Je Suis Amish Charlie

I spent yesterday being filmed for the forthcoming documentary THE SEAHORSE, discussing LGBT Amish, my 'rumspringa' at the Seahorse Cabaret II and reading poetry. Watch a trailer here and like the FB Page for more! #theseahorsemovie

In November, Squares and Rebels Press releases QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology which includes new poetry by yours truly. You can read new book reviews here and here

I also have a new poetry collection, Je Suis Charlie: queer ex-amish prose & meditations forthcoming (possibly in 2016) from Writing Knights Press... stay tuned!


QDA: A Review

Happy Labor Day from a working poet. I will be blogging forthcoming book reviews and news about my next poetry collection when I can. Next year my readers may be in for a few surprises!

Take a break and check out a new QDA book review!


Amish Longreads

A few recent Amish / LGBT Amish longreads:

The Atlantic: Schisms...

Al Jazeera: Increasing Tensions...

Mennonites Struggle...

WYSO: Ohio's Amish Country...

LGBT Amish: Our Stories

Je Suis Charlie & QDA

My next poetry chapbook Je Suis Charlie: queer ex-amish prose & meditations is forthcoming from Writing Knights Press (details TBA - possibly in 2016) collecting new and recent poetry and prose.

"Je Suis Charlie mixes political and personal meditations, from secular to satirical to sacred."
To obtain an advance copy for review / media queries please e-mail.

ICYMI: I have 4 poems included in QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology (Squares and Rebels Press) edited by Raymond Luczak. Raymond also edited Among the Leaves and Jonathan.

Featuring fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and comics by 48 writers from around the world, QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology proves that intersectionality isn’t just a buzzword.

It’s a penetrating and unforgettable look into the hearts and souls of those defiant enough to explore their own vulnerabilities and demonstrate their own strengths.


Preorder "QDA" Anthology!

Preorder QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology here! Out in November!


Anthology Announcement

Summer is flying by in Michigan "river country" as I'm finishing up my next poetry collection which I hope to see published next year. A quick blog post to announce new poetry forthcoming in QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology (Squares & Rebels Press, November 2015)!

You can purchase my poetry in the previous Squares & Rebels Press anthology Among the Leaves (2012) here.


River Country Ramblings

Summer is beginning in southwest "river country" MI. (a few recent photos below). I will mainly be offline this summer but hope to revive this blog at the end of the year, along with new poetry. At the moment my life consists of work, work, work but looking forward to new projects!
My latest poetry release Arrival and Departure is available via Writing Knights Press and Amazon.

You can also follow me on FB and Twitter.


A Poem by James Schwartz

National Poetry Month continues! Check out my poem Sleeping With Keats via WW2BW!


The Writing Life 9

I have settled on writing a full length collection this year and the poem-a-day challenge for April. When I write I don't spend much time online so expect the usual lull in blogging / social media. Do you have a favorite poetry anthology?
As it's National Poetry Month, check out the acclaimed 2012 compilation Among the Leaves which includes six of my poems and some of my own favorite poets today: Raymond Luczak, Stephen S. Mills and Walter Beck to name just three. An in-depth of the book review below:

"Among the Leaves: Queer Male Poets on the Midwestern Experience" (Squares and Rebels Press)

Goodreads Book Review by T.S.
5 of 5 stars

What does it mean to be a Midwesterner? This is the question Raymond Luczak poses in the foreword. If the collection of poetry included within its 126 pages tell us anything, Among the Leaves indicates the Midwest to be a place where conformity and niceties reign, but where sentiments of feeling trapped, suppressed, and unwelcome are just as prevalent. It is safe and austere, where strong work ethic and the normalcy and simplicity of every day life is celebrated.
When I read and reread these poems, it was the theme of conformity that seemed to stay front and center. Of course, you cannot talk about conformity without thinking about those who resist conforming, those despite feeling trapped or suppressed refuse to be stifled. Certainly, there are foreboding poems that warn us of the dangers of not confirming, such as Scott Wiggerman's "Hate Crime." There are others, though, that seeks out places of sanctuary in the Midwest. In Ahisma Timoteo Bodhrán's "Repatriation," two Native Americans find such a place:

Your're gonna say something to two queer Native boyz in a
Native museum, really?"

It is here in this museum, Bodhrán writes earlier, that it is...

