By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published May 23, 2015 at 9:08 AM

Nick Ramsey is the poet laureate of Racine. Yes, Racine has a poet laureate, and Ramsey was nominated and later appointed to the two-year position in October 2013.

The position pays a $500 stipend. "They also help you create a chapbook of your work," says Ramsey.

Ramsey, also a musician, recently published his first chapbook, "Rhymes & Rambles," through Left of the Lake Press. The collection features 21 poems about his upbringing in Racine.

Wilson’s Coffee & Tea in Racine will host a reading and book signing by Ramsey on Saturday, May 30 from 9 a.m. to noon.

The Kenosha / Racine Poets Laureate Program is currently accepting applications for the next laureate in each city. recently checked in with Ramsey about Racine, music and, yes, poetry. What is your background in poetry?

Nick Ramsey: I started my experimentation with words around the age of 15 through freestyle rap. I learned from watching my older cousin and his friends go at it. Once I started I couldn't stop. We would literally spend hours cyphering in cars and at house parties. I was basically addicted.

Then at 21, I was challenged to write and I've been doing it ever since. I'm 31 right now, so half of my life has been dedicated to language in one form or another. I've had no formal training in college, but I am a part of a weekly writer's group in Racine which has taught me a lot about the world of writing.

OMC: Where is your work published?

NR: I haven't actively submitted anything as of yet. It's an interesting thing. I don't really have the drive to do so at this time, but I've been thinking about it more and more. Some of my work has been used in the Racine Literacy Council's and Left of the Lake Magazine's publications. I've also done commissioned work for HALO (Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization), River Bend Nature Center, Eco-Justice Center, a Racine City Council meeting and a few others.

OMC: Tell me more about your musical endeavors.

NR: Like I mentioned earlier, I rap. I've written at least a couple dozen songs and recorded about half of them. My forthcoming double-disc CD, "Nick or Nicholas," will be released late next month. We have a four-piece band, Nick Ramsey and the Family, that has been gigging for about two solid years in Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee. I also mess around with a few instruments including trombone, trumpet, harmonica, drums and piano.

OMC: Have you lived in Racine your entire life?

NR: I was born and raised in Racine. I moved to Milwaukee for about five years, but now I'm back where I started. I love Racine with all of my being and I'm very proud to call it my home.

OMC: In your opinion, is poetry increasing or decreasing in popularity and why do you think this?

NR: I feel like poetry is increasing in popularity. I can confidently say that it is in Racine. This is at least in part due to our communities having active proponents of poetry. There are more and more open mics being started, book stores and galleries that are making poetry part of their events, and the spoken word form of poetry speaks to a different target audience. As long as we have these people promoting the beauty of language, we'll be good!

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.