A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with James Schwartz

with James Schwartz:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences? Current influences?

James:

I won several awards in school for creative writing and had teachers’ encouragement as well as free reign at the local library. I was searching for my own story, one that reflected my identity as a gay youth in a closed religious community that is hostile to its LGBTQ members and practises shunning, family separation and conversion therapy. 

I was also reading about the world at large, outside my Old Order Amish community. Daniel Defoe, Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling were childhood favorites. 

Later in my 20s I read Oscar Wilde, Arthur Rimbaud, Allen Ginsberg, the Beats, Hart Crane, Willa Cather, Truman Capote, James Baldwin, Pat Parker, any LGBTQ writer I could find.  

Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

James: I knew I wanted to write early on but what does an Amish boy from the Midwest have to say about life? I had to sow my wild oats as the Amish say about youthful rebellion however there were a lot of oats to sow! I had to go clubbing and travel and fall in love and find my own way.

Q3: Who has helped you most with writing?

James: In my 20s I wrote almost every night, sometimes with a friend and we would read aloud our odes to drag queens and go go boys on the Kalamazoo gay scene which circa 2000 was a Mecca with Brothers Beta Club and The Zoo Bar, where I gave several poetry readings. I have always felt supported by my LGBTQ community and chosen family. 

Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & have any travels away from home influence your work?

James: I am from the Midwestern, Bukowski, working-class school of poets and from a Swiss Amish background. I inherited the Amish work ethic and try to write 5 nights a week. Fun fact: Today you can see a copy of my poetry collection “The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America” in Obermutten, Switzerland’s International Museum of Friendship! 

Travel always inspires. I have traveled around the US and Mexico and lived in Puna, Hawai’i for 3 years which inspired my book of poetry and photos “Punatic” (Writing Knights Press). When I moved to Puna I had no idea this was an international destination for spiritual refugees. 

Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?

James: My first book, “The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America” for the obvious reasons: it was a coming out story from a place where there were no coming out stories. It was a stepping stone to use a poetic metaphor which would lead to the formation of LGBT Amish.com, an online support group and recently co-hosting “Plain Rainbows: LGBTQ Amish and Anabaptist Stories” podcast with Mary Byler (YouTube, Facebook, Podbean platforms).

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

James: Reading the classics, a mystery novel, biography, history or travel essays. Meditation and nature walks in my free time.

Q7: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poet?

James: Shakespeare’s line in “Hamlet”: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Q8: What kind of music do you enjoy?

James: Baroque, jazz, house music depending on the mood. I am also fond of Hawaiian music and watch the Merrie Monarch Festival every year!

Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

James: “Punatic” was rereleased in 2020 and I recently contributed to the anthologies “Lovejets: Queer Male Poets on 200 Years of Walt Whitman” (Squares and Rebels Press), “Sweeter Voices Still: An LGBTQ Anthology from Middle America” (Belt Publishing) and “Good Cop/Bad Cop” (FlowerSong Press).

Bio & Links:

James Schwartz is a poet, writer, slam performer, speaker & author.


His book THE LITERARY PARTY: GROWING UP GAY AND AMISH IN AMERICA was published by inGroup Press in 2011 + nominated for a Lambda Literary Award & #ARTFORFREEDOM. Schwartz has also been a PUSHCART PRIZE nominee. 


 Poetry by Schwartz has been published in various journals (SILVER BIRCH PRESS, THE NEW VERSE NEWS, WRITERSRESIST.COM, RIC JOURNAL, HEADLINE POETRY & PRESS, ACROSS THE SOCIAL DISTANCES, TRAIN: A POETRY JOURNAL, OVERGROUND / UNDERGROUND MAGAZINE, ICEFLOE PRESS, FEVERS OF THE MIND) 

+ the anthologies:


AMONG THE LEAVES: QUEER MALE POETS ON THE MIDWESTERN EXPERIENCE (2012)

MILK & HONEY SIREN (2013)


WRITING KNIGHTS PRESS 2014 ANTHOLOGY 


PAGE-A-DAY POETRY ANTHOLOGY 2015


QDA: A QUEER DISABILITY ANTHOLOGY (2015)


DANGEROUS SUBMISSIONS (2017)


CHALLENGING SUBMISSIONS (2017)


#R E S I S T(2017)


GRAND SHOWCASE 2018 


NOT MY PRESIDENT: THE ANTHOLOGY OF DISSENT (2017)


LOVEJETS: QUEER MALE POETS ON 200 YEARS OF WALT WHITMAN(2019) 

POETRY IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS (2020)

MARCH 2020: A COVID-19 ANTHOLOGY  

JUNE 2020: A PANDEMIC ANTHOLOGY 

SWEETER VOICES STILL: AN LGBTQ ANTHOLOGY FROM MIDDLE AMERICA (2021) 

GOOD COP/BAD COP: AN ANTHOLOGY (2021)

+ ALPINE SUITE (2013), POETRY 4 FOOD 2 (2013), POETRY 4 FOOD 3 (2014), ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE (2014), SECULAR, SATIRICAL & SACRED MEDITATIONS (2016), MICHIGAN MEDITATIONS (2016), PUNATIC(2019), SELECTED POEMS (2019), IN THE FAR DISTANCE SO MUCH IS BURNING (2021),  #MARTYRMIRRORS (2021) chapbooks.

 In 2011 Schwartz joined the Three Rivers Community Players for a production of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, playing a Phantom. 

He appears in the documentary films THE SEAHORSE + FROM PAHOA WITH LAVA 4.

A slam performer, Schwartz has read at various venues including The Zoo Bar, This is Fire! Kukuau Studio, La Hiki Ola kava bar + speaking at East Hawaii Center for Spiritual Living. 


Essays by Schwartz have appeared in RFD MAGAZINE, THE GOOD MEN PROJECT, OUR HAPPY HOURS: LGBT VOICES FROM THE GAY BARS anthology (winner of a Goldie Award) + short story AMISH ROAD TRIP in JONATHAN: A JOURNAL OF QUEER MALE FICTION & several Amazon Kindle eBooks (VOLCANO SUITE). 

Media appearences include HUFF POST LIVE, DIVERSITY RULES MAGAZINE, SENSA NOSTRA MAGAZINE, SHUNNED PODCAST, THE FORBIDDEN APPLE PODCAST, THE PLAIN PEOPLE’S PODCAST & THE NEW YORK TIMES. 

He co-hosts the podcast Plain Rainbows: LGBTQ Amish and Anabaptist Stories with Mary Byler.

James Schwartz resides in Detroit. 

literaryparty.blogspot.com @queeraspoetry 

Bio: James Schwartz is a poem, slam performer and author of various poetry collections including The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America (Kindle, 2011), Punatic (Writing Knights Press, 2019) & most recently Motor City mix (Alien Buddha Press, 2022)

Literaryparty.blogspot.com @queeraspoetry

By davidlonan1

David writes poetry, short stories, and writings that'll make you think or laugh, provoking you to examine images in your mind. To submit poetry, photography, art, please send to feversofthemind@gmail.com. Twitter: @davidLOnan1 + @feversof Facebook: DavidLONan1

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