Nikita Nelin

Story Weaver



Immersive Journalism...

Bio in the 3rd-person:

Nikita Nelin was born in Moscow, Russia and immigrated to the U.S in 1989. He has lived in Austria and Italy, and has traveled the U.S extensively. He received the 2010 Sean O’Faolain prize for short fiction, the 2011 Summer Literary Seminars prize for nonfiction, and the 2019 Dogwood Literary Prize in Nonfiction, as well as being chosen as a finalist for the 2017 Restless Books Immigrant prize and the 2018 Dzanc Books prize. His work has appeared in Southword Journal, Catamaran Literary Reader, Tablet Magazine, Joyland Magazine, Elephant Journal, Mission at Tenth, Electric Literature, and other publications. Nikita has conducted research through the Harriman Institute as well as translation through Yale Press, and has written on the convergence between fringe and at-large cultural trends for the Hannah Arendt Center. He holds an MFA in fiction from Brooklyn College, is a 2019 Associate Fellow at The Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and the Humanities, and is a member of the Southern Experience Collective.

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"Building From Agreements: The Vision at Standing Rock" Matador Network: 

"We are a rare nation of divided groups, uniting for a time but almost always, ultimately, slipping back to the conditions of our divisions. No political movement has ever really been able to transcend this condition. But this is the potential of Standing Rock, that it can show us something else, a way to unite across a set of inalienable agreements."

"Soldiers" Cosmonauts Avenue:

"Spray, scrub, rinse, repeat, the soldier stood there, useless and only obstructing my path, wordless, motionless, like a statue tempting me to wake up. Only his eyes followed me, only his eyes challenged me to name this disaster, and we, the lost boys of that decade, we were all laughing."

"Amerikana Dreaming" Joyland Magazine:

"One day we were gypsies, and the next we were kings. We were vagrants and lust-givers, catatonic, exuberant, strung out, unhurried, and even optimistic. We thought we would celebrate each other forever..." 


"The Changing of (A) Dream."  Elephant Journal:

"We need sustainable products, and sustainable is holistic not in the way that some fearful greedy man on the monopoly board with money and power has absconded with the dictionary to make you see new-age, and hippy, and wistful, but rather in a rigorous conscious way where ‘sustainable’ creates culture, considers the earth and our place here, localizes, reaches out, is intention followed by action, not in your neighbors sandbox but in your own."


"Eddie" Winner of the 2010 Sean O'Faolain international prize for short fiction. Southword Journal:

"Eddie walks with his left foot dragging behind because there was once a hole in his thigh and a stringy patch of muscle has remained deformed. And because there are stipulations, Eddie has to tel Cabriela when he goes off duty. And because the avenue is almost empty, because it is dark, because it is late fall, because his hands are pocketed in his jacket, Eddie feels quiet, Eddie does not want to rush, Eddie counts his steps..."


 "Southwest Passage" Winner of the 2011 Summer Literary Seminars Non-Fiction Prize. Tablet Mag. Can also be found in its extended version on 97pennies For My Mind, under the title "The Most Current History of the Russian Jew""  

"Russian people are a gift. God gave them to the world to confuse everybody, like a bird with gills, or post-modernism..."


"A True Tale of Disappearances" Defunct Mag. Can also be found in extended form on 97pennies:

"At night she rechecks everything: Train tickets, pocket maps, the envelope with the currencies of four nations, birth papers with the Jew stamp in red, parchment documents freshly inked with orders of release. She has an impulse to iron it all, to firm-out the sheet corners, to give it a starched perfection, maybe a tangible sureness, a paper cut -- but she doesn’t. She stands on the balcony, listens for the memory of fireworks and friend-speak, waits for the sun to come out, tallies the list once again -- what was lost, what has disappeared, what was forgotten. This is her life ever since she signed over her party card and denounced the past..."


