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An early review of Ghost Songs: "I freaking LOVED this story. Really and truly. Every so often a really beautiful story like Ghost Songs comes along that is primarily about a gay young man but still does total justice to the other people in his life, especially women.
I once read a blog post that mentioned that fleshed-out female characters can exist in M/M novels but not be a primary focus of the book, and I feel like you just turned that right on its head. I’ve been waiting so long for something like this, I can’t even tell you. I LOVED how you wrote Jennifer and Todd’s relationship, how important it was to both of their development into adults and as fully fledged characters. Neither of them was primarily defined by a romantic interest and instead helped one another grow and come of age.
The same can be said of Todd’s relationship with his mother, Eddie, which was both heartbreaking and moving. I was so touched by Eddie’s process of recovery and how she and her son came to understand each other by the end of the book. There was no stereotyping in this book at all, especially not of the female characters, and I appreciated that on such a fundamental level.
Thank you so much for letting me read this wonderful manuscript! I truly couldn’t put it down and was so excited by how believable and human your characters were. Just lovely. Congratulations on having written such a great book, and I sincerely look forward to reading more from you in future! - Nan"
My debut novel, IF THERE'S A HEAVEN ABOVE (JMS Books, 2013) is now available as an eBook. The print edition will be available on January 31, 2013.
EARLY REVIEWS OF IF THERE'S A HEAVEN ABOVE:
"If There's A Heaven Above" takes the reader on a tour of the Southern California demi-monde goth scene of the mid-1980s, as seen through the eyes of club-kid, Matt. Andrew Demcak combines innocence with experience, sex and drugs, Love and Rockets, with just the right touch of poetry. It is a thrilling ride along the freeways and turntables of that era: when AIDS was new, Reagan was King, and hope was a wounded kitten, cared for by the creatures of the night.
- Eric Norris, author of Nocturnal Omissions: A Tale of Two Poets (Sibling Rivalry Press)
Andrew Demcak's *If There's A Heaven Above* unfurls like an alternate universe John Hughes' movie, with a fabulous soundtrack by Love & Rockets, Siouxsie and The Banshees, This Mortal Coil, and Bauhaus. The story of these young friends navigating love, sex and heartbreak in the LA goth scene of the 80s is brilliantly rendered by Demcak. I read it in one sitting. You will, too.
- Collin Kelley, author of *Conquering Venus* and *Remain In Light.*
LAMBDA LITERARY FOUNDATION:
I'm one of the featured poets
at the Lambda Literary Foundation's website.
NEW! Visit my picture book website:
What Bright Messages
May 21, 2010
Yes, we’ve featured Andrew Demcak’s latest book, A Single Hurt Color, before. But that was before we’d had a copy in our own hands. Now that I’ve turned its last pages, I’m happy to report that Demcak has produced a collection of mesmerizing poetry that warrants another, deeper look.
Collected into three sections — Third Person, Second Person and First Person — the pieces throughout showcase Demcak’s inimitable voice in a variety of formats. Consistent throughout is the poet’s gift for evoking entire scenes in just a few lines:
The open mouth of his hat left on the bed,
Many poems are expert compilations of these scenes, presented without introduction or explanation, to create the narrative of the poem. The flow of the book itself often seems to intimate a plot as well — pieces about the death of loved ones followed by a mournful scene; explorations of addiction followed by a piece titled “Relapse.”
But whatever broader story lies beneath, it never outshines the poetry itself: languid and descriptive sometimes, blunt and cutting at others, but crisp with action from start to finish.
For another peek inside, check out today’s feature on Demcak at Verse Daily .
—Ciara LaVelle, editor
The Furnace Review
A Single Hurt Color (GOSS 183::Casa Menendez Press, 2010),
(cover design by Jenn Melzer, 2010)
Preview/Read it for free at Issuu.com, CLICK LINK BELOW. The printed version is available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Powell's, etc.
Reviews of A Single Hurt Color:
Demcak weaves pop culture references into poems like Trinidad and Duhamel. He has a talent for writing lines that will be remembered long after you place A Single Hurt Color on your shelf. It is a given that Demcak will be remembered; he's a rising star in American poetry.
- Dustin Brookshire, editor Limp Wrist magazine
The poems in A Single Hurt Color take us on winding, asymmetrical paths of loss, love, and grace. Demcak knows when language must be talky and when it must be tight, and, as a result, these poems unfold in an expansive “pageant of tongues.” He revels in sound, in rhythm, in all that makes the world simultaneously wobbly and secure. The present moment comes alive in the residue of the past, whether Demcak is quarreling with Freud on the beach, elegizing Versace, or serenading literary influences such as Zbigniew Herbert, Wallace Stevens, and, of course, Gertrude Stein.
--Tony Trigilio, author, The Lama’s English Lesson
The title of Andrew Demcak’s new book, A Single Hurt Color, is borrowed from the Gertrude Stein poem “A Carafe, That Is a Blind Glass” which very much reminds me of the broken snow globe at the beginning of Orson Welles’ classic "Citizen Kane." Like that film, Demcak renders a view of the world through the filter of a shard, exposing the sharper edges, while at other times opening the reader's eye to a new shade. The poet colors pop culture, politics, nature, science, relationships and reflections, with a piercing command of language, while employing a keenly tuned ear to the music of each word.
