Overground Underground Magazine issue #1 FREE!

A PDF of OVERGROUND UNDERGROUND MAGAZINE issue #1 is now FREE! Includes my poem "After Making Love to Emmanuel Macron in a Quarantined Paris".

The Worst Places In America I Have Visited



Spent some time watching the America Unboxed channel. Of course I have my own opinions but overall I have been to some not-that-great places in the US over the years. I currently reside in the vicinity of #2 and #6 in above video Worst Places to Live in Michigan but I love it here. The America Unboxed channel has made me consider out of all the places in the US, which did I like least? 

Michigan is home, whether it is rural Michigan which is picturesque with a lot of rivers and lakes and long gravel roads or the cities. Yes, I have been to Flint. 




FLORIDA... I loved living in Tallahassee, I loved visiting Key West and St. Augustine... Jacksonville not so much. This was way back in 2005 and I mostly saw clubs like Brothers which were ok. The best part was Jacksonville's beaches. 



HAWAII... was not a dream destination of mine, in fact I knew very little about the islands before moving to Puna in 2017. I loved living there and will always be a Punatic at heart!
Why leave? When it is time to continue your journey you know. 



PENNSYLVANIA... I could have grown up in "Rome" but did not. Thankfully. Just kidding PA! Seriously don't expect me to move to Lancaster any time soon. 

IN THE FAR DISTANCE SO MUCH IS BURNING (KINDLE EDITION) EXCERPT

 IN THE FAR DISTANCE SO MUCH IS BURNING (KINDLE EDITION) EXCERPT: 


AFTERGLOW (LOVE POEM TO A FILIPINO MAN) 

Sitting outside

By an old abandoned train car

On his back porch

The porch-light 

Illuminating 

Palm fronds 

A table

An empty laundry basket

A lone cane toad

A pillow

A cardboard box 

A bar of soap

A bag of Jasmine rice

Cans of insecticides 

Old paint cans

A broom

A pair of shoes

Representatives of 

His life

That I pass by

In silence 

After

Glow. 

Michigan Meditations

 2 works from my 2016 chapbook Michigan Meditations + photos from my home-state: 





#READINGINTHERAINFOREST (2017, Kapoho, Hawaii) 



August Update


 

Dear Readers,

I am enjoying the summer in Detroit and happy to be at work on new projects! My poem Telephone of the Wind is in the July issue of RIC Journal and several poems will be out in later this year (the literary world operates in a different time zone than we do). 

I am also taking a hiatus from blogging to focus my free time on writing my next book. I did not expect a surprise hit podcast Plain Rainbows: LGBTQ Amish & Anabaptist Stories and 2 anthologies to promote this summer but here we are! 



Sweeter Voices Still: An LGBTQ Anthology from Middle America is on sale via Belt Publishing and Good Cop/Bad Cop: An Anthology via FlowerSong Press

I was asked by a podcast earlier this year to post some book recs for summer but never got around to it... so, here are 3 books I loved: 


1. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life was a book I came across in Hawaii but did not have much enthusiasm picking up. Surfing? It is a fantastic read! 


2. Detroit Poems Read local! 


3. The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You is an unforgettable read. I even gave this strange, beautiful novel a shout out in my book Punatic. 

A big thank you to everyone for visiting this blog and your comments and messages on social! I appreciate you all! 

I am dropping a new poetry micro-chapbook in the Kindle store! A free ebook will also be made available. Happy summer reading! 

GOODREADS AUTHOR PAGE

RIC Journal: July issue

My meditation written in Feb. when I was in Washington,  Telephone of the Wind has been included in the July issue of RIC JOURNAL: 

"Our July issue is now online! Spend the summer days between telephones of the wind, dead men, buses in the night, conversations with the universe, memory cells, the visible, the invisible, and more."

#HappyBirthdayRuthEllis

The Literary Party Kindle eBook!

 

Need a summer read? I have recieved several queries (from Plain Rainbows) about my book of poetry, photos, essays & a short story "The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America", published via inGroup Press a decade ago. 