Interesting to think we are protected. Our art and
bodies, for once, protected. People need to go through
security to get to us.

While Bodhrán finds his safe place, there are other who do not. Others for whom life in the Midwest seems hopeless. In Malcolm Stuhlmiller's "Piano Teacher," a piano teacher's "great amber ashtray / already overflowing" and "stinking the whole world / with stale butts" is strangulation. Stuhlmiller vividly captures how the "whole world" consists of the confines of two hopeless lives that are bound to exchange places. The student's future, it seems, is the teacher's present. In "Married," Stuhlmiller refers to being "mummified alive on the North Dakota prairie," a vivid image for the closeted or down low life that an older man, a mortician nonetheless, recommends to a nineteen year old man contemplating the freedom to love openly in the Midwest. In his final poem, Stuhlmiller rocks against conventionality, declaring that he is permitted to hate work, allowed to despite power tools, and concede to being passive-aggressive. Despite these acknowledgments, "Tequila" ends with the observation that he is nonetheless "soberly tethered" to the sour, / dry, scratchy circumstances" of the Midwest.

Where Stuhlmiller leaves off, Wiggerman picks up. Stuhlmiller's permission to "despite power tools" blends well with Wiggerman's "Plays Like a Girl," which hints at the pressure and inability to live up to gender roles and masculinity as defined by the Midwest. It is interesting to contrast Wiggerman's self-deprecating lines "I still flounce like a seal in an empty field, / my arms flapping in the air, / but I'll never catch if you don't let go" with those of George Klawitter's "Toward Valhalla," in which the narrator uses Greek and Roman mythology to recast his own history of clarinet player to that of celebratory high school football athlete. John Medeiros' "Camaraderie at the Super Bowl, 2005" is another football poem that fetes nonconformity. Here, the narrator confesses to never being a Patriots fan, though he's from New England, until he stands next to a man at a Midwestern urinal, "His head bowed in a combination / of shame and curiosity / as one eye moves its way / from his to my penis." The disdain for this man's oppressed curiosity, or perhaps his ability to conform, allows the narrator to, for the first time in his life, boast, "proud & erect, satisfied" to finally "be on the winning team." I found myself wondering if the Midwest is so oppressive, and you come from a place like New England, wouldn't you find it rather hard to root for the "home" team? At some point, place becomes personified and takes on a life of its own. In Madeiros' poem, there is still an element of feeling trapped, bound to the land.

I think James Cihlar's "The Eighth Wonder of the World" best sums up that sentiment of being trapped or stuck. In pleading to be taken to Manhattan, Cihlar declares, "One island is the same as another." The Midwest, in fact, seems very much like an island, at once both welcoming and uninviting. One of my favorite poets in the collection is James Schwartz, whose poems describe his decision to leave the, arguably, seclusive Amish order for the lonely nightlife of the Midwest. In "Bad Behavior," he writes about exchanging the Amish island "for sin and gin and metro charm," describing himself as a "A lonely warrior on my own. / Clubs close, no going home." Jack Fritscher and Christopher Hennessy use the oft described Midwestern winters, in this case a blizzard and an ice storm, respectively, to capture what it means to be isolated in "Transistor Clock Radio (The Snows of 1969)" and "Dreaming Through the Fifth Day Without Power The Great Ice Storm of 1976, Mid-Michigan."

For all the poems that speak of conformity, feeling trapped, being oppressed, suppression of dreams and desires, there are also those that celebrate the Midwest, be it family, the natural environment, or the quirks of the Midwest, even if through the tricky slipknot of memory. In fact, I felt that the end of "Among the Leaves" take on a more hopeful tone.
There's a duality in Hennessy's "Sleeping Bear Dunes" that, despite it's haunting tone, is one of the best tributes to the scenic Great Lakes that I have read. Hennessy's sensually erotic "Strawberries" is also another uplifting piece.
In Raymond Luczak's "Bile," I found a man working through memories of his tough childhood and finally deciding to fight back, even without a gallbladder to create the bile necessary to "to master the recipe of rage." Whether or not there will be a fight is uncertain, but the way "Bile" stacks up against other poems that shatter the shallowness of what it means to be Midwestern nice, such as Brent Goodman's "How'd You Like It If I Called You A Jew?" and "Most of the Time," Walter Beck's "Hoosier Swinging Both Way Blues," or Whittier Strong's "Minnesota/Indiana," certainly is rewarding -- and the sucker punch to the Midwest for which I yearned while turning pages. "The Birch Tree," "Lakewood Cemetery," and "On the Corner of Oak and Spruce" share a theme of reflective longing for things, people, and places, each reading like an oblique homage.

