BONK! 139 100 Thousand Poets for Change

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This month’s BONK! performance series will be held on Saturday, September 26th, at 6:00 p.m. We will have twenty local acts performing their own original work surrounding the topic of social change.  

This month’s event will be part of 100 Thousand Poets for Change, a grassroots organization that brings communities together to call for environmental, social, and political change within the framework of peace and sustainability. An event that began primarily with poet organizers, 100 Thousand Poets for Change has grown into an interdisciplinary coalition with year round events which includes musicians, dancers, mimes, painters and photographers from around the world.

BONK! 138 on Zoom

This month’s BONK! performance series will be held on Saturday, August 29th, virtually via the Zoom platform.  BONK! will start at 6:00 p.m. Featured performers include: poets Adedayo Agarau, Travis Tate, and Nikki Wallschlaeger.

The Zoom link is

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Adedayo Agarau’s chapbook, Origin of Names, was selected by Chris Abani and Kwame Dawes for New Generation African Poet (African Poetry Book Fund), 2020. He is a human nutritionist, documentary photographer, and author of two chapbooks, For Boys Who Went & The Arrival of Rain. Adedayo was shortlisted for the Babishai Niwe Poetry Prize in 2018, Runner up of the Sehvage Poetry Prize, 2019. Adedayo is an Assistant Editor at Animal Heart Press, a Contributing Editor for Poetry at Barren Magazine and a Poetry reader at Feral. His works have appeared or are forthcoming on Glass Poetry, Mineral Lit, Ice Floe, Ghost City, Temz, Linden Avenue, Headway Lit, The Shore Poetry, Giallo, and elsewhere. Adedayo was said to have curated and edited the biggest poetry anthology by Nigerian poets, Memento: An Anthology of Contemporary Nigerian Poetry. You can find him on Twitter @adedayo_agarau or 

Travis Tate is a queer, black playwright, poet, and performer from Austin, Texas, who earned an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the Unversity of Texas at Austin. Their debut poetry collection, Maiden, will be published on Vegetarian Alcoholic Press in June 2020. You can find more about them at

Nikki Wallschlaeger’s work has been featured in The Nation, Brick, American Poetry Review, Witness,   Kenyon Review, POETRY, and others. She is the author of the full-length collections Houses (Horseless Press 2015)  and Crawlspace (Bloof 2017) as well as the graphic book I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel (2019) from Bloof Books. She is also the author of an artist book called “Operation USA” through the Baltimore based book arts group Container, a project acquired by Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee. Her third collection, Waterbaby, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2021.

This month’s BONK! was curated by Kelsey Marie Harris. Kelsey Marie Harris is a gardener, artist, poet, and pessimist; in no particular order. She has two chapbooks, “The Jolly Queef” and “Bury Your Horses” as well as a full length poetry book, “Spit (verb) in my mouth” published by Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. She also self published a chapbook, “Sex Wound”. Kelsey is a Bonk! Volunteer, and editor for Really Serious Literature. She is also 2020’s Racine Writer In Residence. Her poetry is fueled by anxiety, self loathing, and chronic over-thinking. She has been published in The Rust Mill, TLDR, Horror Sleaze Trash, Forklift Ohio, and Dreginald.

BONK! 137 on Zoom!

This month’s BONK! performance series will be held on Saturday, July 25th, as a Zoom call.  BONK! will start at 6:00 p.m. Featured performers include: Singer Songwriters Naomi Marie, Ben Mulwana, and Marco Jaimez. 
You can find the link to access this event below, with all the log on information included.
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Naomi Marie is a singer/songwriter born & raised in the changing seasons of Minnesota. Pulling from summer hikes in the north woods, cross-country goodbyes, and restless nights on the road, Naomi Marie narrates intimate stories through poetic, acoustic-led folk songs. 

Ben Mulwana is a Ugandan-born and raised artist based in Wisconsin. Ben released his debut EP last year in June 2019. Playing various shows in the midwest from Chicago to Minneapolis and everywhere in between, Ben’s soulful performance draws in every audience singing songs about love, hate, hope and all other matters of the heart.

