Chicago Review of Books: "Sweeter Voices Still" Review

Chicago Review of Books reviews Sweeter Voices Still: An LGBTQ Anthology from Middle AmericaA Midwestern LGBTQIA+ Book a Day for Pride Month! There will also be a Pride Month virtual reading from the anthology June 23, which you can register for here!  

Good Cop/Bad Cop

 


The anthology from FlowerSong Press, GOOD COP/BAD COP is now available (includes poetry by yours truly)! Thank you FlowerSong Press for giving me a voice in this space for justice! 

"GOOD COP/BAD COP" ANTHOLOGY AUTHORS: 

TEZOZOMOC * JERRY ROBLEDO * CHUCK TAYLOR * MILTON JORDAN * MICHAEL ROTHENBERG * LINDA M. CRATE * EMILY SHEARER * ERNIE BRILL * MARK ANDREW HEATHCOTE * GERARD SARNAT * DAVID SALNER * JACK E LORTS * STALINA EMMANUELLE VILLAREAL * BRANDON NISBET * JOHN C KRIEG * BOB McNEIL * JEFF CANNON * RYAN HAVELY * VANESSA CARAVEO * BRANDON JACKSON * CHRISTIAN GARDUNO * GABRIEL GONZÁLEZ NÚÑEZ * DAVE RENDLE * CRYSTAL GARCIA * KAREN CLINE-TARDIFF * NDABA SIBANDA * CONNOR ORRICO * EL DAVID * DANIEL GARCÍA ORDAZ * NANCY SHIFFRIN * MARK ESPERANZA * M. GERLEMAN * MEGHA SOOD * MARK LIPMAN * JONATHAN FLETCHER * MARTINA GALLEGOS * HABIB ABODUNRIN ZAKARI * MICHAEL BRAUTIGAN * THOMAS FUCALORO * BONNIE PRICE * EMENIKE CHRISTIAN CHIJIOKE * JON C. MANNONE * JASON D. SÖDERBLOM * AMERICA GARCIA * DAVID ROMERO * JAMES SCHWARTZ * CATHARINE BATSIOS * LAURIE KUNTZ * JAMES CROAL JACKSON * PEGGY LANDSMAN * NICK MAYNARD * RONALD K. CRAIG * JEFF KNORR * MILLICENT BORGES ACCARDI * ALLAN LAKE * JOEL H. VEGA * DAWN CORRIGAN * TAOFEEK AYEYEMI *ANDREA BLANCAS BELTRAN * GIANA HESTERBERG * JONATHAN ROWE * EMMANUEL IKUOVE * JEANIE SANDERS * ALAN PERRY * CHINEDU VINCENT OKORO * IMOGEN ARATE * DaRELL PITTMAN * D.L. LANG * DAVID MILLS * TRICIA KNOLL * ZACK RITTER * ROD CARLOS RODRIGUEZ * JO REYES-BOITEL * TAMMY M. GOMEZ * SONIA BEAUCHAMP * LUCINDA MARSHALL *IRIS DE ANDA * RÁUL SÁNCHEZ * HECTOR SON OF HECTOR * YOLANDA SEALEY-RUIZ * ROBIN CARSTENSEN * JUAN M. PÉREZ *  KENDRA NUTTALL * JIM LaVILLA HAVELIN * TOM MURPHY * DIMITRI REYES * CHRIS BILLINGS * LORRAINE GARNETT * CHIDIEBUBE ONYE OKOHIA * KATHLEEN MURPHEY * LISA BRAXTON * MIKE EKUNNO * DR. NANDINI BHATTACHARYA *  IWUAGWU IKECHUKWU * SARA WHITESTONE * KASAK JAIN * ROGER COLLINS * BEN FINE * MARK VASQUEZ * ERIKA E. GARZA 

Plain Rainbows: Kicking Off Pride Month! 🏳️‍🌈


Happy Pride Month everyone! If you missed our season premiere, "Kicking Off Pride Month", you can watch it on YouTube (above) or on the Plain Rainbows FB Page

We would like to take a moment and thank all the Plain Rainbows out there for supporting the podcast and our fabulous guests for sharing their stories and wisdom and showing us there is life beyond the Amish / Mennonite / Anabaptist closet!  

Happy Pride! 🏳️‍🌈

Promo Art: BJK 

"KICKING OFF PRIDE MONTH" 

Happy Pride Month!! I am looking forward to the PLAIN RAINBOWS: LGBTQ AMISH & ANABAPTIST STORIES premiere via FB & YouTube

My co-host Mary Byler and I are bringing you weekly episodes through Pride Month with a season of special guests discussing LGBT Amish and Anabaptist issues! 

Consider making a donation here. Mary Byler spends time and resources in her Amish  advocacy work and the LGBTQ Amish podcast would not be possible without her (thank you on behalf of us all, Mary)! 

