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Q&A with E. Ethelbert Miller of Poet Lore

By Leslie McGrath
Drunken Boat

Poet Lore, the nation’s oldest continually-published literary magazine, is celebrating its 120th year. Established in 1889 and affiliated with the renowned Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, Poet Lore has published poetry and poetry reviews throughout half of our nation’s history. Published semiannually, Poet Lore has continued the vision of founding editors Charlotte Porter and Helen A. Clarke, who introduced to the American reader poetry from across not only the U.S. but also from South America, the Middle East, and Asia.

Poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller, has served both on the board of directors of the Writers Center and as one of Poet Lore’s editors for the last eight years. He is board chairperson for the Institute for Policy Studies and the director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University. Miller is highly regarded for his knowledge of African American literature and his generosity to other writers. A frequent commentator on National Public Radio, Miller has published nine books of poetry. His second memoir, The Fifth Inning (Busboys and Poets Press) has garnered wide acclaim.

Managing editor Leslie McGrath spoke recently with Miller about his involvement with, and wishes for, Poet Lore.

Q. How did you get involved with Poet Lore?

I’d like to believe that Al Lefcowitz, the founder of The Writer’s Center, had a visionary moment. He’s responsible for me not only becoming one of the editors of Poet Lore, but also a board member of the Center. Al also selected Rick Cannon and Jody Bolz as editors. We quickly established a nice working chemistry. Rick left for personal reasons. I miss him. Caitlin Hill, now our managing editor, has done a remarkable job in that position. We’ve been fortunate to have undergone a variety of staff changes without any harm to the quality of the publication. A wonderful recent addition has been Jean Nordhaus as review editor.

Q. What did you know of Poet Lore before you became involved?

I never submitted poems to Poet Lore for publication. I wasn’t even a regular reader of the magazine. To some extent I viewed it as a “suburban” journal because of its association with The Writer’s Center outside the District of Columbia. It’s funny that many of my friends of color (even today) are not aware that I’m one of the editors of Poet Lore. Many people might be surprised to learn that Jody and I have our regular meetings at my house. It’s like that hidden location Cheney was fond of.

Q. How has its focus changed since you’ve been involved, if at all?

We no longer publish translations. The “Poets Introducing Poets” section is something we introduced and are very proud of. It’s a way of keep our contributing editors actively involved in the journal. Jody and I have discussed the desire to publish more long poems. Overall, I think the design and style of Poet Lore has improved. We’ve been using historical photographs for our covers. The names of contributors to an issue are now listed on the back cover. It’s important to produce a poetry magazine that people are proud to be included in. At the end of the day, I want someone to share Poet Lore with a friend or lover.

Q. Do you have any unrealized goals for Poet Lore?

I think Poet Lore has begun to benefit from Charles Jensen’s new leadership as director of the Writer’s Center. Our visibility is growing as we introduce ourselves to a new generation of readers. I like when I read a poet’s biographical note and they make reference to Poet Lore being a place where they’ve published. We take pride in discovering new voices. The future of Poet Lore will be shaped by its ability to capture the changing cultural voice of American poetry. We have to be able to embrace a multitude of writers who differ in voice and style.

Q. How has your work with Poet Lore affected your own writing and career?

I’ve been blessed having the opportunity to work with Jody Bolz as a co-editor.
She has to be considered one of the best poetry editors working with a magazine right now. I like her attention to detail, as well as her passion and love for poetry. Working with Poet Lore keeps my feet in the water.

This year I published a second memoir. I’ve been writing my E-Notes (a blog) every day. It’s good to have Poet Lore put her hand around my waist or find the center of my back. I need the hug and caress that only a good poem can give.

Buy book now | Download PDF now 

Leslie McGrath is managing editor of Drunken Boat online journal of the arts. Her first poetry collection, Opulent Hunger, Opulent Rage, (Main Street Rag) was published in fall, 2009. She edited, with Ravi Shankar, Reetika Vazirani’s posthumous poetry collection, Radha Says (Drunken Boat Press, 2010.)




Tofu Hound Imprint


logoTogether with Bob and Jenna Torres, authors of Vegan Freak, we present Tofu Hound! The imprint develops innovate books on veganism and animal rights that promote an inspiring, new vision of social justice that includes animals.