EDGE MEDIA BOOK REVIEW:

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. 

Available as a Kindle eBook!

8 Mile 4 Life

Plain Rainbows merch!

#PlainRainbows merch is here! Wear your Plain Pride! (*Amish Bishops may not approve*) 

Statement

 

Happy Pride to all the Plain Rainbows out there from Detroit! 

This has been an especially special Pride Month with the launch of our podcast "Plain Rainbows: LGBTQ Amish & Anabaptist Stories" with my co-host Mary Byler! 
This is the first time that LGBTQ Amish & Anabaptist issues have been discussed publicly, over 50 years since Stonewall so obviously overdue. 

There have been gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the Anabaptist diaspora since its inception but until now we have been shunned and silenced, oppressed and persecuted. 

No more. 

Today we formally announce the birth of the Amish & Anabaptist LGBTQ rights movement. We hereby declare our collective solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Mennonite and Plain communities and announce to the world: we are here and Plain and queer. 

We condemn the Old Order Amish Church and others in Anabaptist communities who continue to violate our human rights, silence us and separate families.

We condemn the ongoing physical, emotional, and sexual abuse perpetrated  daily in Amish and Anabaptist communities in America and around the world, unchecked. 

We call upon all the victims of abuse to directly contact law enforcement and bypass the Church. 

We call upon all Amish, Mennonite and Plain ministries to marry same-sex couples if requested to do so and to find a spiritual path to loving acceptance of us.

The Amish church-state today mirrors the Catholic church it once opposed. Instead of a beacon of freedom the Amish Church is a business and multi-million dollar tourism industry. 

The truth is the Old Order Amish could not be further from our forefathers' spiritual principles and ideals. 

As more and more of us leave the church to obtain our freedom, we individually hold a personal responsibility to those we have left behind in a fear-based, fundamentalist, spiritually barren environment held hostage by bishops and ministries playing God. 

No more.

Today we announce the #PlainRainbows movement to celebrate the authenticity of LGBTQ Amish and Anabaptist worldwide and our mission to uplift and support each other collectively against homophobia, hate, prejudice and ignorance.

Thank you for your support and thank you to all of our beautiful guests for stepping forward in our hour of need.

Happy Pride! 

-Rev. James Schwartz 

#Pride2021 Playlist ๐Ÿณ️‍๐ŸŒˆ


It is Pride weekend so here's a Pride playlist comprised of some songs from my clubbing days, some MI. artists etc. in no particular order. I loved manning the DJ booth on a slow night at The Zoo or Brothers, once and I will always love club music.


Crazy

Renegade

It Feels So Good

Stereo Love

Turn It Around

Smalltown Boy

Set You Free

Rise Up

Not Over Yet

10 Scared To Be Lonely

11 Just Be 

12 Put Your Hands Up For Detroit

13 Not Afraid

14 After the Love Has Gone 

15 Stay With Me Baby

16 God Control 

17 Amsterdam 

"Rain" A Short Film homage to #WSomersetMaugham


Plain Rainbows: Denver Pride ๐Ÿณ️‍๐ŸŒˆ

 


Thank you to my PLAIN RAINBOWS: LGBTQ AMISH & ANABAPTIST STORIES co-host Mary Byler for reppin LGBTQ Amish at Denver Pride - HERSTORY made! We are here and we are Plain and queer! More pics at the Plain Rainbows FB Page

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 GONZรLEZ Nรšร‘EZ * DAVE RENDLE * CRYSTAL GARCIA * KAREN CLINE-TARDIFF * NDABA SIBANDA * CONNOR ORRICO * EL DAVID * DANIEL GARCรA 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. Sร–DERBLOM * 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 * RรUL SรNCHEZ * HECTOR SON OF HECTOR * YOLANDA SEALEY-RUIZ * ROBIN CARSTENSEN * JUAN M. Pร‰REZ *  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! ๐Ÿณ️‍๐ŸŒˆ


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! ๐Ÿณ️‍๐ŸŒˆ

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!

Featured Post

Happy Pride! ๐Ÿณ️‍๐ŸŒˆ

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