Marco Jaimez has been playing music since the tender age of 11. He’s also been playing Bonk! since the tender age of 11 and always appreciates when Nick Demske invites him to be a part of this truly wonderful event. If you’d like to hear some of Marco’s music, you can do so by going to your preferred method of buying or streaming music, and searching either Mexico City is Sinking or Anchors of Empires or Newvices!

BONK! 136 Goes Digital with Still Waters Collective

Over the past 20 years, Still Waters Collective has
influenced more than 14,000 youth, trained dozens of arts practitioners, curated
hundreds of performances and workshops for spoken word and storytelling, and
designed capacity building fellowships for new leaders and seasoned creatives.
“Our very first open mic amounted to five people sharing poems across a bar table,”
says SWC founder, Dasha Kelly Hamilton, who was recently named Poet Laureate for
the City of Milwaukee. “Every initiative since has been about creating space for people
and their stories. Poetry slams, anthologies, workshops and community projects have
all, always, only been tools for building community, capacity and confidences.”
The weekly open mic grew to hold national regard, attracting touring poets and
performers from across the country. SWC revived Milwaukee’s poetry slam community,
reconnecting the city to an international competition and launching local poets and
spoken word performers into national scenes. SWC was invited to create poetry
curricula for elementary classrooms and, then, after school programming for middle and
high schools, earning recognition for Best AfterSchool Programming by the school
district. The signature SWC youth programs were a High School Slam League,
connecting as many as 16 high school teams every season; the Scholastic Writing
Awards of Milwaukee, connecting young scribes to the nation’s oldest arts contest for
teens; the Junior City Slam, in-class residencies to strengthen the muscles for listening
with empathy and the bravery to be heard; and post-secondary leadership training and
professional development through internships and fellowships. Last year, SWC piloted
a professional development fellowship coaching creatives for the fields of cultural
organizing, art intervention strategy and community vitality.

The anniversary celebration will stream live, Wednesday, May 20 from 4am until
Midnight at The Retreat MKE on YouTube and Still Waters Collective on YouTube and
Facebook. The 20 hour tribute will broadcast new programming and archive footage,
and live writing workshops, guest visits and performances, erotic poetry, live DJs sets
and a virtual open mic. Throughout the day, viewers will be asked to make
contributions in $20 increments. Proceeds will be shared between the non-profit and all
of the artists and alumni performing, speaking and teaching throughout the day.
“These first two decades were all about us, the folks who poured ourselves and words
into this incredible container of spirit and curiosity and healing,” says Kelly Hamilton,
who volunteers as the organization lead. “Our next decades will preserve Still Waters
Collective as an institution and a ready network for human and social wellness.”
Founded in 2000, Still Waters Collective, the mission of SWC is to leverage the craft of
creative writing and the art of spoken word to build confidences, capacity and
community. Contributions can be made through PayPal/Still Waters Collective.

COVID-19 and March BONK!

Dear BONK! Family,

In this current health emergency, BONK! wants to help keep you and your family safe and healthy. Given the situation, we have decided to cancel the BONK! event for March. We have plans to co-sponsor the Get Behind the Arts Preview Party for our April event and will keep you posted about that as we go forward. We know that this can be a scary time for you and your loved ones. Feel free to reach out to us via facebook or email. Stay safe and stay healthy.

The BONK! Crew

BONK! 135 – Fifth Annual “Mary Finley and Marcie Eanes Memorial” Black History Month Read-In

The Racine Public Library in collaboration with The Dr. John Bryant Community Center for the Arts, Family Power Music, Coming Together Racine, The Racine Branch NAACP, and the BONK! Performance Series invites you to The Fifth Annual “Mary Finley and Marcie Eanes Memorial Black History Month Read-In”.*  This event will be held in the Adult Services Department of the Racine Public Library, near the east windows, on Wednesday, February 26th from 6 til 8:30 pm.

A Black History Month Read-In is an event where community members of all different backgrounds join together to celebrate the vibrant legacy of black contributions to world literature.  Readers are invited to take 5 minutes to read a piece (or an excerpt of a piece) of writing written by someone from the black diaspora. Audience members will be treated to words of some of the most accomplished minds in human history. All will be sure not only to hear from some well-known favorites but also to learn of some authors you’ve likely never heard of before.

