 2022. His previous books include Shader, a memoir; How to Be Inappropriate, a collection of humorous nonfiction; and The Incredible Sestina Anthology, which he edited. He currently edits Pine Hills Review, the literary journal of The College of Saint Rose, where is also a professor of English.

His first two books, God Save My Queen: A Tribute and God Save My Queen II: The Show Must Go On, are hybrid collections on his obsession with the rock band Queen. His third, The History of My World Tonight, is a book of poems. His poems have appeared in such journals as Bennington ReviewThe Hopkins ReviewWord For/WordCourt GreenLove’s Executive Order, Barrelhouse, and other places.

As a journalist and essayist, his work has appeared in a variety of places, such as Salon, New York TimesBuzzfeed, The Atlantic, The American Poetry Review, and the Poetry Foundation website, and anthologized in such collections as Lost and FoundThe Best American Poetry, The Best Creative NonfictionThird Rail: The Poetry of Rock and Roll, and Now Write! Nonfiction.

Before editing Pine Hills Review, he was the editor of the online journals Unpleasant Event Schedule and La Petite Zine and served as senior editor at Painted Bride Quarterly and the associated web editor for sestinas at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

Review Copies

For a print review copy, contact Indolent Press publisher Michael Broder at michael@indolentbooks.com.

Book Details

Harsh Realm: My 1990s
Indolent Press 2022
book design: adam b. bohannon
Book editor: Michael Broder
Published by Indolent Books, an imprint of Indolent Arts Foundation, Inc.
Brooklyn, New York
Paperback: 82 pages
Published: September 1, 2022
ISBN-13: 978-1-945023-28-6
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.20 x 9 inches

Purchase Information

Author’s Store (for signed copies, with a free mix CD)
Indolent Books website