A few #PlainRainbows highlights thus far: 

GROWING UP GAY & MENNONITE (TRAILER)

CONVERSATIONS PODCAST

INTRODUCTION TO TRANSGENDER PEOPLE & HOW TO BE AN ALLY!

Conversations on 1946


"Good Cop/Bad Cop" Anthology

 

 

The GOOD COP/BAD COP anthology is now available, click here & here

Amish Abuse Awareness



Important conversations on abuse within the Amish and Plain communities are taking place on several podcasts including THE PLAIN PEOPLE'S PODCASTTHE AMISH MISFIT. We also have a conversation on abuse within Plain communities on a forthcoming episode of the #PlainRainbows podcast. 

Please consider buying merch or making a donation to support! 

Attendees at the recent Amish Abuse Awareness conference included The Plain People's Podcast and Plain Rainbows! 

Photo credit: The Misfit Amish LLC 

Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia

I came across the (above) film on writer Gore Vidal which speaks to our present as well. Having read a few of his novels and many of his essays, I am still Team Capote but anyone who wishes to understand American politics should certainly read Vidal!

Spring Sale 🌼

 

Spring sale! Including SWEETER VOICES STILL: AN LGBTQ ANTHOLOGY FROM MIDDLE AMERICA from Belt Publishing!  

A groundbreaking nonfiction collection about queer life in the Midwest.

The middle of America—the Midwest, Appalachia, the Rust Belt, the Great Plains, the Upper South—is a queer place, and it always has been. The queer people of its cities, farms, and suburbs do not exist only to serve as “blue dots” within “red states.” Every story about a kid from Iowa who steps off the bus in Manhattan, ready to “finally” live, is a story about a kid who was already living in Iowa. Sweeter Voices Still is about that kid and has been written by people like them. This collection features queer voices you might recognize—established and successful writers and thinkers—and others you might not—people who don’t think of themselves as writers at all. You’ll find sex, love, and heartbreak and all the beings we meet along the way: trees, deer, cicadas, sturgeon. Most of all, you'll find real people. 

If you're seeking fully realized stories about the nuanced, joyous complexity of queer identity in the Midwest, Sweeter Voices Still is the book for you.

AHF Ambassadorship

At the 3rd annual Amish Heritage Foundation (virtual conference)


Are you of Amish heritage and an artist? 

It was an honor to serve as the first Artist Ambassador for the AMISH HERITAGE FOUNDATION. During the 3 month progam I gave a talk on LGBTQ Amish issues for AHF's 3rd annual (virtual) conference.

This gave me an oppurtinity to address LGBTQ+ Amish issues in an academic space for which I am grateful. Thank you TORAH BONTRAGER and to Lars for participating. I remain a supporter moving forward, now accepting applicants for new Artist Ambassadors, see AmishHeritage.org for details! 

Check out the podcast below for more on AHF and Torah Bontrager's writing tips!  

The Forbidden Apple Podcast: Affirming LGBTQ youth with Ross Murray

Ross Murray from GLAAD, Yass, Jesus! podcast and the Naming Project is back on the pod! His new book ”Made, Known, Loved” shows congregations how to create a program that affirms LGBTQ youth. How can we transform religious spaces into more welcoming environments and guide future leaders? 

#🍎: #NationalPoetryMonth






Hello / goodbye #NationalPoetryMonth! 

I have teamed up with THE FORBIDDEN APPLE PODCAST to celebrate! Above: "Satan's Inches" was originally published in "Michiana's Rainbow Gazzette" (2007) & below: "Slundered" from "The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America" (2011). 

Love Letter #NationalPoetryMonth



Weekend vibes. For #NationalPoetryMonth I was going through some early poetry I had written & found this previously unpublished poem: 

*** 

"Love Letter (Fragment)" 

Thinking about the men throughout my life: they always left. Dear Brother, Dear Father, Dear Man in the shadows outside the disco... 

Thinking about letters unsent and dreams undreamt. Blame everyone or no one. 

They left to find God, to run the streets, to go to war with themselves. 

The cityscape at nightfall in his muscular arms...

The way the moonlight could be mistaken for tears...

Men leaving in cars for new lives, 

Beginning with my absence. 

Au revoir. 

The city shines in his eyes. 

Always the years go by and shadows call...  

Fear & Loathing in Amish Country

10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY 

The Amish are a closed community: not just a religion but a lifestyle, culture and people, descendants of Medieval radical heretics fleeing persecution from the Catholic church and yes, other Protestant Christians during the Reformation era before colonizing ceded Native lands. 

Today there is inbreeding, abuse is commonplace, and being a closed religious community, self-policed. As I have stated elsewhere, the Old Order Amish Church today mirrors the Catholic church-state it opposes. It should be pointed out you can trace Amish (Anabaptist) lineages to Catholicism before Martin Luther and the Reformation, my  ancestors immigrants from Switzerland and France. 