Send any further questions to Nick Demske at or 262-631-0021.

See you there!

*About the name of this event: Mary Finley and Marcie Eanes were two prominent black women residents of Racine who were inspirations both in the Racine community locally, as well as the literary community nationally–Mary as an ambassador and literary agent and Marcie as a writer herself and supporter of the arts.  Mary went to join the elders in 2014 and Marcie’s homegoing was in 2015. Shortly before Marcie had passed away, she was chosen as one of the finalists for the Racine Poet Laureate position. We are honored to be able to celebrate these two women as leaders of both Racine’s Black Community, as well as Racine’s Literary Community.

BONK! 134 @ Racine Public Library

This month, BONK! will be forgoing the traditional performance lineup and instead hold a pot-luck style event at the Racine Public Library at the second floor East windows for the National Day of Racial Healing from 5pm until 7:30pm.

Sharing a meal is one of the most ancient and bonding acts two human beings can do together. Sharing a dish from your specific culture, history or family can even be a more special act.

Join us at the table and break bread together as we gather in observance of National Day of Racial Healing. Feel free to bring a dish to share and if possible a clear list of ingredients for our patrons with specific dietary needs. Free and open to the whole Human Family regardless of race, age or culture.

BONK! 133 @ Hot Shop Glass

This month’s BONK! performance series will be held at Hot Shop Glass, 239 Wisconsin Ave, on Saturday, December 14th, at 6:00 p.m. with doors opening at 5:30. Featured performers will be: Milwaukee poet, Byron Cherry; Chicago poet, Edgar Garcia; and Kenosha Indie Trio, Violet Wilder.

Bryon Cherry is a poet, musician and alchemist. Bryon Cherry exists outside of time so he can precipitate often broken reflections. Bryon Cherry has been published in “Return to the Place of the Gathering Waters” published by Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. Bryon Cherry is the author of a chapbook “Funeral Journey” (The Quail Press) and a full-length “Ruins, Ruminations, and Rituals” (Anarcho Welfare) both published in 2019. Bryon Cherry dwells in Milwaukee, WI.

Edgar Garcia is a poet and scholar of the cultures of the Americas. He is the author of Skins of Columbus: A Dream Ethnography (Fence Books, 2019) and Signs of the Americas: A Poetics of Pictography, Hieroglyphs, and Khipu (University of Chicago Press, 2020); and he co-edited American Literature in the World: An Anthology from Anne Bradstreet to Octavia Butler (Columbia University Press, 2016). He is presently working on two books: one about divination and migration and the other on the Mayan story of creation, the Popol Vuh. He is Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of English at the University of Chicago, where he also teaches in the department of Creative Writing.

Violet Wilder is an indie trio from Kenosha WI comprised of Melissa, Kimberly, & Jayna, three best friends who have a passion for making music together. Formerly known as The Oscilladies (an extension of the 7-piece indie folk group The Oscillators), VW has recently re-branded with a whole new repertoire of original music in the works. A bit about the name Violet Wilder – the trio put a lot of thought into their denomination. Violets happen to be the Wisconsin state flower, and the color violet represents dreams and imagination. “Wilder” means someone off of the beaten path/an adventurous explorer, and Melissa happens to be related to the famous Laura Ingles Wilder (who was also born Wisconsin). Guitar, viola, piano, flute, and mandolin make up the ensemble, and the trio incorporates a mixture of genres. But most importantly, they will sing angelic 3-part harmony to you until your ears fall off.

BONK! 132 @ The Grind Cafe

This month’s BONK! performance series will be held on Saturday, November 2nd, at 7300 Washington Avenue in Mt. Pleasant, BONK! will be at 6:00 p.m. with doors opening at 5:30. Featured performers include: Guggenheim poet, Carmen Giménez Smith; researcher and poet, MC Hyland; and eclectic jazz group, the Curtis Crump Trio.

Carmen Giménez Smith is a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow and the author of a memoir and six poetry collections, including Be Recorder, which was recently longlisted for the National Book Award.She is the co-director for CantoMundo, the publisher of Noemi Press, and, alongside Stephanie Burt, poetry editor of The Nation.