My favorite poem, though, is the last one: "What to Pray For." In his closing poem, Michael Kiesow Moore presents us with a hopeful acknowledgment that, though difficult, we can get "it" right, it being ourselves and the places that are personified based on our behaviors and attitudes. It's the final note on the Midwest in "Among the Leaves" and a hopeful one at that.

So, what does it mean to be a Midwestern, especially if you do not fit in or cannot conform with the larger culture or population? Perhaps being Midwestern just means bearing it. Bearing the harsh winters, not begrudging the false niceties, continuing to fight against conformity, and seeking out your own sanctuaries among oppression, be they patches of strawberries, strong willed aunts, continuing to dream, or museums. If the strong will to survive regardless of the people, culture, places, and seasons is what it means to be a Midwesterner, then the esprit de corps of "Among the Leaves" is summed up best by Walter Beck's closing stanzas in "Hoosier Swinging Both Ways Blues:"

I don't let it get me down,
I don't let it break me;
As long as I have a song to sing,
I'm doing alright.

Congratulations to Raymond Luczak and his team of poets in sharing the songs of survival they sing "Among the Leaves."


Happy #NPM15!


April is National Poetry Month! To celebrate, my poem Sleeping with Keats (from PAGE-A-DAY POETRY ANTHOLOGY 2015) is forthcoming via We Wanted To Be Writers.

You can also now follow me on AEON IDEAS!  


The Writing Life 8

What short story writers inspire you? I could list many but one of my favorites would be
W. Somerset Maugham. I hope to re-read his brilliant stories and travel essays this year.

 "It has been argued that in the short story he reached the pinnacle of his art. These expertly told tales, with their addictive plot twists and vividly drawn characters, are both galvanizing as literature and wonderfully entertaining. In the adventures of his alter ego Ashenden, a writer who (like Maugham himself) turned secret agent in World War I, as well as in stories set in such far-flung locales as South Pacific islands and colonial outposts in Southeast Asia, Maugham brings his characters vividly to life, and their humanity is more convincing for the author’s merciless exposure of their flaws and failures. Whether the chasms of misunderstanding he plumbs are those between colonizers and natives, between a missionary and a prostitute, or between a poetry-writing woman and her uncomprehending husband, Maugham brilliantly displays his irony, his wit, and his genius in the art of storytelling."


Spring Update


Spring is on the way after a seemingly endless Michigan winter! Five years ago I begin The Literary Party blog to promote my Literary Party debut and have accumulated a sizeable collection of poetry, literary posts as well as various LGBT / Amish / LGBT Amish content. A heartfelt thank you to my readers, book reviewers, fellow poets / writers for your support!
Looking back over five years of posts I realize this has certainly been a productive period for me. Since 2011 my poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies, chapbooks and I even found time for several open-mic readings, essays and a short story. Currently I am writing poems exploring the queer Amish identity and hope to have enough material for a Writing Knights collection later this year. (stay tuned).
I was recently honored to receive a shout out from my East / West Symphony muse, the brilliant artist Tareq Sayed Rajab de Montfort! Thank you!

East / West Symphony appears in the recent Writing Knights Press Page-A-Day Poetry Anthology, along with five other new poems. You can purchase a copy via Amazon.

Lastly, my villanelle Northern Skies has been included in the new 2014 Poetry Anthology from Writing Knights Press! 



The Writing Life 7

I'm spending all of my free time this winter writing new poetry, stay tuned!



Project Gutenberg: "The Literary Party"




BOOK EXCERPT: "Page-A-Day Poetry Anthology 2015"

 Sacred Geometry
East / West Symphony 
New Martyrs
Journal Fragment - with photo
Sleeping with Keats
All of his Heart (sonnet)

by James Schwartz

Poets from all over the world (United States, United Kingdom, India, Canada and more) have collaborated to bring the first ever Writing Knights Press Page-A-Day Poetry Anthology. Herein are 365 written and visual depictions of life created by over 40 artists spanning 12 months. These pieces are intended for you to read, absorb, contemplate and share with others.

 This is a perfect addition to your coffee table for morning inspiration or your bedside table to give you something to philosophize in your dreams.