 "Living on the Cusp of Fully Being." Rebelle Society:

"It began in poetry, it began in darkness… In poverty, in immigration… In a cave, in 3D, It began with every story, It began with a myth unraveling, It began with losing… "


"Water and Desert: Perspectives in Education. " Hannah Arendt Center:

"The choice, for so many students today, is simply in how to most skillfully compartmentalize themselves and their lives in the face of the anxieties of their immediate world. The choice for many young teachers, facing their own set of related anxieties, is in how far are they willing step away from the ideal of learning-living-teaching integration model -- so easy is it today as an educator to simply become disenchanted, frustrated and aloof. Sometimes, “thinking” is the process of choosing what to keep and what to give away..."

"The Brain Activity Map." Hannah Arendt Center

"Ultimately the fear is of what we are losing in the race to understand ourselves through science and technology, of what we leave behind. I do not mean to gesture towards a conservative approach on science. Rather, I am fascinated by the anxiety that accompanies the prospect, and propose that our fear is that of isolated parties traveling at quite different speeds. We can investigate the self intrusively or/and reflectively. Reflectively, we evaluate and discuss our culture, ethics, the relationship of groups and individuals to one another, we pause and contemplate the grace of being. Intrusively we probe into the elemental makeup of ourselves and the world we inhabit. As one practice outpaces the other, something feels askew, as if a key organ in the symphony of being human is muting in the distance..."


 "Lets Talk About Power." Hannah Arendt Center:

"For thirty four minutes the power in the Superdome was out. The images of the players stretching on the field were an odd, ironic, peculiar, haunting flashback to the Fall of 2005, when the turf of the Superdome became the staging ground of a mismanaged relief effort, and another reality TV show for so many around the county watching it on television..."

"To the Place of Definitions." Gonzo Without the Shotgun at Burning Man part I. Hannah Arendt Center:  

"That’s how I arrive. Whether it is a New York apartment, a Bayou shotgun house, a tent in upstate New York, or a dusty trailer in the Nevada desert, I first, half unconscious, have to try to tear my way out before I can understand the new geography of home. You may find this odd but in a sense we all do this. We grapple, be it by will, intellect, or some approximation with the divine, to define the dimensions of here, of home..."

"Destructive Criticism." Gonzo Without the Shotgun at Burning Man part II. Hannah Arendt Center:

"Our society is failing. The theory of our being has broken down. We are approaching the state of chaos, an opportunity for building something. Not entirely doing away with, but regrouping on what we have, and setting about with a new intention. Mocking, belittling, only affirms fear -- it creates the enemy, and it silences..."


"Playafied: From Ritual to Ceremony." Gonzo Without the Shotgun part III. Hannah Arendt Center:  

"We have passed to the end of the existential age. Someone declared God to be dead. Science, with all its promise and discovery, has too failed in filling in the shapes of existence. Consumerism, the god of the 20th century, has also, ultimately, failed to provide us with the kind of purpose that leads to a greater belonging, or safety. The internet age, having initially promised to connect us, is now making us even more isolated. The onus is placed on us. On the individual. In this age of the spectator (internet, TV, emotional removal from the immediacy of our world) we are left to create a ceremony of our existence, to question our rituals, to define the space of our community, and our coordinates within it -- to become participants."


"if." Hannah Arendt Center

"Consciousness is the expanding of space into which one can resonate. To learn of the world around us, to acknowledge it, to consider its multiple dimensions, is to become more conscious -- to create space into which we can move by the will of our imagination and invention..."

"Brief Interviews With Non-American Men." Interview with Simon Van Booy. Electric Literature :

"Some hated it while others fell in love, but there was little ambivalence — ambivalence is the enemy of experience, the worst reaction one can have to the creation of something. No, we reacted, we were awake again..."


"Irish Time: Diary of a Young Writer at the Frank O'Connor Short Story Festival." Electric Literature: 

"Each writer had a story of life’s compromise, and a private moment choosing to write. I know we are often told that writing is not a choice but a habit or addiction. Nevertheless, I have the impression that each writer, in the most private moment, ultimately does face a choice: to follow craft or, instead, to follow common sense..."



"Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels."