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.

9.21.2014

Fall Preview


Fall is here (at least weather-wise) in Michigan and for some reason my most productive time of year writing. Yes I'm writing! This year I have been working on several essays and am happy to announce an essay, poem will be published in the 40th Anniversary - Fall 2014 issue (#159) of RFD MAGAZINE! Please consider purchasing a subscription.

My guest BOOKS BY THE BED column will also be published soon in the BEST OF BOOKS BY THE BED 2 anthology.

Looking ahead a few months, I will have new poetry in THE SQUIRE: 365 DAY anthology via Writing Knights Press! 

9.13.2014

"Literary Party" Last Call!

This is your last chance to grab a first edition paperback / eBook copy of my debut poetry collection THE LITERARY PARTY: GROWING UP GAY AND AMISH IN AMERICA (inGroup Press, 2011) which will be going out of print around the end of September as inGroup Press will be going out of business then. After September you will have to hunt for a copy in your local used bookstore! I can either self publish book or begin working on updates for a future edition or both. Haven't decided yet!


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

Amish Guide to PRIDE!

Are you Amish and identify as LGBT? Are you Amish and support LGBT? Are you a family member or friend of LGBT AMISH?

 Consider attending MICHIGAN PRIDE festivities August 23rd for a day of fun and fellowship with LGBT Michiganders, families and allies in solidarity.
All Amish (you too Bishops!) are welcome to attend the festivities and enjoy fellowship and dialogue with friends, neighbors and various religious groups and churches.
We hope the Old Order Amish church and community will one day support and not shun its gay minority!


 RYAN FIELD: GUEST POST: THOUGHTS ABOUT LIFE FROM A GAY AMISH MAN

DER  REGGEBOGE FREINDSCHAFT: BEING GAY AND AMISH

DER REGGEBOGE FREINDSCHAFT: SURVIVING THE SHUNNING

SENSA NOSTRA: THE AMISH CLOSET

PINK MENNOS

BMC 

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


7.26.2014

New Chapters


Dear Readers,

Thank you for the social media connections, messages, e-mails etc. I appreciate you all! I get asked a lot if and when I am writing a memoir. Never say never but the idea of a 'leaving the Amish' memoir bores me at the moment. There are numerous ex Amish memoirs out there and doubtless many more to come. Ditto with Amish reality TV shows. 

ICYMI: THE AMISH CLOSET via SENSA NOSTRA Like, tweet & share!

I will be working on new poetry which means time offline but as always I will update blog with any news when I can. If you are interested in my poetry collections please check out the Books / E-Books Page!
I have been studying queer poetry (by this I mean poetry written by gay / queer poets) and writing new poetry reflecting my own queer reality and experiences. Hope to publish in RFD Magazine in the future.

Support LGBT AMISH!

I am looking forward to new chapters, I try to remember every day is a new beginning and  there is always something to be thankful for!

NEW! ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE (WRITING KNIGHTS PRESS) 

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 café 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

6.19.2014

"Literary" Anniversary

THE LITERARY PARTY

 GAY AND AMISH IN AMERICA #ARTFORFREEDOM

3 Year Anniversary (technically tomorrow but today is #ThrowbackThursday after all).

 EXCERPT: THE BEGINNING

 The black garbed men cluster by the shed
 As the morning sun burns mists away
 The unharnessed horses away are led
 To the barns stuffed with hay
 The men kiss in the Spirit of the Lord
 As Christ once kissed his band
 Across the green a rushing stream
 Serenades the countryland
 Only the brethren greet with a kiss
 I am but a child yet know
 What today I am to miss
 And how far I have to go
 To find redemption at the border
 Of new beginnings and the Old Order.

Available in paperback and e-book!


6.16.2014

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?

11.18.2013

"The Literary Party" Review Round-up





 Beautifully constructed poetry and poignant essays... 
 
Do yourself a favor and get your hands on a copy.  It gives you a unique insight into a person breaking free from a suffocating and restrictive environment to discover who he is and provides a sense of optimism that maybe one day the Amish community will become more enlightened and accepting of LGBT people in their community.

I am not a poetry reader.  I do not seek out sonnets, couplets or prose.  I do not swoon at the mention of Shakespeare or Thomas-and the idea of attending a poetry reading makes me squirm.  I am the seeker of long and tedious novels that take me weeks to slog through.  But today-I am a poetry convert.  James Schwartz has delivered a book so moving, so ‘dead on’ it’s hard to ignore.  His poems unfurl before you like gorgeous flowers you itch to pick.  Interjected three times throughout the book are strong short stories that give deeper insight to what it’s like to grow up gay and Amish.  Yet they read like longer poems.  James Schwartz takes you up the hill of measured language and then gives you a hard push to the bottom.  His poems span a life unknown to most of us, born into a culture that has room for Rumspringa but not for homosexuality.  We follow James as he encounters the usual passionate yens of youth;  sneaking off with a cute boy, getting caught out in a club by other gay youth, to his adult life as an out gay man dabbling in cabaret and drag.  We watch as he flexes the muscles of his identity with a sharp clarifying eye on those around him.
 Scattered throughout the book are photos of a young James and his family.  These photos lead the reader to believe that they are still close, exploding the myth that after an Amish gay youth comes out their family refuses contact with them.  In the book are two moving elegys to his mother and father that are almost hard to get through.
 The book is short and leaves you wanting more.  Eighty-four pages (including a forward and afterward) read easily in a night or two on a Nook for $3.95. Well worth it, since you will return to it again to memorize the pieces that are so smart and pithy you feel compelled to quote them.
 Here is a small part (smacking of Dorothy Parker) that has become one of my favorites from “Midnight”:

 I loathe the hours after dawn.
Before he’s out the door,
Having put on again,
 What he was before.