We are a publisher with a commitment to publishing quality books on veganism, vegetarian cooking, animal rights, and related issues. We're small, but we have a lot of heart, and we work hard to bring valuable, vital, entertaining, and useful titles to market.

1. Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World, 2nd Edition —Bob and Jenna Torres
2. Generation V: The Complete Guide to Going, Being, and Staying Vegan as a Teenager — Claire Askew
3. New American Vegan — Vincent J. Guihan
4. Alternative Vegan: International Vegan Fare Straight from the Produce Aisle — Dino Sarma Weierman
5. Cook, Eat, Thrive: Vegan Recipes from Everyday to the Exotic — Joy Tienzo

    

 

 

 

 

Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World, 2nd Edition
Authors: Bob and Jenna Torres
Publisher: PM Press/Tofu Hound Press
Published: Dec. 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60486-015-3
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 248
Dimensions: 8.5 by 5.5
Subjects: Vegetarianism, Activism
$14.95

Going vegan is easy, and even easier if you have the tools at hand to make it work right. In the second edition of this informative and practical guide, two seasoned vegans help you learn to love your inner vegan freak. Loaded with tips, advice, and stories, this book is the key to helping you thrive as a happy, healthy, and sane vegan in a decidedly non-vegan world that doesn't always get what you're about.

In this sometimes funny, sometimes irreverent, and sometimes serious guide that's not afraid to tell it like it is, you will:

* find out how to go vegan in three weeks or less with our "cold tofu method"

*discover and understand the arguments for ethical, abolitionist veganism

* learn how to convince family, friends, and others that you haven't joined a vegetable cult by going vegan

*get some advice on dealing with people in your life without creating havoc or hurt feelings

* learn to survive restaurants, grocery stores, and meals with omnivores

*find advice on how to respond when people ask you if you "like, live on apples and twigs."

In a revised and rewritten second edition, Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World is your guide to embracing vegan freakdom. Come on, get your freak on!

Reviews:

"Going vegan is the single most important thing you can do to live nonviolence and the abolition of animal exploitation in your everyday life. In this down-to-earth and entertaining guide, Bob and Jenna Torres not only convince you that you have to go vegan today, they also give you what you need to live as a healthy and happy vegan for the rest of your life." -- Gary L. Francione, Distinguished Professor of Law, Rutgers University

"Vegan Freak is a witty, helpful, wall to wall look at going vegan. A must read for anyone who's felt like the only vegan-freak in the room." --Sarah Kramer, author of How It All Vegan

About the Authors:

A recovering academic, Bob Torres holds a PhD. in Development Sociology from Cornell University. Author of Making A Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights (AK Press, 2007), Bob's writings have also appeared in Critical Sociology, the Journal of Latinos and Education, International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, and Satya magazine. Co-host of Vegan Freak Radio, Bob has been quoted extensively in media pieces on veganism and animal rights. He maintains a web presence at www.bobtorres.net.

Jenna Torres has a BA in Spanish and a BS in Plant Science from Penn State University, and received her PhD. from Cornell University in Spanish linguistics. She currently works at a small liberal arts university in upstate New York.  She is the co-host of Vegan Freak Radio, a podcast about life as a vegan in a very non-vegan world.  She has also been on Animal Voices Radio (CUIT Toronto) and been quoted in Newsweek, Metro newspaper, Veg News, and the book Vegetarians and Vegans in the World Today.  In her spare time, she enjoys running, hiking, playing video games, and spending quality time with Bob and with her dogs and cat.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Bob and Jenna Torres's Page

 

Generation V: The Complete Guide to Going, Being, and Staying Vegan as a Teenager
Author: Claire Askew
Publisher: PM Press/Tofu Hound
ISBN: 978-1-60486-338-3
Published: May 2011
Format: PDF, ePUB, Mobi
Page Count: 160
Size: 8.5 by 5.5
Subjects: Food-Vegetarianism, Philosophy-Ethics
$14.95


Going vegan is the single most important thing you can do if you want to get serious about animal rights. Yet, going vegan isn't always easy when you're young. You're living under your parents' roof, you probably don't buy your own groceries, and your friends, family, and teachers might look at you like you're nuts. So, how do you do it?

