Nowak, Mark 1964–

views updated

NOWAK, Mark 1964–


Born December 17, 1964, in Buffalo, NY. Education: Attended Erie Community College; Canisius College, B.A. (cum laude), 1988; Bowling Green State University, M.F.A., 1990.


Office—College of St. Catherine—Minneapolis, Department of Arts and Sciences, 601 25th Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55454. E-mail[email protected].


Writer, poet, editor, educator, and labor activist. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, teaching fellow, 1988-90; Writers & Books Literary Center, poetry workshop teacher, 1990-1991; State University of New York—Brockport, adjunct lecturer, 1991; College of St. Catherine—Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN, assistant professor, 1992-99, associate professor, 1999—; Union of Radical Workers and Writers, founder and codirector, 2003; gives readings from his works. Writer-in-residence positions include Bowling Green Public Schools, 1989-90; White Bear Lake Public School, 1992; NA-WAY-EE: Center School (for Native American students at risk), 1992-94; Stillwater Prison, 2003—United Steelworks of America (USWA), District 11, 2004—. Has served on educational boards and committees and as a mentor in Minneapolis Public Schools.


Fellow, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1994.


(Editor, with Diane Glancy) Visit Teepee Town: Native Writings after the Detours, Coffee House Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1999.

(Editor) Theodore Enslin, Then and Now: Selected Poems, 1943-1993, National Poetry Foundation (Orono, ME), 1999.

Revenants (poetry), Coffee House Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2000.

Shut Up Shut Down: Poems, Coffee House Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.

Work represented in anthologies, including Children of the Cold War: A Scrapbook, Five Fingers Review Press (San Francisco, CA), 1994; Poets of the Great Plains, Pittsburg State University (Pittsburg, KS), 1995; and An Anthology of New (American) Poets, Talisman House Publishers (Jersey City, NJ), 1998. Contributor of poems, articles, and reviews to periodicals, including Berkeley Poetry Review, Talisman: Journal of Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, Northwest Review, Puerto del Sol, Midwest Quarterly, and Chariton Review. Editor, Xcp: Cross-Cultural Poetics, published by the College of St. Catherine—Minneapolis, 1997—.


Mark Nowak is a poet and literary magazine editor whose multidisciplinary works includes publications in anthropology, cultural studies, and photography. His books of poetry include Revenants and Shut Up Shut Down: Poems. In Revenants, Nowak draws from his Polish ancestry, working class background, and youth in Buffalo to present poems about domestic, working-class life. The book also includes photos from his youth and the Buffalo area and a section that features essays, interviews, and ethnographer field notes focusing on the Buffalo Polish community. A Publishers Weekly contributor referred to Revenants as "a striking example of investigative poetics" and wrote that the collection would attract readers curious about "poetry's potential for projecting the self into the self-descriptions of others." Writing in the Chicago Review, Jonathan Stampanado commented that "the poetry is dynamite." In a Library Journal review, Judy Clarence wrote: "Many of these poems contain a freshness and a profundity." Alan Gilbert noted in the Boston Review: "The final section of the book is in many ways its best." Commenting on the author's reflections on the working class community and its essential dissolution, Gilbert also wrote: "This work is much needed at this particular historical moment. In contributing its small, carefully documented part, Revenants deserves to be read large."

In Shut Up Shut Down, Nowak presents five long, experimental poems, once again focusing on the working class. Within his poems he mixes photos, lyrics, and prose as he writes about plant closings and working-class politics and culture within the context of corporate greed, capitalism, and the demise of industrialism in the United States. Writing in Samaratin Review, Danusha V. Goska commented on the author's experimental form and noted that Nowak "chose to emulate electronic music's technique of sampling," adding: "Nowak does so by stringing together a series of very brief excerpts from a variety of sources." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "the result is a provocative narrative of disenfranchisement." Louis McKee, writing in Library Journal, called the poetry collection "a powerful indictment of a system gone unchecked, offering a sad if hopeful portrait of our times."

With Diane Glancy, Nowak also edited Visit Teepee Town: Native Writings after the Detours, a collection of Native American poetry. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that in gathering together the collection, the editors present a "work that goes far beyond a dreary poetics of indignation," adding that the book "has the potential to foster a radical reimagining of Native poetries." Elizabeth Archuleta, writing in World Literature Today, commented that the collection "challenges … stereotypes." She went on to write that it also "challenges preconceived notions about what constitutes 'authentic' American Indian writing and identity, and therein lies its importance."

Nowak also served as editor of Theodore Enslin's collection of poetry called Then and Now: Selected Poems, 1943-1993, which also includes an interview between Nowak and Enslin. Peter O'Leary, writing in the Chicago Review, called Then and Now "an enormously generous book," adding: "Nowak's editing is sharp and the interview that poses as preface is quirky and enjoyable."



American Indian Culture and Research Journal, spring, 2001, Stephanie M. McKenzie, review of Visit Teepee Town: Native Writings after the Detours, p. 199.

Booklist, March 15, 1999, Ray Olson, review of Then and Now: Selected Poems, 1943-93, p. 1274.

Boston Review, summer, 2001, Alan Gilbert, review of Revenants.

Chicago Review, summer-fall, 1999, Peter O'Leary, review of Then and Now, p. 183; summer, 2001, Jonathan Stampanado, "Four Poetry Books & a Masterpiece, "includes review of Revenants, p. 97.

Labor History, August, 2005, Jules Boykoff, review of Shut Up Shut Down: Poems, p. 402.

Library Journal, December, 1998, Eric Bryant, "Xcp: Cross Cultural Poetics," review of magazine edited by author, p. 165; October 15, 2000, Judy Clarence, review of Revenants, p. 75; December 1, 2004, Louis McKee, review of Shut Up Shut Down, p. 122.

Publishers Weekly, May 31, 1999, review of Visit Teepee Town, p. 89; September 25, 2000, review of Revenants, p. 109; September 20, 2004, review of Shut Up Shut Down, p. 59.

Sarmatian Review, April, 2005, Danusha V. Goska, review of Shut Up Shut Down, p. 1134.

World Literature Today, autumn, 2000, Elizabeth Archuleta, review of Visit Teepee Town, p. 902.


Chicago, (November 9, 2006), "Mark Nowak," interview with author.

College of St. Catherine Web site, (November 9, 2006), faculty profile of author.

University of Minnesota Art and Commitment Web site, (November 9, 2006), information on author's career.*

About this article

Nowak, Mark 1964–

Updated About content Print Article