A good feeling knowing that my name was among those Avaaz carried in the Paris Unity Rally Sunday. Proud of my French heritage! Vive la France!


Happy New Year!

 ... a few days early. Thank you to my readers for your encouragement, supporting indie poetry and of course LGBT Amish! 2014 was a great year, I am looking ahead to 2015. I have a forthcoming interview via WRITING KNIGHTS, a poem in Writing Knights' Best of 2014 anthology (scheduled for January) and am working on new poetry.
 Let's make 2015 the best year yet!


2 Poems for Christmas

Happy Holidays to my readers! A two poem ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE book excerpt (Amish Christmas Tree, Coffee Soup) has been published via THE GOOD MEN PROJECT!


2014 Recap

 December is that time we reflect on the closing year and 2014 was a busy one. This year I branched out with Berlin magazine Sensa Nostra, hit the Fire! stage, published several essays, poetry in several Writing Knights Press' releases and a short story in JONATHAN!

Next year I will have a poem in the Best of 2014 Writing Knights Press anthology and am working on new poetry for a future Writing Knights chapbook. A look back...

14 Highlights of 2014:

#NOSOCHI CAMPAIGN Standing up against Russian LGBT Violence


Supporting LGBT Amish with (Miss Kalamazoo Pride 2014) LaDonna Divine at Michigan Pride. PHOTOS 

A collection of topical and travel poetry: ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE (Writing Knights Press). Read book excerpts via DIVERSITY RULES MAGAZINE, PIECEJOURNAL and  RFD MAGAZINE 40th Anniversary issue.

“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

It was great to get a shout out in author Lee Lynch's AMAZON TRAIL column!

BEST OF BOOKS BY THE BED 2 anthology includes my guest post for We Wanted To Be Writers.com.

HARDWOOD: MY PIONEER UPBRINGING AND QUEERING THE OLD ORDER Autobiographical essay via THE GOOD MEN PROJECT. A rather long endeavor with special thanks to BIG TRUTHS for early-draft encouragement.



Closing out the year with six new poems in this must have anthology.

Lastly, thank you readers for keeping up with The Literary Party blog (over 50,000 visitors, headed towards 100,000!) and all your messages on social media. Here's to 2015!


FourPlay #18 - #19: Poetry 4 Food III - Food Drive FourPlay

Released November 22nd, the double Food Drive FourPlay #18 & #19: Poetry 4 Food 3 (via Writing Knights Press) includes my poem A Drop of Water, a response to the Detroit water shut-offs. NOW AVAILABLE!



James Baldwin

It's not a literary party without James Baldwin, one of my all time favorite writers who passed away on this day in 1987. Read James Baldwin!

BRAIN PICKINGS: James Baldwin on the Creative Process and the Artist's Responsibility to Society

BuzzFeed: 25 Powerful Quotes 


New Writing Knights Poetry

I have new poetry included in the fine Writing Knights Press anthology, The Squire: Page-A-Day Poetry Anthology 2015 NOW AVAILABLE! 

Poets from all over the world  (United States, United Kingdom, India, Canada and more) have collaborated to bring the first ever Writing Knights Press Page-A-Day Poetry Anthology.
Herein are 365 written and visual depictions of life created by over 40 artists spanning 12 months. These pieces are intended for you to read, absorb, contemplate and share with others.

By James Schwartz: Sacred Geometry, East / West Symphony, New Martyrs, Journal Fragment with photo, Sleeping with Keats and All of His Heart (sonnet).



The Writing Life 6

Have you seen Ursula K. Le Guin's National Book Awards speech yet? This week on social media poets and writers were discussing little else!


Jonathan 07: "Amish Road Trip"

My new short story Amish Road Trip will be published December 18th in JONATHAN: A Journal of Queer Male Fiction Issue 07 now available for pre-order via SIBLING RIVALRY PRESS!

Features stories by  Mitch Kellaway, Wayne Courtois-Seligman, Jorge Cino, Robert Siek, James Schwartz, Tom Hardin, Jae Christopher, Wes Funk, Reginald T. Jackson, Jerry L. Wheeler, Patrick Pink, and Gregory Gerard. Edited by Raymond Luczak.


Middle East Meets West

Inspired by seeing Amish meeting Arabs here in Michigan (home to both communities) I wrote a short prose piece published via @7x20: a journal of twitter literature! RT!



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"




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


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


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!