In this essential guide for the curious, aspiring, and current teenage vegan, Claire Askew draws on her years of experience as a teenage vegan and provides the tools for going vegan and staying vegan as a teen. Full of advice, stories, tips, and resources, Claire covers topics like: how to go vegan and stay sane; how to tell your parents so they don't freak out; how to deal with friends who don't get it; how to eat and stay healthy as a vegan; how to get out of dissection assignments in school; and tons more. Whether you're a teenager who is thinking about going vegan or already vegan, this is the ultimate resource, written by someone like you, for you.

Praise:

“An essential guide that covers all bases…this first effort is a welcome surprise”
--VegNews

“A book that is genuine and heartfelt while also being funny, personal, and theoretically rigorous
--Bob Torres in the Vegetarian Journal

“This book is motivational, inspiring, resourceful and practical.”
--Herbivoreclothing.com

About the Author:

Claire Askew was born in 1990 and went vegan a few days after her fifteenth birthday. After growing up in the Midwest, she is currently studying English and gender at a small liberal arts college in Portland, OR. She has been featured in VegNews magazine, the Vegetarian Journal, the Kansas City Star, and several podcasts, as well as the 2009 edition of Fiske Real College Essays That Work. She plans on spending the rest of her life writing, and this is her first book.

Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Claire Askew's Page

 
New American Vegan
Author: Vincent Guihan
Publisher: PM Press / Tofu Hound Press
Published: October 2011
ISBN: 978-1-60486-079-5
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 240
Dimensions: 10 by 7
Subjects: Vegan Cookbook
$17.95

All across North America, people are looking to make better choices, but also eat healthier, more environmentally friendly and, most of all, great tasting food. New American Vegan breaks from a steady stream of cookbooks inspired by fusion and California cuisines that put catchy titles and esoteric ingredients first in their efforts to cater to a cosmopolitan taste. Instead, Vincent goes back to his Midwestern roots to play a humble but important role in the reinvention of American cuisine while bringing the table back to the center of American life.

Weaving together small town values, personal stories and 120 great recipes, New American Vegan delivers authentically American food that simply has to be tasted to be believed. Recipes range from very basic to the modestly complicated, but always with an eye on creating something that is both beautiful and delicious while keeping it simple. Clear instructions provide step by steps, but also help new cooks find their feet in the kitchen, with a whole chapter devoted just to terms, tools and techniques. With an eye towards improvisation, the book provides a detailed basic recipe that’s good as-is, but also provides additional notes that explain how to take each recipe further, to increase flavor, to add drama to the presentation or just how to add a little extra flourish for new cooks and seasoned kitchen veterans.

Praise:

“Guihan has a knack for infusing bold and fiery seasonings into fresh produce and vegan pantry staples--creating inventive, novel recipes that will inspire and excite the vegan home cook.” --Dreena Burton, author of Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan

“Vincent shows people that being a gourmand can happen in 30 minutes, and at all skill levels. This book will have you running to your kitchen to try things out.” --Dino Sarma, author of Alternative Vegan: International Vegan Fare Straight from the Produce Aisle

About the Author:

Vincent has been a vegan for more than a decade, and was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for a decade prior to becoming vegan. He grew up in a in a very small Midwestern town (Warterman, IL), where his back yard was the neighbor’s cornfield.  His parents cooked only sporadically, even though the nearest fast-food restaurants were a 20-minute car ride away and this cookbook is his revenge. Raised on TV dinners, burgers, pizza and spaghetti, he spent much of his young adulthood nestled between the delicatessens, greasy spoons and taquerias of Chicago’s southwest side, which helped to build his palate. Today, he lives in Ottawa, Canada, a city renowned (at least in Canada!) for its cosmopolitan snugness in spite of its size where he gorges himself on the cornucopia of foods from all over the globe, many of which he can’t even pronounce.  He has been blogging about vegan cooking and gourmet topics since 2006. And although not a formally trained chef, he’s a formally trained and highly skilled eater.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Vincent J. Guihan's Page  

 

Alternative Vegan: International Vegan Fare Straight from the Produce Aisle
Author: Dino Sarma Weierman
Publisher: PM Press/Tofu Hound Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-508-0
Published: Dec 2011
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 160 Pages
Size: 10 by 7
Subjects: Cookbook, Vegan
$17.95

“I want you to look at the recipes presented here and be as excited as a kid with a new toy. I want your heart to race, your mouth to water, and your pots and pans to sing to you as they bring together the elements of a good dining experience....” –From the Introduction