MC Hyland is the author of two full-length books of poems: THE END (Sidebrow 2019) and Neveragainland (Lowbrow Press 2010). She has also published a dozen poetry chapbooks/artist books, most recently Plane Fly At Night from above/ground press and the self-published Five Essays on the Lyric/The Laundry Poem with Anna Gurton-Wachter. She is the founding editor of DoubleCross Press, a poetry micropress, and recently finished a PhD in English at NYU. From her research, she produces scholarly and poetic texts, artists’ books, and public art projects.

Curtis Crump Jr. is a Racine-native musician & composer that performs throughout & beyond the Milwaukee-Madison-Chicago area. Curtis is a graduate of UW-Parkside with a music major (jazz studies concentration). He plays regularly with bands such as the Eddie Butts Band, No SeatBelts, the Kal Bergendahl Project, Grooveline, & others. He‘s currently the music director at ACTS Church in Kenosha under the leadership of Pastor Lawrence Kirby II. With him today are 2 musicians from No Seatbelts, Quentin Farr (keys) & “Dee Cee”(drums). Curtis is releasing his debut album, “Transit”, & it’s expected to be on all streaming platforms on December 20th. There will also be a release/preview show at Kenosha Fusion starting at 7:30pm that night.

BONK! 131 @ OS Projects

This month’s BONK! performance series will be held on Saturday, October 12th, at 601 6th Street in Racine, BONK! will be at 6:00 p.m. with doors opening at 5:30. Featured performers include: Dead Horses vocalist, Sarah Vos; Texas poet and rapper, Jonathan Moody; and French-American writer, Beatrice Szymkowiak.

What may qualify Sarah Vos as a musician and songwriter most is her deep and vivid life-long relationship with music. Born in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan- and singing herself to sleep before she knew how to talk- Sarah was raised in Wisconsin with her four siblings. Raised on Bible hymns and stories, Sarah has been expressing herself through music and song her entire life. In 2010, she helped form folk band, Dead Horses. Since then, Dead Horses have released three records and have performed with the likes of Trampled by Turtles, Mandolin Orange, and most recently, The Who. Tireless touring has proven to be a fulfilling muse for Sarah as she continues to travel, play music, and write new material reflective of herself and everything around her.

Jonathan Moody received his MFA degree from the University of Pittsburgh and has been published in numerous literary journals such as African American Review, The Common, Crab Orchard Review, and Harvard Review Online. He is the author of two poetry collections: The Doomy Poems and Olympic Butter Gold which won the 2014 Cave Canem/Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize.
For the past ten years, Moody has taught English at Pearland High School. Moody lives in Pearland, Texas, with his wife and three sons. He is also a rapper and a music video director who goes by the alias Fluke Ellington. His first single and video “Effervescence” featuring Houston underground rap legend K-Rino is available on YouTube.

Beatrice Szymkowiak is a French-American writer. She graduated with a MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2017. She now teaches English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she is pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing. She is poetry assistant editor at Cream City Review. Her work has appeared in several poetry magazines, including Birds Piled Loosely, the Berkeley Review, the Borderlands Texas Review, OmniVerse, Permafrost magazine, the Portland Review, and Ellipsis. She is also the winner of the 2017 Omnidawn Single Poem Broadside Contest. Exploratory and experimental, her poetry investigates the new environmental trajectory of the Anthropocene. Her first chapbook RED ZONE was released in Fall 2018. It constitutes the first chapter of her investigations.

The event will be held at OS Projects at 601 6th Street in Racine, WI. OS Projects is a contemporary art gallery in downtown Racine featuring visual artists in solo and small group exhibits. The gallery’s primary focus is on artists living and working in the Chicago-Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee urban corridor. While the range of media the gallery presents is broad—encompassing painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, photography, video/film and installation—the exhibited artists are unified in their engagement with topical issues, experimentation with materials and processes, and adherence to craft.

Currently, OS Projects is hosting an exhibit by artist Diane Levesque. Ms. Levesque will be present at the BONK! event and give an introduction to her exhibit at the start of the event. For more information on the artist and the exhibit, visit the OS Projects website.