11.12.2014

The Writing Life 5


Are you participating in #NaNoWriMo? November is National Novel Writing Month, normally a month I hibernate and write poetry. This November I'm working on a new essay, capping off a rather productive year. The Literary Party blog has been updated with several older posts (deleted, oops) archived to make room for new posts next year (blogging is horribly time consuming so expect a lull).
I would like to thank the many readers who follow this blog and my social media channels (also time consuming) and promise to put more of an effort into both. This month however is reserved mainly for writing.
I continue to field offers for Amish themed reality shows and documentaries and have (so far) said no to everything to the dismay of all my friends. Reality check: I'm a writer.
 My poetry took a backseat to essay-writing and a short story this year but poetry is a jealous mistress, I hope to bring out a new collection next year! Stay tuned for updates!

"Best of Books by the Bed 2"


BEST OF BOOKS BY THE BED 2 NOW AVAILABLE!

BEDTIME READING (Book review)

11.11.2014

Harold Bloom


I love reading Harold Bloom, I learn so much from him. Having recently delved into Genius again rekindled my enthusiasm for literature.

Open Culture: Harold Bloom

11.05.2014

Being Gay (Today)


Being gay and ex Amish means being told to leave the farm.
Being gay and ex Amish means you are unwanted.
Being gay and ex Amish means going hungry.
Being gay and ex Amish means living wherever you can.
Being gay and ex Amish means ostracism.
Being gay and ex Amish means holidays alone.
Being gay and ex Amish means being told you are damned.
Being gay and ex Amish means being judged and found Less Than.
Being gay and ex Amish means your relationships are mocked.
Being gay and ex Amish means considering suicide.
Being gay and ex Amish means sleeping in your car.
Being gay and ex Amish means being shunned.
Being gay and ex Amish means being martyred.
Being gay and ex Amish today means survival.
Being gay and ex Amish means a lot.

Being gay and ex Amish means the world is new again. 

Please support LGBT Amish! www.LGBTAmish.com

11.02.2014

The Writing Life 4

 
 2014 has been a productive year with the publication of ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE and essays via THE GOOD MEN PROJECT, RFD MAGAZINE 40th Anniversary issue (now online!) and BEST OF BOOKS BY THE BED 2 anthology. I am honored my new short story Amish Road Trip (my first since Gaymish from THE LITERARY PARTY) is forthcoming in a future issue of JONATHAN: A Journal of Gay Fiction!

Do you have a favorite time of year to write? Autumn seems to be my most fruitful season, yes I'm writing (currently new poetry and another essay)! Expect a lull in blogging but will post updates when I can!

10.02.2014

Happy #NationalPoetryDay!


It's #NationalPoetryDay across the pond but poets and poetry readers are celebrating everywhere today. Above is an interesting TED Talk by Stephen Burt. 

9.26.2014

"Literary Party" Update

The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America (inGroup Press, 2011) is now re-published and available in the Kindle store, debuting top ten on the Gay Poetry Bestsellers list and charting at #1 today! Cheers! You can order your copy here.

9.05.2014

The Writing Life 3


  “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
― Alexis de Tocqueville 
 
I enjoy reading writing prompts on lit blogs and they can be helpful: What historical figure inspires you? That's a good prompt! Michigan history is muse for my new topical POETRY24 short on the current Detroit water crisis, A DROP OF WATER, which references French political thinker ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE. Read about his Michigan travels here.

ICYMI: SHUTOFF: DETROIT'S WATER WAR

ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE 

8.31.2014

The Writing Life 2

'10 Books That Stayed With Me'


1. Everything written by Truman Capote but especially his essay and short story collections.

2."Death Comes for the Archbishop" by Willa Cather

3. Short stories - W. Somerset Maugham

4. Complete Oscar Wilde

5. "Genius" by Harold Bloom

6. "Out of Africa" by Isak Dinesen

7. "The Naked Civil Servant" by Quentin Crisp

8. Poetry anthology of John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Byron

9. "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran

10. James Baldwin not sure which books stand out, all of his!

... That is excluding poetry by Hart Crane, Arthur Rimbaud, Cavafy, Elizabeth Bishop, Gertrude Stein, sonnets by William Shakespeare etc.