 Other poems read like chants and raps- to be read at a slam (something the author does).  But they all have one thing in common, a heat of brilliance that is not too bright to stare at, but way too hot to stand next to.

 Fascinating. 

Amazing.


 James Schwartz captures readers with his honest emotions and raw poetic truths.  From heartbreak to comedy, with actual photos throughout the book, this touching collection portrays the struggles of ‘coming out’ in a close-minded environment.   I especially enjoyed the humor AND thought it to be touching that Schwartz dedicated the book in memory of Matthew Shepard.

EDGE REVIEW BY PAUL LANDERMAN

 With apologies to Max Weber and Margaret Mead, any armchair anthropologist or sociologist in North America worthy of cocktail party chatter will be able to explain the propensity of sub-groups and clans and tribes to gather into ever-tighter circles as the onslaught of cultural evolution broaches their sacred world-view. The Mormons did it in their westward trek in the 1840’s, the Quakers, the Mennonites and the Jim Jones Temple folks and of course the Amish as well, all have their stories of hiding from the realities of the then-perceived world and its evils. The difficulty lays in the troubling fringe of each of these groups, how to control, guide, indoctrinate, and sublimate their individual members into compliance with group norms and expectations; Ross Douthat of the New York Times calls it the paranoia of the six-degrees of separation game. 

 "The Literary Party: Growing up Gay and Amish in America" helps us to see into one of these uniquely American groups and the ways in which it builds tight walls of protection around their world-view by destroying the internally unacceptable. James Schwartz shares with us a view point that is at the same time unique, fascinating, real, and also horrifying, as a young gay man growing up in a traditional Amish farm family. His voice, and his story, which we are allowed to glimpse through his poetry, helps us to understand what it may be like for such a cloistered view of the world from the inside out.
 Certainly every such group in American history has similarities, familiar trajectories, and expected time sequences: a coming-of-age story in any other setting, East Los Angeles, for example, or Bedford-Stuyvesant, or Salt Lake City, may stand on similar ground. What helps us appreciate the struggle of Schwartz’ "Literary Party" is the rare insight that is current, fresh, and authentic. I am still upset at Tim Allen and Kirstie Allie for that horrible "For Richer or Poorer" (1997), and I also have to suggest that all of hip-hop and rap combined may not be as authentic as we wish it to be, at least in an anthropological sense. I am still waiting for the Langston Hughes of the twenty-first century, and I am not at all sure that even Martha Beck, with her brilliance, is an authentic Mormon voice either.

 Conversely, Schwartz seems to have made the transition to the mainstream American cultural highway fairly easily: "In this time and at this rate/ the world prefers its assassins str8./ Heros for heteros to relate/ comfort for their grieving mate." Poetry is elastic, no matter which culture upon which it focuses nor from which it may be derived, and as a reader, my experience, world view, politics, religion, sexuality, age, and ethnicity all come to bear upon the machinations of my interpretation of any poetry, and in Schwartz’ work I can reflect on not simply what he meant to say, but what the poetry is saying to me right now and right here. The inferred message is, an Amish gay man can speak to me and we can share some universality of human emotion and cross-cultural meaning, and succeed in making the world a little easier to deal with and a little easier to negotiate.
I am eager to see the maturation of this poet; in "The Pale City" ("From the pale city/ beside the sea/ I traveled once more home/ to the fields in hues of tea") helps us see the future of James Schwartz, an authentic American voice, and that uniquely individual voice as well.
8.11.2011 

 Young poet and slam performer James Schwartz combines smart, passionate, refreshingly unpretentious poetry and short stories in this staggering illustration of his family problems, love, heartbreak, gay nightlife, gay politics, and the lasting effects of his famously intolerant religion and culture. - Brandon Voss
9.20.2011

James Schwartz’s collection of poetry and short stories
about being “gaymish” is emotional, compelling, sometime devastating but always
accessible even to those who don’t care for poetry (read: most Americans). The
ultimate upshot: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America (InGroup Press, $12.95) is probably the only book in
America that’ll tell you what it’s like to take a horse and buggy to a gay
nightclub. — Diane Anderson-Minshall
10.31.2012

An extraordinary collection of poetry. The poems are about love, rejection and awareness. Although these are topics long written about, the poems crafted by Schwartz are very different. They are raw, honest and unpretentious with an underlying struggle to be Amish or understand his childhood faith as an LGBTQ child of God. Each poem is a gem demonstrating spiritual depth and awareness.

THE LITERARY PARTY: GROWING UP GAY AND AMISH IN AMERICA