Tofu, seitan, tempeh, tofu, seitan, tempeh.... it seems like so many vegans rely on these products as meat substitutes. Isn’t it time to break out of the mold? Taking a fresh, bold, and alternative approach to vegan cooking without the substitutes, this cookbook showcases more than 100 fully vegan recipes, many of which have South Asian influences. With a jazz-style approach to cooking, it also discusses how to improvise cooking with simple ingredients and how to stock a kitchen to prepare simple and delicious vegan meals quickly. The recipes for mouth-watering dishes include one-pot meals--such as South-Indian Uppama and Chipotle Garlic Risotto along with Pakoras, Flautas, Bajji, Kashmiri Biriyani, Hummus Canapes, and No-Cheese Pizza. With new, improved recipes this updated edition also shows how to cook simply to let the flavor of fresh ingredients shine through.

Explore your inner chef and get cooking with Dino!

Praise:

“This is vegan new school, which is really vegan old school, which draws on traditions that pre-date any of us. Cooking can be empowering, no doubt about it.”
--Lauren Corman, host of Animal Voices on CIUT in Toronto.

About the Author:

Dino Sarma Weierman was born in New Delhi, India, and immigrated to the USA with his family in 1986. From childhood, cooking has been a passion for him. He draws his influences from his mother and the many hours of food shows on television that he watched. Dino also writes and podcasts about food at http://altveg.blogspot.com/.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Dino Sarma Weierman's Page

 

Cook, Eat, Thrive: Vegan Recipes from Everyday to Exotic
Author: Joy Tienzo
Publisher: PM Press / Tofu Hound Press
Published March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60486-509-7
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 256
Dimensions: 10 by 7
Subjects: Vegan Cookbook
$17.95

Whether we find ourselves living large or small, everyday or exotic, there are countless opportunities to come to the table. --From the introduction

In Cook, Eat, Thrive, Joy Tienzo encourages you to savor the cooking process while crafting distinctive meals from fresh, flavorful ingredients. Enjoy comfortable favorites. Broaden your culinary horizons with internationally-inspired dishes. Share with friends and family, and create cuisine that allows people, animals, and the environment to fully thrive.

Cook, Eat, Thrive features dishes from both the everyday and the exotic, including:
• Buttermilk Biscuits with Southern Style Gravy
• Earl Grey Carrot Muffins
• Orange Cream Green Smoothie
• Palm Heart Ceviche
• Barbecue Ranch Salad
• Riz et Pois Rouges
• Raspberry Chévre Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette
• Samosa Soup
• Tarte aux Poireaux et Pommes de Terre
• Mofongo with Cilantro Lime Gremolata
• Ras el Hanout Roasted Beets
• Italian Cornmeal Cake with Roasted Apricots and Coriander Crème Anglaise
• Lavender Rice Pudding Brulee with Blueberries
• Peanut Butter Shortbread with Concord Grape Sorbet

Inside, you’ll also find:
• An extensive equipment and ingredients listing
• Basics like seitan, non-dairy milks, grains, frozen desserts, and salad dressing
• Menus for occasions, from Caribbean-inspired garden parties to vegan weddings
• Practical symbols to let you know if recipes are raw, low fat, soy-free, wheat-free, approachable for non-vegans, and quick fix

Praise:

Cook, Eat, Thrive gives vegans the option of choosing exotic and extraordinary recipes for special dinner preparations, or simpler, yet imaginative creations for day to day meal planning.  Whether you're looking for everyday vegan fare, or exquisite vegan dining, Tienzo serves it up with culinary flair!” --Dreena Burton, author of Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan

“Every time I look at glossy food photography, I think of Joy's cookbook, and how she's already managed a stellar vegan version of it. Veganism discovers its abundance in here.” --Dino Sarma Weierman, author of Alternative Vegan: International Vegan Fare Straight from the Produce Aisle

About the Author:

Joy Tienzo loves food, and writing about food. Whether working as a pastry cook, hosting community brunches, or crafting wedding cakes, her purpose in life is to feed as many people as well as possible. When not in the kitchen, Joy can be found on a plane, a yoga mat, or volunteering for refugee and human rights causes. She lives in Denver with her husband and daughter, and can be found online at www.cookeatthrive.com.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Joy Tienzo's Page




A Sharp Elbow to Power's Jutting Jaw

By Mark Hand
Press Action

Mickey Z.’s Self-Defense for Radicals is more than a metaphor for resisting the oppression of governments and corporations. It’s literally a manual for helping you defend yourself when attacked by a mugger, political adversary, bully or anyone intending to commit physical violence against you.

