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.

7.20.2014

Diversity Rules Magazine: Schwartz Releases New Book

Diversity Rules Magazine: Schwartz Releases New Book: “Arrival and Departure” Now Available on Amazon.com www.amazon.com/dp/1500243124 James Schwartz, author of “The Literary Party:  Growing Up...

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   

6.25.2014

"Arrival and Departure" EXCERPT


Libya spills across green squares.
Democracy flickers in oily nights.
The country is falling.
Into,
A sunrise lighting,
Infidels and possible vistas.

THE NEW VERSE NEWS

ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE 
A collection of topical and travel poetry by James Schwartz

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

Title Reveal

Finally -- book #2 COMING SOON!

TITLE REVEAL: "Arrival and Departure" (WRITING KNIGHTS PRESS)


A collection of new and selected travel and topical poems (written 2011-2014) including POETRY24 and NEW VERSE NEWS selections on Occupy Wall Street, Euromaidan and Libya.
Several Amish themed poems are included as well as selections from FOURPLAY #12: ALPINE SUITE and FOURPLAY #14: POETRY 4 FOOD 2.
Check back for cover reveal, excerpts and details!

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

 
PHOTO: OBERMUTTEN
 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  

11.01.2013

Amish Memoir-ies

A PHOTO ESSAY

My baby blanket, cap, sweater & booties












 Looking through old photos recently, I decided to share a few favorites. Many Amish forbid all photos but Dad allowed me to have my class photo taken. Nice bowl haircut, James!




































Tourist photo, Washington DC July 4th, 1991






























































 B & W:































9.07.2013

Spasibo


Spasibo by James Schwartz

Dedicated to LGBT Russia



HuffPost: From Russia With Love

9.05.2013

Poetry Party: Calligrams

I am now the happy author of a micro-chap collection of poetry including several calligrams in Writing Knights Press' FourPlay series, Alpine Suite!

Guillaume Apollinaire was an obvious inspiration but there are numerous poets that have written calligrams and concrete poetry including Eugen Gomringer.


Check out fantastic poetry @cerculpoetilor


Look Up At The Sky: Calligrams


FourPlay #12: Alpine Suite

EXCERPT:
 














8.29.2013