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!”

Advance praise for Harsh Realm

“All  I’ve  ever  done  is  sing  along,” writes Daniel Nester in Harsh Realm: My 1990s.  Equal parts music ethnography, punk protest, and homage to the New York School, this ingenious collection takes us on a rollicking tour of the “layered decade” of the 90s to present day with poems that refuse nostalgia and ironic detachment to deliver up the real miracle:  an anthem with the power to save. —Virginia Konchan

Daniel Nester’s Harsh Realm is a masterpiece of poetic time travel that lets us breathe differently, breathe into a time that has no beginning or middle or end; time that is an orb of music and emotion and language and heartbeat and that comes out of an unquenchable desire to love. Daniel Nester is working at his highest poetic powers in these poems.—Matthew Lippman, from the foreword

Daniel Nester’s outrageous book, Harsh Realm, is a mixtape of poems weirdly paired with songs of the time, like playing TLC’s “Waterfalls” on repeat while waiting for the results of his first AIDS test. Nester describes with love the shifting trends in 90s music, and exploring that emerging sense of self, part young poser, part earnest observer of the New York City poetry punk scenes. From the fall of the Berlin Wall to an Irish bar in the West Village, Nester details with humor and vulnerability his own emergence into adulthood. Word to your mother.—Tracey Knapp

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