Whether you should use the advice offered by Mickey depends on the situation, of course. If you’re walking down a city street and you’re confronted by a mugger armed with a gun, you may want to think twice about attempting to fend off the attacker by biting him or head-butting him — two self-defense techniques described by Mickey in the book.

However, let’s say you’re walking down the same city street and you’re grabbed from behind, but there’s no hint the attacker is armed. If you’re able to free your arms, why not follow Mickey’s advice and “deliver a sharp elbow to power’s jutting jaw.” Or try to use your elbows as a weapon by aiming them at your attacker’s eyes or groin. Just to be safe, Mickey suggests that if your first elbow lands cleanly, follow it up with several more strikes against your attacker.

Mickey is a martial artist, kickboxer and personal trainer. His decades of training in the martial arts — and his focus on combining a calm mind with a keen understanding of the body and the physics of action — have served as the foundation for his views on violence and how it should be avoided in most cases. However, as Mickey writes:

“Learning how to fight and/or defend yourself is not the same as promoting belligerent, anti-social behavior. We live in an exceedingly violent society. … While talk of non-violence is understandable and the struggle for peace has never been more essential, let’s face it: the odds are, that sooner or later you’re going to end up in a confrontation that may escalate into physical violence. So, why not be prepared?”

Mickey’s years of experience as a martial artist and personal trainer qualify him to write about self-defense. But he also says you shouldn’t worry about qualifications when wondering how to fight back. “You don’t need credentials to kick an oppressor’s ass,” he says.

Self-Defense for Radicals, published by PM Press, contains fewer than 40 pages. But as Derrick Jensen says in a blurb on the back cover: “This small book packs a powerful punch.” And Richard Cole’s cartoons, scattered throughout the book, provide a potent complement to Mickey’s self-defense instructions.

Following in the tradition of his other “list” books — The Seven Deadly Spins and 50 American Revolutions You’re Not Supposed to Know — Mickey’s Self-Defense for Radicals serves as an easy-to-use alphabetical manual for protecting yourself. The book’s target audience is women. In the “S” chapter, Mickey offers some statistics on the level of violence against women in the United States, much of which is committed not by a stranger, but by a husband or a boyfriend. For example, 232,960 women in the United States were raped or sexually assaulted in 2006. That’s more than 600 women every day. Also, 14% of all American women acknowledge having been violently abused by a husband or boyfriend.

Mickey also quotes Martha McCaughey, author of Real Knockouts, who explains that women who take self-defense instruction are offered a critique of the ways in which gender is constructed in a culture of male privilege that rests on the abuse of women. McCaughey continues:

“What is usually taken for granted as a fact of nature — that a woman simply cannot physically challenge a man — is revealed as a social script which privileges men at the expense of women. … Self-defense offers the possibility of a critical consciousness of gender’s influence on what we see as male and female bodies.”

While the book is tailored as a self-defense guide for women, most of the tips and lessons also can help men fend off an attacker. Eye gouges and groin punches can be just as effective when used by a man.

You may wonder why the book is titled Self-Defense for RADICALS. It’s because Mickey’s goal is to instill confidence in the minds of those people — feminists, environmentalists, activists for animal rights, human rights, civil rights and all rebels and dissidents — who are “putting their asses on the line” for fundamental change in our society. In defining “radical,” Mickey gets an assist from Angela Davis, who he quotes early in the book: “Radical simply means grasping things at the root.”

Along with his instructional guidance, Mickey’s message is motivational. In a world where oppressors have been operating scot-free for so long, Mickey offers an uncomplicated rallying cry: “It’s time to not be nice.”

Buy this pamphlet now | Download PDF now




Interview with Martin Bull

 

1. How do you keep up-to-date with the new Banksy artwork going up around London?
 
Because of the internet (in particular) and digital cameras/camera phones it's now so much easier. New street work by Banksy (or possibly by him) gets photographed and spread around the world very quickly now. I keep in touch with several internet sources, especially the Banksy group on flickr, which I now hep to run. I also sometimes get told of new work by my friends, and have also been fortunate enough to be the first to 'discover' and spread the news about a few new ones myself, such as the 'Maid' and the 'Old St Cherub' (both in Hoxton, London).
 
