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Five Question Friday -- James Schwartz (2015-01-16)

James Schwartz is a recent new addition to the Writing Knights cadre. He started in 2012 with a FourPlay Alpine Suite. Over the course of our interaction he submitted to two editions of the Poetry 4 Food Food Drive FourPlay. We sat down with James for five in depth questions.
So tell us, what is Arrival and Departure about?

It's my first long collection since "The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America" (2011) but not necessarily an Amish themed book. Mainly travel, topical and political pieces originally published on the blog Poetry24 ( 2011-2014.
The Occupy Wall Street protests, Arab Spring, Euromaidan to name several subjects. I write about my Amish roots and the Anabaptist Reformation in a prose piece "The Great American Gay Ex Amish Novel" but "Arrival and Departure" is more of a travelogue.

What were some of your influences upon writing A&D?

Walt Whitman of course! Hart Crane. The Beats, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac. I was under the influence of Jim Carroll when I wrote "4 AM Story." I really admire his work. I am also an admirer of Gertrude Stein's experimental style.
Several of the topical poems are on the barbaric treatment of the LGBT community in Russia and other parts of the world in these increasingly intolerant times. As a gay man I feel it is my duty to be on the front lines and show solidarity with the global LGBT community. As an artist a lot of my work, be it poetry, essays or short stories, details the gay Amish identity.      

If you could have any person read A&D who hasn't already who would it be and why?

Anyone who wouldn't normally read poetry for whatever reason. Poetry is an amazing art form and deserves to be widely read, especially  today when our world desperately needs illumination. When you make poetry a part of your life it enriches your perspective. I read somewhere poets are empowered to remind man he is free.

If you could stop any person from reading A&D who would it be and why?

Anyone confusing my book with hetero Amish bonnet rippers or religious poetry. My poetry is rather secular in nature although I would like to think even Bethany House readers might find my work inspirational!

What are some aspirations you have as a writer in the future? Any projects going to see the light of day?

I want to continue writing poetry and plan on submitting an "Arrival and Departure" sequel manuscript to Writing Knights sometime in 2015! Long term I can see myself writing essays and the occasional short story but poetry is my first love!

Thanks James! You can purchase Arrival and Departure here.
We will see you next time!

Writers/Artists: Are you interested in being interviewed? Send an email to writingknights(at) with the Subject line: "Writing Knights Interview"

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