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#FridayReads: Poet Shares What Life In Flint Is Really Like In Latest Book – Nothing Works, Everyone Labors

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Author & Poet – Nic Custer

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.

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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.

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#ImSoFlint Takes Over Social Media: Get all updates here!

Flint is the largest city and county seat of Genesee County in the State of Michigan. It is located along the Flint River, 66 miles (106 km) northwest of Detroit. According to the 2010 census, Flint has a population of 102,434, making it the seventh largest city in Michigan.

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#ImSoFlint on Twitter

#ImSoFlint on Facebook

A series of tweets by Facebook and Twitter users took over social media this week where those of us who grew up in Flint and are still living there, or in the area, proclaimed our Flint Pride, fond memories and funny stories with the rest of the world. Or anyone that cared

I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. I currently live right outside of Flint, or shall I say, down the street from Flint in Burton. I work and sometimes play in Flint. I also have a section of this network devoted of Flint (Flint Positive Spotlight). So, I am definitely So Flint!

However, like most things on social media, it is playing out (see getting on my nerves) quickly. But, I won’t complain too much. Flint is usually in the media for negative reasons so I’m happy to join the crowd. It’s fun. And, other than love we all need more fun.

What Makes YOU So Flint?

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tam holding life book

Dangerous Lee Interviews TaMara Campbell – Author of L.I.F.E. Live Inspired! Feel Empowered!

LIFE Front Book Cover

You got out of an unhappy marriage that came with many perks. What was the ultimate deal breaker in that relationship?

Whew! (LOL) looking back, there we’re so many deal breakers but like so many young girls, I was hopeful! Hopeful that marriage would change me, change him and change us as a couple. Marriage was supposed to just somehow magically fix everything that was wrong. In addition, being brought up in a Christian home, divorce was no, no! So there was definitely an internal struggle of going against my beliefs, society’s messages of being married to your Prince Charming and living happily ever after and then there was reality. And ultimately, I lost myself and was on the verge of destruction. But there were two major situations that resulted in my decision to finally leave: 1) I had shrunk into a former shell of myself. I had been reduced to nothing and I didn’t even realize who I was anymore. It was disgustingly heart wrenching to look in the mirror and hate what you have become. 2) I discovered he was cheating again so I asked him about it. Of course he denied it. So then of course I presented him with the evidence. He got so upset that he pushed me into the wall; I hit my head and blacked out. Let me tell you it’s a scary feeling to come to with someone standing over you yelling and cursing at you. But the one thing about all of it is that I never told him that I was going to leave until I had and plan and was absolutely sure I had enough courage and strength to make it on my own and never go back.

What inspired you to write L.I.F.E. Live Inspired! Feel Empowered!?

My story! And the stories of so many other women who believed that they are trapped and that there is no way out of an unhappy and unhealthy relationship. God did not take me on this journey to keep it to myself. I had to go and grow through it so that I could be a resource, a tool to other women so that they would know that they too, could find the strength and courage to leave. I also wrote it for that little girl growing up so that she could know how not to get into an unhealthy relationship and if by chance she did, she’d be able to utilize the tools and activities in Live Inspired Feel Empowered to find her way out. I wrote it for the person that’s lost and looking for a way to find themselves. It’s an olive branch, it’s hope, it’s inspiration for LIFE!

What will women gain from reading L.I.F.E. Live Inspired! Feel Empowered!?

Throughout the pages of Live Inspired Feel Empowered, you can expect to find yourself, your passion and your Purpose! You will laugh, cry, scream and shout praises as you turn the pages of this book. But most importantly, you will find a healing and you will find peace. You will learn to live L.I.F.E.!   When you find it difficult to read some of the pages in the book, I encourage you not to give up but to push to your breakthrough. No one ever said that growth was instant or easy because if it were, we would all be where we want to be and who we want to be. It takes time, effort and work! “Faith+Action+Movement =The life you so desire,” (the Empowered Consciousness Paradigm from Live Inspired Feel Empowered.) So be patient and loving with yourself and the process.

Can men also relate to the material within the book?

Oh Absolutely! Contrary to what we’ve been taught, men and women are not that different. We both experience all the same emotions but we just may express them differently because that’s how we’ve been conditioned by society. But are the core of it all, we are all human and we all experience hurt, pain and challenges. So all the tools and activities offered in Live Inspired Feel Empowered are definitely useful to men. In fact, a few men have already read the book and said that it actually really helped them to not only understand some things about themselves but their female partner as well. So perhaps the second edition of Live Inspired Feel Empowered will be gender neutral! J

Happy is something that we’re all reaching for. How have you become one of the happiest women in the world?

(LOL) I have become one of the happiest women in the world because I have learned to Live Inspired and Feel Empowered! I know who I am! I have fully come to love, celebrate, cherish and embrace ALL that I am, without regrets or apologies! I am living my LIFE authentically within my Purpose and Passion. Within that there is an unparallelled level of peace, love, Grace and Mercy that is so profoundly powerful!

What’s next for you?

What’s next for me?! Great question! I will be finishing up my Master of Social Work degree and Doctorate of Education in Human Sexuality in December 2013. And I’m sure somewhere inside of me there are a few books waiting to present themselves to the world! (LOL) I also am in the process of writing a producing a short documentary of Black women and sexuality as part of my Doctorate program, so that should be out soon as well! I’m trying to a movement of empowered women that are going to change this world! At the end of the day, I just want to leave a lasting legacy of empowerment, love, joy, peace and sex positive messages that will transcend time!