2. You said you have had weird experiences discovering the artwork. Please explain?
 
It's not that weird I guess, but it seems strange how I decide to go down a particular street that I have not been down for ages (or never been down), or to visit a certain area for no obvious reason, and then I find something I've not seen before (and sometimes a piece that very few people have ever seen before). Or something might take me away from my original plan (e.g. a bus diversion, traffic problem, or talking to a random stranger) and it's at that point I find something. Maybe it's just the law of averages (I do wander a lot, and maybe I block out all the times I haven't found things!), but it does seem to me as if I find more than can be expected this way, and somehow I find things I never expected.
 
3. What can people expect to experience on the tour? And what about London, apart from Banksy art?
 
I don't actually run the tours anymore (I did 4 in 2006, but after then there were hardly enough to see, and I had moved away from London), but people can still use the book (and the free 'status updates' on my website) to do their own DIY tour if they want. It might have to be a shorter tour now though, or they might need to lower their expectations compared to how many used to exist. But doing your own tour means you can do whatever you want. It's perfect freedom, and more challenging in some ways.
London is apparently an ‘exciting’ city but I found that unless you could use its opportunities you might as well live elsewhere. I prefer the countryside really, although I do love the graffiti and the hustle and bustle and multi-culturalism of many parts of the city. It’s full of graffiti, especially in East London, and there are some great places on the outskirts, in places you might not expect to be fruitful, such as Feltham, Hanworth and Twickenham in West London. My favourite alternative graff area is Hackney Wick; an oasis of calm in an otherwise bustling Hackney / East London, and loads of good graff. The Olympic village will probably seriously change this area soon though.
 
4. With artwork disappearing and new pieces turning up, is it fair to say no tour is ever the same?
 
Two of the tours I only did once each, but the Hoxton/Shoreditch tour I did twice, and yes, they were different. Sometimes things literally change overnight, even though you might have walked some of the route the day before. When I return to London I still often wander around that area in particular, because it changes all the time; that's the nature of graffiti and it's not a real problem, although it does sometimes seem strange to see something really good or very old that suddenly disappears, especially if it's been gone over by something weak, or by the graffiti cleaning squads.
 
5. What feedback have you had about the tours?
 
I had good feedback about the tours, and people who came left pretty happy I think (probably helped by the tours being free, and me giving away a free hand printed B&W photo of mine, plus some rare stickers or postcards kindly donated by Pictures On Walls!). A few armchair critics came out of the woodwork though to criticise what i did, with comments such as 'a tour is a weird idea' (expletive removed!), or that a tour spoils the 'serendipity' of finding graffiti (I had to look 'serendipity' up in the dictionary). It's strange that everyone these days seems to have an opinion about everything in life (usually negative; and usually from people who never get off their sofas to try to do anything themselves). I think people who have opinions should be shot. That's just my opinion though J
 
6. Is it strictly a walking tour, or do you catch the tube?
 
The tours in the book are deliberately walking tours, and you don’t need to use any other transport. They could also be done by people with baby buggies or using a wheelchair, as any steps can be avoided. With more and more of the locations now gone there is more distance between the remaining locations, but you could still do the tours if you wanted, or you could just make your own DIY tour. The tours and the book were made as a bit of an accidental DIY effort, so I encourage people to take from them whatever they want. Have a nice few hours wandering around, chill out, talk to strangers, buy a copy of the Big Issue, and have a good time.

Buy book now | Download PDF now 




Civil Conversations

By Harry Thorne
The Indypendent
November 17, 2008

Derrick Jensen’s 2006 epic Endgame was a rambling but provocative dissection of the environmental and political ills of civilization. Surveying the damage wrought by civilization, from dammed rivers to genocide, Jensen presented his solution: in order to save the planet, committed activists should work to bring down civilization in its entirety by “any means necessary.”

Many readers who consider themselves politically radical may find Jensen’s conclusion both dangerous and preposterous, yet Jensen has an avid army of fans who pack auditoriums to hear him speak and a popular but closely guarded internet forum.

