NIC Publishing is excited to announce the release of its first full length title, Nothing Works, Everyone Labors by Lacluster. The book is available in both paperback and e-book formats and is available for sale on Amazon.com.
The book is a collection of poems exploring what it means to live in a city already given up for dead. This Rustbelt adventure investigates nostalgia, hope, fear, love, lust, and progress. It is a dimly lit statement of solidarity with those who fight for an unimaginable future.
“This first poetry book by the author is the culmination of four years of writing around the topic of growing up in Flint at a time of great physical and social change,” CEO Nic Custer said. “This is the first in what NIC Publishing hopes will be a long line of publications from regional authors exploring what it means to be here now.”
Lacluster, also spelled La©luster, is Nic Custer’s pseudonym as a performance poet. The author has produced a series of six handmade chapbooks, which are now out of print. Many of these poems as well as new work is included in this collection.
NIC Publishing is a small publishing house based out of Flint, Michigan that provides editing and publishing services for specifically Rustbelt authors.
Q: How long have you been writing?
I began writing at the age of 16 after unintentionally stumbling into a Writers’ Circle meeting at Pages Bookstore. The group of 30-somethings excitedly asked me what I had brought to share. I had never written and said as much. Disappointed, they asked me to come back next time and bring a poem. So I wrote my first two poems and returned the following week. They were terrible but I found a new passion.
Q: How has the environment affected your verse?
My work is meant to represent the place it is from. So it generally embraces clear, colloquial language that I or people around me might use and is mainly centered around topics I see everyday like blight, arson, demolition, violence or hopelessness.
The poetry, which is generally meant to be performance-based, is influenced by the rhythms of hip hop music and slam poetry. Many of my poems were first used in bar shows around Flint because there are not many poetry venues so their themes or humor is also designed to appeal to traditionally unreceptive audiences. While the subjects are dark there is generally a silver lining to each piece.
Q: What is a prevalent theme in this collection?
One major theme is that of arson and its effects. Flint has seen its fair share of recreational house fires over the last few years and the diversity of perspectives and reasons have always fascinated me. Some of these fires are just for fun, or political statements, others are quick ways to free up valuable scrap metal or even just because of a neighbors frustration with the city’s inaction.
Q: How has collaboration played into the development of this book?
The series of six chapbooks, which contributed to this collection, were originally designed around a concept of collaborative art explorations. Originally, graphic artist Mykey Maker and I developed a series of 7 symbols, referred to as Meta-glyphs. He created seven corresponding images based on seven small pieces of poetry. Then each chapbook was assigned one of these seven glyphs and as a new book was released so was another glyph. Nothing Works, Everyone Labors contains the final glyph in the series and completes the series. I have used local artists to design each one of the chapbooks covers based on including Mykey, who developed the cover of NWEL. Additionally, the middle poem in the collection “A Daydream” was written as a collaborative piece with Mykey, who provided a phrase that it was then based around. The phrase was “armor of falsity.”
Q: How have the poems evolved since being published in chapbook form?
Several of the poems have become shorter, others have changed how they are presented but many of the poems, which perfectly communicated what I wanted to begin with, have stayed the same. The main difference between the poems as presented in the chapbook and in the full length, is that the poem order in NWEL gives each piece a new context to be understood within the whole of the collection.
Q: How has the way the poems are laid out on the page affected the reader’s experience of the piece?
Some are laid out visually, some line breaks are at the natural performance stops where one would take a breath. The poems are generally not contained to one page even if they could be. They are broken up into visually distinct sections within the poem that adds more surprise and discovery to the reader’s experience forcing them to turn the page to find out more. This can help to plant an idea and then deviate within the same poem. There are also many dense phrases in the poetry and the page breaks help to add a pause in between to soak the ideas in.
Q: Where did the book’s title come from?
The title is based on a line from “Most Dangerous Fame,” a poem in the collection. This was the first poem written for this book even though it doesn’t appear until more than half way through the collection. It concerns the cost of survival in this place like Flint with such a low quality of life. Many times down and out places like Detroit or Brooklyn are seen as artists meccas because of their undervalued rents but the reality in a place like Flint is that the opposite tends to be true. People generally speaking pay high utility costs, high taxes, and receive few if any city services in return. At the end of the day, residents have to work extra harder to be noticed or change the world because there is no one there to support them or even take notice.
Q: Upcoming projects?
I am working on a few novellas about young people in Flint, and another poetry collection about contemporary interpretations of classic mythologies from several world cultures.