I’d Rather Be Called a Nerd by Dominic “Nerd” McDonald

Source: Publisher
Paperback, 66 pgs.
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I’d Rather Be Called a Nerd by Dominic “Nerd” McDonald, winner of the 2022 DC Poet Project, is a memoir in poems exposing what it means to be an academic Black man in America and upend the expectations of the Black community. The collection melds Hip Hop rhythms and poetry to create a unique look at academic life and being a nerd.

The collection opens with the title poem, “I’d Rather Be Called a Nerd,” in which speaks about his grandfather who pushed him to be educated and strive for more than the streets can provide. “My grandfather, rest his soul,/always told me, ‘Whatever’s clever pulls the lever.'” (pg. 1) and “this why niggas hot./They hot cause they lie, spend cash to be fly./Do anything as long as they can get by./But that’s not on my mind not does it define/what I can and will be./” (pg. 2)

McDonald’s passions are evident in every turn of phrase and poem in this collection, wearing his “nerd” title with pride. In his lyrics, he seeks to create change, motivate others, and demonstrate that other paths are available. Some of the most memorable poems for me were “Hungry,” “Pure Potential,” and “To the Bartender.” These demonstrate the ups and downs we face in which we struggle to utilize our potential (that everyone says we have) and feed our own hunger without falling into the expectations of others.

I’d Rather Be Called a Nerd by Dominic “Nerd” McDonald, winner of the 2022 DC Poet Project, is a unique blend of rap, Hip Hop, and poetry, and you can’t help by tap your toes or bop your head.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Dominic “Nerd” McDonald is a Black entrepreneur and spoken word artist from various cities in Los Angeles, California. He has put his views on growing up in the inner city between two households, Hip Hop music, being a social outcast, college experiences, and more, into poetry, screen plays, and magazine articles. His passion comes from serving the community, especially through the arts. By writing from his heart and what he sees and hears, he hopes to be a “change agent” for the unheard. His journey led him to the DC Metro area six year ago, where he spreads influential messages and supports others who walk the same path.

Check out this interview.

Mailbox Monday #710

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has its own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Thank you to Velvet for stepping in when Mailbox Monday needed another host.

Emma, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received for Gaithersburg Book Festival consideration:

I’d Rather Be Called a Nerd by Dominic “Nerd” McDonald from Day Eight Books.

Dominic “Nerd” McDonald, the 2022 DC Poet Project winner, is the author of, I’d Rather Be Called a Nerd, a memoir-in-poems that fearlessly details the author’s intersecting experiences of repression and self-development. The intersecting worlds of hip hop, higher education, and literature combine in this book as an anthem for nerds everywhere.

“McDonald shines brightly and lights the path for those who will walk it next.” – Susan Scheid, author of After Enchantment

Breaking the Blank by Dwayne Lawson-Brown and Rebecca Bishophall from Day Eight Books.

Breaking the Blank is a spirited dialogue between poets—and a meditation on love, parenting, gentrification, money, and the literary life. In accessible free verse, haiku, sonnets, and other forms, Dwayne Lawson-Brown and Rebecca Bishophall honor the African American experience, make sacred the ordinary, and remind the reader of the marvelous in the everyday.

I Rode the Second Wave: A Feminist Memoir by Fran Abrams from the poet.

I Rode the Second Wave: A Feminist Memoir is an autobiographical story told in poetry through the eyes of a woman whose life paralleled the second wave of feminism, a movement that began in the 1960’s and focused on equal opportunities and equal pay for women.

The second wave changed the expectations of women from the homemakers of the 1950’s to career women. The author was a freshman in college in 1962 determined to enter the workforce in a professional position. After completing her graduate degree in 1969, she was rebuffed in job interviews by men who assumed she would leave her job soon after she married and had children. She accepted a job in an office where she was the only professional woman. She married in 1970, had her first child in 1976 and her second in 1984. She worked for 41 years, retiring in 2010.

Placing her story in the context of women’s marches and feminist goals, the author tells how she grew up in a world that expected women to become homemakers and how she combined her desire for a professional career with marriage and motherhood at a time when mothers with careers were just starting to be accepted in our culture.

We by Sarah Freligh from Small Harbor Publishing.

This me-too guide to We takes a deep dive into golf greens, mom & pops, cornfields, & figure salons to rescue the wreck eons of Kingship has wrought on everyone from the school shooter to Cassiopeia & the holy roller girl. Freligh’s voice is fresh & flagrant, tender as it is Olympic, the curse that works its own godspell—& this book broke my heart open.

—Jane Springer, author of Dear Blackbird and Murder Ballad

Slowly/Suddenly by Allison Blevins from Small Harbor Publishing.

“If I can give myself anything, let it be a way into anger,” a reasonable creed for navigating a life continually demanding passivity toward the violence and loss it inflicts. Allison writes the plights of mothers, daughters, lovers and spouses in a voice that endures scars and calluses but refuses to accept them as necessary. “Some unbecomes happen slowly.” This book provides precise detail of ascendance above survival.

Handbook for the Newly Disabled by Allison Blevins from Small Harbor Publishing.

“Allison Blevins’ lyric memoir, Handbook for the Newly Disabled, is a whirlwind of stunning and startling reflections on the body, disability, memory, and motherhood. Nostalgia blends with the present, a self trying to make sense of pain. ‘What is left in my body to confess?’ she asks. Those of us who have lived chronic pain and illness will find ourselves understanding all too well. Those who haven’t will gain new insights into what a disabled life can feel like. ‘All of us will never be something we might have been. You see us smiling in our chairs, leaning on canes in commercials for pills and infusions. To love me, put your legs in ice.’ Spending time immersed in the world of this book helped me, as a disabled person with chronic pain, feel seen and less alone.”

—Alana Saltz, author of The Uncertainty of Light and editor-in-chief of Blanket Sea Press

Handbook for the Newly Disabled is a beautiful lyric memoir of disability: of the dailyness of grief, parenting, queerness, and pain in the setting of navigating illness. Allison Blevins writes gorgeously around, inside, and through illness, welcoming and challenging readers on every page, in every lyric turn.

—Krys Malcom Belc, author of The Natural Mother of the Child

For a very long time we have needed Allison Blevins’ lyric memoir, Handbook for the Newly Disabled. The lyrics are in quintets with titles such as “Brain Fog” and “My Neurologist (Who Doesn’t Have MS) Explains Pain Is Not a Symptom of MS.” For a very long time we have been reading books by physicians instead of books by disabled poets. “This is the chapter about hope. Fuck him,” one line reads. “I’m alive in Missouri,” another line reads. Blevins’ lyric memoir expertly talks back to medical ableism and, more than that, makes self-determination into an art.

—The Cyborg Jillian Weise, author of Cyborg Detective and The Amputee’s Guide to Sex

Ladies’ Abecedary by Arden Levin from Small Harbor Publishing.

An abecedary, or alphabet book, teaches letters, the primary pieces of language and of story-making. In Ladies’ Abecedary, each letter is a woman, each woman is a poem, and each poem is a narrative of female identity. These micro-biographies-in-verse present a series of anonymous characters (historical and mythological, contemporary and composite, unique and universal) in a collection that reveals “the diverse and complex nature of women’s interior and external lives.” Letter by letter, Ladies’ Abecedary “exemplifies the importance of the project to reclaim voice, agency, and equality for women,” and raises a remark about how a woman’s story is told.

What did you receive?