--J.P. Dancing Bear, editor, The American Poetry Journal
The prolific Andrew Demcak returns in his third poetry collection, a single hurt color, with his pithy and succinct lyrics, full of agile turns and that crisp music we have come to know and appreciate from him. This time around Demcak organizes his work into three sections that explore our daily grammatical relationships to the world. Indeed, taking a cue from Gertrude Stein with the collection’s title, grammar is the thing that connects us, to the world and to each other. And so you will find Demcak’s consciousness starting broad, touching, holding, studying the objects and things and people of the third person, then narrowing to the more intimate “you” as a myriad of second persons are addressed, ending with the very immediate and singular first person “I” and the stories that make up that identity. While the list of objects and persons, living and dead, that people these poems are too numerous to list, each is chosen carefully for you to consider. You will read and re-read these poems as if it is the first time you’ve encountered the world as the world is refracted back to you through the hue of a “single hurt color,” that lens of a wine-blushed kaleidoscope.
--Matthew Hittinger, author of Narcissus Resists & Pear Slip
Andrew Demcak opens yet more vistas into that seductive world he continues to create in his new book of poems, A Single Hurt Color. And even for the polished practiced linguist he has revealed before, this sturdy volume reaches even higher marks on the rising tide of his young career. Demcak is a wizard with words, a sorcerer and lusty sensualist who is able to paint indelible images that may fly past the reader’s eye as in his haiku settings, or linger in the musky flavors of physical encounters experienced or imagined. He whisks us away on journeys to other times, other places, dabbles with thoughts of Kurt Cobain, Wallace Stevens and Freud, channels Icarus, Samson and Delilah, and Joseph Smith, tinkers with lovesongs to mussels and orchids, and summons some of the most erotic scenes imaginable. Demcak at once entertains, challenges, seduces, and puzzles us with some of the finest new work being birthed today – a poet shaman!
Demcak loads his poems with nouns, the hard actualities of existence, whether literary (Wallace Stevens, Poe), pop cultural (iPhones, Kurt Cobain), or the wider world of meteorite ALH841, New Zealand mussels with their "catholic gills," and Margaret Thatcher. And just as the world presents itself without explanatory guide, so too do many of these poems: "A Single Hurt Color" with its clear images of devastation and estrangement (but whose?), or the sharp objective correlatives of "Go Now Before It Starts Snowing." Others, like "Snapshot" and its cruel fiancé/husband, cleanly and painfully delineate their intent. I do not always know exactly what Demcak is "saying," but one cannot fail to recognize the “meaning” of his poetry in this collection, of family, death and sensuality.
--Cooper Renner, editor elimae magazine
With or without a glossy finish, “dry & flightless,” (from the last poem “Relapse”) Demcak’s pages turn & tilt with ingredients only he could compose. If you're a passenger, riding with Demcak is a most interesting adventure. In A Single Hurt Color, capturing the moment is a success: interiors blend with exteriors, histories become part of the present & doubts turn into beliefs. With a word choice that will caulk any of the reader's missing spots, A Single Hurt Color is bound to shine solidly.
--- J. Michael Wahlgren, editor of Gold Wake Press
Reading from Zero Summer on KKUP 91.5 FM
ABOUT ANDREW DEMCAK:Andrew Demcak is an award-winning poet and novelist whose work has been widely published and anthologized both in print and on-line, and whose books have been most recently featured at The Best American Poetry, Verse Daily, The San Francisco Chronicle, and O&S (Poets & Artists). His first book of poetry, Catching Tigers in Red Weather, was selected by Joan Larkin to win the Three Candles Press Open Book Award. His latest poetry book, A Single Hurt Color, was published by GOSS 183/Casa Menendez Press 2010. Another of his popular titles, Zero Summer, was published by BlazeVOX [Books], NY, 2009. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Lambda Award, Thom Gunn Poetry Award, both the California and Northern California Book Awards, Best of the Web, and others. He has an M. F. A. in English/Creative Writing from St. Mary's College in Moraga, CA , where he studied with Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Michael Palmer, Carol Snow, Frank Bidart, Gary Snyder, Charles Wright, and Sharon Olds. Andrew is also a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, where he studied with Galway Kinnell, Richard Howard, and Lucille Clifton. His poems, including Young Man With iPod (Poetry Midwest, #13), are taught at Ohio State University as part of both its English 110.02 class, "The Genius and the Madman," and in its "American Poetry Since 1945" class. At the age of 23, Andrew published his first chapbook, The Psalms (Big 23 Press), which was favorably reviewed by Dr. Clifton Snider in the Small Press Review (issue 226, vol. 23, no. 11.)
"Andrew Demcak," oil on canvas, 2009 from "The American Poets Series" by Didi Menendez
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Here is a link to the MP3 audio of my reading at Books Inc. in the Castro, SF from Tuesday April 21, 2009
Pink Narcissus (GOSS 183::Casa Menendez Press, 2009), a chapbook. Read by clicking the image below:
Click on the image above to read and hear my new chapbook Pink Narcissus.
National & Local Events:
Knockout Reading Series San Francisco
KALX Berkeley, 90.7FM radio interview
Diesel Books Oakland, Poetry Flash Reading Series
Word Temple Poetry Series
NPR Radio Interview/Reading (Pending)
VH1 PSA Video
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