COMING SOON! Best of Books By the Bed 2

MONROEVILLE WALKING TOUR

8.29.2014

The Writing Life


"The Writing Life" is the first of a series of blog posts dedicated to just that and for the writers and poets that are following this blog. Once you have had a book published your life will change, hopefully for the better. I understand why so many authors like traveling and the animosity of cities. Writers are observers and as Capote famously said "Fame is only good for one thing -- they will cash your check in a small town."

I like small town life in Michigan and by now everyone knows of me or my books. Maybe it's a Michigan thing but despite publicly coming out (which I did years ago but the most important), the provocative poetry, cross-dressing etc. most Michiganders are unfazed. Likely because they are busy working on their own books and art projects. There really are a lot of creative types in the Great Lakes state! Being an author even on the indie LGBT fringes has allowed me to connect with a wide variety of writers, artists in MI. and of course social media.

After I announced my newly single status earlier this year I was both cruised at a local gas station (!) and hit up on FB -- no I'm not on Grindr or any dating site for that matter. The main reason I even have a FB is to keep up with other writers (I prefer Twitter). I rather enjoy the single life and after a 7 year LTR it is probably good for me. I can focus on writing in my free time!

I love reading literary biographies but usually come away wishing the poet or writer had spent more of their life actually writing, especially true in this day and age. I have stated several times in previous posts that it is necessary to unplug now and then and focus on the craft of writing with as little as distraction as possible. It is probably a good idea to let your readers know this beforehand.

I am happy to have five forthcoming projects in the works but this hasn't left much time for a personal life either. My plan is to spend most of next year simply writing and maybe go on a date or two ha ha -- every poet needs a muse.
I will update The Literary Party blog when I can, there is more to come!

8.24.2014

8.07.2014

"Arrival and Departure"


 ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE (Writing Knights Press) collects my poetry 2011 - 2014 and new travel themed work. Occupy protests, Euromaidan, the Middle East conflict: these poems are drawn from global headlines, the Beat poets and my Amish heritage.
Includes selections from FOURPLAY #12 ALPINE SUITE and FOURPLAY #14: POETRY 4 FOOD 2.

EXCERPT #1:  4 AM STORY

EXCERPT #2: COFFEE SOUP 

2 POEM EXCERPT: DIVERSITY RULES MAGAZINE

“On the road and on the prowl, James Schwartz delivers an explosive manifesto of personal liberation and revolution, from the Amish communities of Michigan to Putin’s bloody regime in Russia.” – Walter Beck, poet / freelance journalist

8.05.2014

LGBT Amish @ MI. Pride!

This year will be Michigan history in the making, marking the first time LGBT Amish will be supported at a Pride event by our own Miss Kalamazoo Pride LaDonna Divine! We are sending a strong message that no one will be left behind! #MichiganPride


7.24.2014

Why Topical Poetry Matters

Wars. Revolutions. Global Conflicts. Why I'm Writing Topical Poetry.


I have a new book of poetry out so allow me an obligatory paragraph book plug: Arrival and Departure (Writing Knights Press) is a travel themed poetry chap written 2011-2014 collecting my topical poetry from Poetry24, The New Verse News, Politiku and Nostrovia! Poetry.


Topical poetry includes global dispatches from Euromaidan, the Middle East to America’s Amish heartland and Occupy Wall Street. In this 24 hour news cycle of wars, revolutions and constant conflicts, poets today are writing about current events, like Poetry24 “Where News is the Muse.”

Poetry24 has been reaching around the world to readers and writers of poetry, spreading worthy news stories to everyone. The unique poetry blog publishes news-related poems with a link to the story that inspired them. Since its inception, the blog has published poems from a dozen countries on everything from the Arab Spring to Zanesville Zoo. It crosses borders too – with a Puerto Rican poet writing about Fukushima, a Netherlands-based poet writing about Libya, and a Canadian poet writing about the face of Kate Middleton being found in a jelly bean. Local stories have featured too, like cheese-rolling and a local cafĂ© being forced to change its name.

