A sleepcast poem from James Schwartz

The term ‘sleepcast’ (coined by Headspace.com) is described as an audio / visual presentation, a ‘wind down’ & description of a relaxing environment… beginning in the present moment… the hum of traffic on Woodward drifts through the spring evening… the singing crystal bowls soundbath (by Healing Vibrations) ring out on my YouTube app… binaural beats, Om chanting, chakra soundscapes, burning sage, glowing candles, Shiva mantras… inhale, exhale, slow deep breaths while we meditate on my memories… 

I met a guru by chance, as one does at Kehena Beach… he wore flowing robes & flowers & told me Shiva was the god of both marijuana & tobacco… he had just returned from a forbidden city in India… He grew his own medicine which he proudly displayed on the black sand, marveling at the glittering trichomes, inviting me to marvel as well, I agree I have seen none finer… He fills a bowl of his bounty & we smoke, watching the dolphins frolic, the drums from the Sunday drum circle pound with the surf… side by side we pass the bowl & gaze at the impossibly azure Pacific before us… 

Kehena Beach is a clothing optional gathering spot of the seekers & celebrated on the Big Island… where hippies, WOOFers, & backpackers pick their way down a treacherous cliff side to the volcanic sands below… 

The dolphins draw closer attracted by the drumming which in turn fuels the drummers… naked bronzed bodies writhe to the rhythms, a rainbow arcs overhead & the slightest rain mists through the sunshine… several dogs race down the length of the crashing Pacific… my guru friend leaves an offering to Shiva before departing… I watch the dance of the dolphins… inhaling the cleanest air on Earth… before I gently bring us back to the present moment… back to the city & street noise… if you feel like lingering on the beach you may do so… inhale, exhale, slow deep breaths… in your deep state of serenity…

Namaste. 

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

Bob Dylan Inspired Poem from James Schwartz : Revolution & Rust

Revolution & Rust

The night falls fast,
His kiss grows cold,
Blowing in the wind,
Memories glow gold,
 
So many years, man,
Have kept us apart,
His Bob Dylan records,
My silence as we part,
 
The morning comes quick,
Pray to our lust,
Tonight we will sing,
Of revolution & rust. 
 
 
https://youtu.be/1ST9TZBb9v8 
Wolfpack Contributor: James Schwartz
A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with James Schwartz
3 Poems by James Schwartz

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

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

3 Poems by James Schwartz

Brick/Mortar

I watched a documentary film on the rise & fall of Detroit,
& the automotive industry here.
I say here in Detroit because I
Stay here in the Motor City, 
On John R close to 7 Mile,
Everyday I hop on the #23,
Or #4 bus to head downtown 
To work,
Reading wisdom tagged,
On the crumbling brick walls,
Still standing in the winter winds...


I watched a brick masonry tutorial on YouTube,
& remembered, 
My Amish father was a mason for a period,
His brick & mortar also still standing.
Although he has departed,
From his earthly work,
Leaving behind,
Red bricks shaping,
An apartment building,
On Lafayette street,
Several hours southwest,
Of the barren cityscape,
Flashing before my eyes,
Here,
On the Hamilton bus... 



Rivers (sonnet)

Lay his hands upon my hardworking own.
Kiss my painted lips with a warrior's rue.
Entangled tongues, restless lungs, gasp, groan.
As mystery of history dawns true.
I loved him at first stare and first silence.
As mere minutes later he took me down.
Killing, filling with the sweetest violence.
Feeling the music though there was no sound.
Glazed eyes gazed amazed at praised flesh and bone.
Worshipful raptures wrapped in regal hush.
Going before God of Ganymedes' throne.
The rush of lust in spring forests lie lush.
In conquered land by embrace and in haste.
Revealed reveries and rivers to taste.


*EXCERPT from "The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America" (Kindle, 2011)

Kalapana Meditation

"Only a Pompeii and a Herculaneum were needed at the foot of Kīlauea to make the story of the eruption immortal." 
- Mark Twain, "Roughing It"

We hike over the miles of moonlit lava rocks, to the base of the volcano, the glowing crater above us. What are the odds of a girl from Brazil, Australia, California and a queer ex-Amish poet gathering at the Kalapana lava flow?
Nambe sings a spiritual song about creation and giving thanks. Molten lava flows around and beneath us, bursting through rocks and spilling into the rainy night.
On the way back I fall, Pele kissing me as a "kumu" later tells me. I carry a scar beneath my eye today.
We get lost on the way back, wandering for hours over the onyx landscape. A flashlight beams at us suddenly.
"I'm Nate the Great from Wisconsin but at the moment I'm not so great - I'm lost."
Nate the Great from Wisconsin joins our caravan as does a couple whose cell phones guide us to the road, well after midnight.
Nambe holds my hand the entire way. Nate is reunited with his friends and we walk the road back together.

Back to the moments at the flow, huddled near the lava's warmth against the cold rain. Back to Nambe's song. Back to the fiery streams.
I sit by the girls, watching the embers glow. The moonlight is gone, with only the alchemy of Pele...


*EXCERPT from "Punatic" (Writing Knights Press, 2019) 


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

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