 People see the Amish through the rosy lens of tourism (a common Amish experience is being photographed by tourists). In some states the Amish cater to or are a part of the tourism industry i.e. Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Shipshewana, Indiana.
Everything from furniture to clocks to quilts to baked goods to romance novels to keychains. The Amish-American experience is for sale, all major credit cards accepted. 

When one looks at the American literary canon however there is a void of Amish writers and poets. If an Amish member of the church were to pen a novel or literary work critical of the church they would be shunned, ex-communicated from the church. 
Freedom of speech and artistic expression would not be taken into consideration. 
In this and other ways the Amish church violates our human rights

My debut poetry collection The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America was published by inGroup Press in 2011 but it is hard to gauge the impact of a book, even a decade later, when any copies would be banned by the Bishops should a readership arise. Did I think my book of criticism and queer love sonnets would herald a new Age of Enlightenment? I can dream... 


A copy of "The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America" & handwritten poem placed at the Obermutten International Museum of Friendship 


Ancestral Berne, Indiana 2017 


BOOK EXCERPT



The Amish are a working set Family farming, factories, logging Canine mills for the Lancaster sect That are not into blogging. They have no use for me Homosexuality, John Updike poetry Literary prosody Or the works of T. Capote. The 21st century has begun Cell phones–now allowed! And tricked out buggies for the young Techno music pumpin’ loud. One day forward, two steps back Through the Shipshewana paparazzi set Selling their wares to the tourist pack Who gaze wonderingly upon the sect.


LGBTQ Amish: they are forced into the closet or forced to leave their families and communities. Tbere are no easy options. Those that have left have formed a support group and can be heard on various podcasts sharing their stories. As we move into the Zoom era there are vital conversations being had by ex-Amish i.e. THE PLAIN PEOPLE'S PODCAST. This is important as these voices are reaching Amish listeners and empowering them to make informed choices. 

Yes, there is backlash and pushback from the Amish to enforce tradition and the status quo. 

Above all.

Throughout their history in America the Amish have practiced non-engagement with the outside world and are absent from pivotal moments in history i.e. the civil rights movement and WW2. The LGBT rights movement also bypassed the Amish communities even as their "cousin" Mennonite Church schisms. Medieval anti-gay sermons are not unheard of, a ban on same sex marriage and sending LGBT youth to Amish / Plain run conversion therapy homes are obstacles facing us. Not to mention the lack of education.

It is up to the ex-Amish (non-practising) to provide the necessary resources to the Amish within the church and not attach help with any religious agenda. 

*  As a newly ordained minister I am welcoming to and available for all LGBTQ Amish weddings and spiritual counseling. See the Ministry page for booking info.

FOR AMISH RESOURCES CLICK HERE 

Hawaiian Healing 🌺

 
Photo: Kapoho 2017 


Happy birthday to Harry Jim! 

During my time in Puna I was honored to meet HARRY UHANE JIM, author, teacher and healer. A mutual friend introduced me to Harry and his wife one morning at the park in Kapoho. I will always treasure that memory! 

A PODCAST INTRODUCTION: 

Home ❤

 


I finally found my way home after 5 years! It was good to see the Amish farm where I grew up. 

"Arrival & Departure" EXCERPT #NationalPoetryMonth


BY JAMES SCHWARTZ 

 "Morning in Michigan" 


His stubbed jaw in the dawn. 

His sleepy, knowing smirk.

 Empty bottles, echoes of laughter. 


Pinnacle and piercing positions. 

The sounds of humming vending machines and maids. 

Drift down dim hallways. 


Outside semis lumber onto I80/90.

 Factory workers and farmers breakfast. 

Alone, driving home. 


Drive-through coffee, and miles to go.




"Christ in Ukraine"


Out of the closet, into the street.

 Vladimir Putin is coming for you. 

Tonight Christ walks in Ukraine. 

Tonight revolution after the rain.


 My lover’s ass shifts under his jeans.

 Resolution in his gaze.

 He is so fine in the candle-light.

 My savior with his whiskey breath.


 Behind his balaclava.




"Of Bergholz Bondage"


Sam Mullet and the Bergholz clan,
Of the Gaddafi sort you understand,
Snipping the symbols of the church rejected,
As the Old Order status quo disrespected.


The breaking of the Bergholz branch,
The Federal raiding of the renegade ranch,
Dictators unrepentant too proud in fact,
To inquire of the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act.




"ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE" (WRITING KNIGHTS PRESS) 2014 

 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.” 

– CHER GUEVARA, poet / freelance journalist

"The Road Not Taken" #NationalPoetryMonth

 April is my 5 year anniversary of attending Centers for Spiritual Living! Grateful for all of my friends made along the way! A lovely reading of Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" (15:12 mark) at today's East Hawaii Center for Spiritual Living service: 

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Happy Pride! 🏳️‍🌈

Promo Art: BJK  "KICKING OFF PRIDE MONTH"  Happy Pride Month!! I am looking forward to the  PLAIN RAINBOWS: LGBTQ AMISH & ANA...