Born in the middle of the last century, in the geographical middle of the United States , to a recently-off-the-farm and now middle-class family, Nielsen soon exhibited a proclivity for the coastal extremes. Following a family move to the nation ' s capital, Nielsen spent the better part of three decades in the District of Columbia, where he completed his education He also spent a brief stint as a social worker in upstate New York , courtesy of the Selective Service. Following completion of graduate school and a short period teaching at Howard University , Nielsen moved to California , where he held positions at San Jose State University , the University of California in Los Angeles and Loyola Marymount University.
Nielsen was the first winner of the Larry Neal Award for poetry and has to date published five volumes of verse: Heat Strings, Evacuation Routes, Stepping Razor, VEXT and Mixage. His poetry was selected by John Ashbery for the Best American Poems anthology and has also received two Gertrude Stein Awards for innovation. He has presented poetry readings at many venues, including the Folger Shakespeare Library, U.C. Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin , the University of Iowa and the City Council Chambers of the District of Columbia . His first volume of literary criticism, Reading Race, won the SAMLA Studies Prize, a Myers Citation and the Kayden Award for best book in the humanities. Subsequent works of scholarship include Writing between the Lines, C.L.R. James: A Critical Introduction, Black Chant and Integral Music: Languages of African American Innovation, which was the winner of the Josephine Miles Award. Every Goodbye Ain ' t Gone, an anthology of experimental poetry by black American artists was co-edited with Lauri Ramey. Nielsen's edition of DON'T DENY MY NAME: WORDS AND MUSIC AND THE BLACK INTELLECTUAL TRADITION, by Lorenzo Thomas, won an American Book Award.
These days, Nielsen divides his time between Pennsylvania and California, where his wife, Anna Everett, is Professor of Film and Media Studies at U.C. Santa Barbara. He often finds himself flying over the place of his birth, the only somewhat inappropriately named Grand Island, Nebraska.
- Integral Music: Languages of African-American Innovation
- Black Chant: Languages of African-American Postmodernism
- C. L. R. James: A Critical Introduction
- Writing Between the Lines: Race and Intertextuality
- Reading Race: White American Poets and the Racial Discourse in the Twentieth Century
Areas of Specialization
- American Literature After 1900
- Particularly poetry and poetics, the history of American verse, contemporary literature, literature and the other arts
- African American Literature and Language
- African American poetry and poetics, Jazz and literature, early African American writing, theory and criticism, diasporic studies (especially Caribbean and African), critical race studies.
- Modernist Studies
- Theories of modernity and race; Modernist poetry; Latin American literature.
- Contemporary Literature
- especially poetry; literature and the other arts; African American avant gardes; Latin American literature.
- Theory and Cultural Studies
- Post-structuralism; cultural studies; poetics; theories of race and ethnicity; Black theory and criticism.
- Race and Ethnicity Studies
- critical theories of race and ethnicity; comparative US literatures; Latin American literature; have taught African American, Asian American, Native American and Latino literature courses.