Where can we purchase your book and find out more about you?

Live Inspired Feel Empowered is available from the following locations: www.tamararosecampbell.com, www.bn.com, www.amazon.com,  Pages Bookstore in Flint, MI and Nubian Bookstore in Southlake Mall, Atlanta, GA. Please continue to check www.tamararosecampbell.com as more locations will be added soon.

DANGERMASLOGO

365 Days of Dangermas: Sex, Love & Laughter – I Shot The Pilot!

DANGERMASLOGOJune 1, 2013:

I filmed the pilot episode of Sex, Love & Laughter today and I am very glad it’s over! I am very critical of myself, so being on camera is a challenge. I also hate learning dialogue and the fact that I’ve been running sentences in my mind over and over and over all week in an attempt to memorize them and deliver them with my own spin took its toll on me. However, I rarely had to do more than three takes during filming and the entire crew, including those who I interviewed, were very sweet and accommodating.

I’ve faced another fear/challenge and I came out on the winning end. If the series gets picked up I will be hosting very often, so I guess I better keep on Keeping it Dangerous 😉 Wish us luck!

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The Sex, Love & Laughter stage!

  • 365 Days of Dangermas: Day 128 – Pumping The Brakes (dangerouslee.biz)
  • 365 Days of Dangermas: Day 126 – No Head Wraps For Me (dangerouslee.biz)
  • 365 Days of Dangermas: Day 122 – I Scream For Ice Cream! (dangerouslee.biz)
  • 365 Days of Dangermas: Day 121 – Alcohol By Fed Ex (dangerouslee.biz)
  • 365 Days of Dangermas: Day 120 – I Baked a Casserole (dangerouslee.biz)
DANGERMASLOGO

365 Days of Dangermas: Day 88 – Who The Hell Has Been Walking On My Car?

DANGERMASLOGODay 88 – March 29, 2012:

Highlights of the Day

  • It appears that someone or more than one person has taken it upon themselves to walk on the hood and top of my damn car! When did this become the next big thing? I taped a note on my windshield saying, “Stay Off Car!!!” with an image of a foot on it. We’ll see if I have more shoe prints on my car tomorrow.
  • I started cooking in the slow cooker again. I threw some ribs in there today with a special sauce. I wasn’t very impressed. I cooked some beef stew a couple of days ago that was also blah. Apparently, I can’t cook!
  • I’m home alone on a Friday, but that’s typical. However, I like being alone. I am getting lots of things done! I could go out to a movie or something, but I don’t feel like it. Maybe tomorrow…
  • I learned about another type of sexuality called demisexual and I think it fits under the asexual umbrella. I fit the bill of demisexual almost to the tee, except I do experience primary sexual attraction (attracted to a person’s looks, clothes, or personality), and demisexuals are said to not be sexually attracted to anyone of any gender which I can totally relate to as well, but when I am sexually attracted to someone they are male. You know, it’s weird that we feel the need to always label ourselves and put ourselves in boxes. I have always identified as heterosexual, but after learning what I learned today I don’t think I can identify as such anymore. For a while now I’ve felt odd because I rarely meet men that I am attracted to and that I am only able to really enjoy sex when I am in a meaningful relationship with someone that I am also very physically attracted to. That’s why I love to learn. Knowledge really is power and let’s you know that you’re not all that unique!

Nothing for the Dangermas tree. I think Dangermas has officially become a platform for me to write and much less about decorating the tree. I feel bad. Hopefully something for the tree cathes my eye over the weekend. Have a Dangerous Easter Holiday weekend 😉

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If you’d like to donate items to the Dangermas tree, please view our wishlist for ideas, or you can send ornaments or other light weight items to:

Dangerous Lee

PO Box 7317

Flint, MI 48507

  • 365 Days of Dangermas: Day 85 – Adventures in Check Fraud (dangerouslee.biz)
  • 365 Days of Dangermas: Day 86 – The Broken Couch Blues (dangerouslee.biz)
  • 365 Days of Dangermas: Day 87 – Fried Catfish Dinner (dangerouslee.biz)
DANGERMASLOGO

365 Days of Dangermas: Day 80

DANGERMASLOGODay 80 – March 21, 2013:

Today was a good day. I tested three people for HIV and all were negative and I spent quality time with my mom and daughter. I am so proud of my daughter, Senia, she is so smart and enthusiastic about learning. Her school had a science fair today and her group created an experiment to find out if carrots, potatoes, or lettuce will produce the most methane gas when rotten. The potatoes have it! It was very impressive! Senia also reminded me that my cell phone can take pictures (since my iPod camera is dead :() What a smart girl!

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If you’d like to donate items to the Dangermas tree, please view our wishlist for ideas, or you can send ornaments or other light weight items to:

Dangerous Lee

PO Box 7317

Flint, MI 48507

  • 365 Days of Dangermas: Day 70 (dangerouslee.biz)
  • 365 Days of Dangermas: Day 77 (dangerouslee.biz)
  • 365 Days of Dangermas: Day 78 (dangerouslee.biz)
  • 365 Days of Dangermas: Day 79 (dangerouslee.biz)
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