The New Verse News presents politically progressive poetry on current events and topical issues.

Politiku Trending Political Topics in 17 Syllable Observations.


Books & Shovels is a nonprofit traveling bookstore and publisher. We distribute street books, chapbooks, paintings, graffiti, cds, records, zines, anything that exhibits passion and creativity. We are Passion Activists that believe living is more valuable than just making a living. We mesh grass roots promotions, such as street performing, street art, and D.I.Y. open mics, with opportunities of the 21st century; blogging, internet poetry, and ezines. Backing this project will help broaden the artistic community, promote passionate living, and encourage dreaming. This will make a difference in the lives of all people, not just artists.

 It can be easy to feel depleted by the barrage of tragic headlines but filtered through topical poetry offers new and meaningful perspectives.

6.27.2014

Hart Crane


 Several poets were on my mind / reading list while working on my new collection of topical / travel poetry ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE: namely Whitman, Ginsberg, Kerouac and especially HART CRANE.
I love Crane but he is not an easy read, I'm sure James Franco would agree. One cannot breeze through his work. It also helps to know his biography as he remains a fascinating figure all around. If you have yet to read his poetry do yourself a favor and add him to your summer reads. I recommend the Fordham edition of THE BRIDGE.

NYT: HART CRANE

YOUTUBE: HART CRANE LECTURE   

6.21.2014

"Arrival and Departure" by James Schwartz

NOW AVAILABLE!

AMAZON


“On the road and on the prowl, James Schwartz delivers an explosive manifesto of personal liberation and revolution, from the Amish communities of Michigan to Putin’s bloody regime in Russia.” – Walter Beck, poet / freelance journalist

6.14.2014

5 (More) Amish Longreads




1. NPR: AMISH LEAVE PA.

2. TIMES-REPORTER: YOUNG AMISH SAMPLE DRUGS

3. NPR: AMISH COMMUNITY NOT ANTI-TECH

4. NPR: MEASLES HIT AMISH COMMUNITY

5. SENSA NOSTRA: THE AMISH CLOSET

ALSO SEE:

MARGINAL MENNONITE SOCIETY 

5 AMISH LONGREADS

6.08.2014

Happy PRIDE!

5.13.2014

MI Musings


Michigan is a great place to call home or visit, especially for artists, writers and the literary minded. Having been a Michigander most of my life I can speak from experience. Here is my top ten list for making MI. your next destination!

1. Spring weather, specifically early - mid May. Lovely.

2. Summer weather, this is the Great Lakes state and plenty of rivers around as well!

3. Southern MI. and the US-12 Heritage trail are often overlooked on MI. tourist lists.

4. Small towns here doesn't mean small minded people. Most people are friendly, happy to make small talk and we like our diversity. Michigan Pride and Kalamazoo Pride are big draws.

5. Amish country, find a roadside stand and pick up baked goods and fresh vegetables, fruit. Yes, you can still find Amish roadside stands.

6. The pace of living is slower.

7. Literary Kalamazoo!

8. Since I'm listing seasons, the autumn foliage is stunning and we are a winter wonderland!

9. The U.P!

10. There are many cultural opportunities and events all year long!

Also check out: 50 fun things to do in MI.

Lonely Planet: Things to Do in MI.

4.20.2014

Heritage

The last few years I have done some genealogy research on the Schwartz family. Genealogy research can be dull but I was more interested in the geography aspect. A few heritage highlights:

James > Amos > Samuel > Peter > Johannes Schwartz

Johannes Schwartz was the original Schwartz rebel, immigrating from Switzerland to France to America in May, 1853 for religious freedom. Early Amish were known as Anabaptists, followers of Jacob Ammann.
Johannes Schwartz (b. Nov. 11, 1798 in Canton Bern, Switzerland) married Anna Ramseier (b. May 1, 1804 in Mancenans, Haut Rhin, Alsace, France) on Feb. 20, 1827 in Belfort, France.
Johannes' father Hans Schwartz was born July 14, 1782 in Dampierre, France and died September 7, 1803 in Soyeres, St. Hippolyte, France. Johannes' grandfather was also named Hans and born October, 1756 in St. Hippolyte.
 It is in St. Hippolyte my research grew cold but from what I was able to gather the Schwartz family lived here for generations beforehand.
Via Wikipedia: "St. Hippolyte is the birthplace of the 8th-century saint and abbot, Fulrad, who built a monastery there. Saint-Hippolyte is situated very close to the highly strategic castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg, and for many centuries the conflict centered on possession of the castle had a great influence, mostly destructive, on the history of the town."

PHOTO: ST. HIPPOLYTE VIA WIKIPEDIA
AMISH AMERICA: WHO ARE THE SWISS AMISH?
 
FOURPLAY #12: ALPINE SUITE 

4.09.2014

"4 AM STORY" BY JAMES SCHWARTZ

EXCERPT: FOURPLAY #12: ALPINE SUITE




 In the heart of sleeping cities and skyscrapers,
Undercurrents of travelers traverse every night.

Through fluorescent fixtures and pan-handlers,
Carrying paperbacks and broken hearts.

4 AM layovers, slumping over luggage,
Folded up amid their maps.

YOU ARE HERE

Just passing T
                    H
         R
O
U
G
H

 Got a dollar?
Got time?
Got a 4 AM story?

No time.


So it goes, my friend.

3.17.2014

"Coffee Soup" by James Schwartz

 (A RECIPE  POEM)

Pour mug of freshly brewed coffee into bowl.
Add creamer / sugar to taste.
Saltines optional.
Side of cheddar optional.
Served since my childhood.
 
Amish kitchen optional.

POETRY 4 FOOD 2 AUTHOR PHOTO

For the latest see the Author News Page

All book ordering info on Book Page

3.09.2014

Poetry24: Piano / Peninsula


  POETRY24 SUNDAY REVIEW


Revolutionary piano notes,
Nor
protestors in Kiev.

Can be heard in Crimea,
Georgia repeating.

Breaking sovereign song:
Helicopters on the horizon.

Mr. Piano Extremist:
Play on... 


HUFFPOST: THE PIANO EXTREMIST

VICE NEWS

2.21.2014

Menthol Slim One-Twenty Blues: A Review


 I love WALTER BECK: poet, POLARI writer, LGBT activist. Part Hunter S. Thompson, part rock and rolla in Amish country and all around literary revolutionary. Indiana: be proud. We need him.

 Readers of the AMONG THE LEAVES: QUEER MALE POETS ON THE MIDWESTERN EXPERIENCE anthology will undoubtedly remember his provocative work as well as WRITING KNIGHTS PRESS' readers. I recently spent my birthday catching up with some reading including Beck's new poetry chapbook
 MENTHOL SLIM ONE-TWENTY BLUES.

 Of course it's brilliant and even, at times, funny (Customer Portraits) take on American life and politics loaded with razor sharp observations. America: be proud.

We are forgetting how to live
And slouching towards existence.

he warns in How the Story Ends. I really enjoyed his Old Skin Transformation:

I miss the guys,
The bars, the protests, 
The pickets, the press,
The booze and the action,

.....

I miss this storied past,
Only because it used to be
The present.

This is blue collar life skewered with relish and on the front lines. 

Is it worth it
To watch your world close in? 

He asks in Sales Floor Killing Blues. And in The Register's Shadow, movingly:

Would they believe
That I used to walk tall and proud
In the wilderness?

We Americans cherish our freedom fighters and activist - artists and in these revolutionary days it is good to hear Beck's voice, on the front lines. Where else? Thanks Walter.


Check out more of his work here and here.

1.27.2014

150 Mennonite Leaders Call for Change in Policies Toward Gay Christians

“It’s time the church formally recognizes that whatever consensus once existed around its teaching positions on same-sex relationships is gone,” said Shelly. “The longer we fail to do so, the more the church will stay embroiled in conflict, decrease its relevancy to younger generations, and continue to inflict harm on LGBTQ Christians and itself.”

via Pink Menno
via Mennonite World Review
Marginal Mennonite Society

Way to go Mennonites! Now can someone send a memo to the Amish?