However, even these fans may find themselves slightly disappointed by Jensen’s latest book, How Shall I Live My Life?: On Liberating the Earth from Civilization, which consists of previously published interviews conducted by Jensen between 1999 and 2001. The time lag between the interviews and the book’s publication can make the collection seem out of date. In an interview with the anti-car activist Jan Lundberg, much time is devoted to the topic of peak oil, yet we learn nothing new about our current energy crisis and oil prices that have oscillated wildly in the last few months.

But despite the lag, there are ideas of lasting value in How Shall I Live My Life, even for those who reject Jensen’s all-or-nothing approach to civilization. The book presents an appealing diversity of voices, each articulating a different vision of environmental activism. The interviewees include Thomas Berry, an environmental activist and Catholic monk; Jesse Wolf Hardin, the founder of the radical group Earth First!; Vine Deloria, the late American-Indian activist and writer; and Carolyn Raffensperger, a lawyer who campaigns against corporate abuse of public safety.

One of the most engaging interviews is with Kathleen Dean Moore, a philosopher based at Oregon State University. Moore passionately argues against mechanical and abstract thinking in favor of a deeper connection with place. “What I am recommending,” she says, “is a way of life that is rich with noticing. Caring. Remembering. Embracing. Rejoicing in … the smell of a child’s hair, or the color of storm light.” This and other interviews serve as useful introductions to the work of less-known environmental thinkers.

This book may also appeal to readers who are put off by the hubris of the anti-civilization movement, of which Jensen is a leading figure. Jensen’s Endgame may be a radical manifesto, but its vision of small groups of committed foot-soldiers working to bring about a natural utopia is also strangely old-fashioned. Endgame’s emphasis on revolution and vanguards seems out of touch with the democratic spirit of recent anti-capitalist and environmental activism. The diversity of How Shall I Live My Life, on the other hand, seems more in tune with this activism. Despite a subtitle of Liberating Earth from Civilization, most of the interviewees do not seem interested in a tactically impossible struggle against a supposedly monolithic civilization. Instead, they promote diverse paths toward a deep connection to place and nature — a connection that could lay the basis for significant social transformation.

Buy this book now | Download e-Book now | Back to Derrick Jensen's Author Page




P2P Foundation Review of For All the People

Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America 
By Kevin Carson
P2P Foundation

Curl’s history of cooperative and communal movements in America is set against the backdrop of one overpowering trend:  the transition from an almost completely self-employed work force at the time of Independence, to a present-day labor market in which self-employed workers are almost as much of an anomaly as free blacks ca. 1850.  Two hundred years ago, wage labor was viewed as a form of bondage, something submitted to only when absolutely unavoidable.  The majority of wage laborers were apprentices and journeymen, who viewed their status as a temporary stage on the way to the normal status of self-employment.

In the course of his history, Curl stands on its head a great deal of the pious “received account” most of us learned in the public schools’ American history classes.

Most of us are probably at least vaguely familiar with Bradford’s account of Plymouth Plantation, for example.  But from Curl’s version, unless you’re really good at reading between the lines, you’d never get any idea of the role that either class struggle, or the designs of a corporation called the Merchant Adventurers, played in the story.  The Mayflower Compact, as it has been passed down to us from Bradford via the Received Account, was the inspiring first example of American self-government through a written charter.  What’s left out of this edifying account, as Curl points out, is that most of the emigrants to Plymouth were indentured servants; signing onto  a Compact en route to America, which declared the signatories free and equal, amounted to a servile insurrection.  The free workers sided with the indentured servants, and the masters—presented with a fait accompli—signed the Compact in the face of necessity ( p. 21).

We also get, from the second-hand version of Bradford’s account adopted by American political culture,  a patronizing narrative in which those idealistic Puritans at first attempted to “have all things in common” (just like the primitive church in the Book of Acts!), but then abandoned their primitive communism in the face of reality (and starvation) by farming their own family plots individually.  What you might not guess from Bradford’s account is that this edifying tale of misguided idealism was actually the story of a peasants’ revolt against the manorial authority of the Merchant Adventurers.  What actually happened was that, in the original articles of incorporation, the colonists were permitted to work two days a week on their own family plots, and the other four days would work on the Corporation’s land as its employees.  The Merchant Adventurers soon changed these terms, fearing that the colonists would devote most of their effort to their own plots and do as little as they could get away with on company land.  Instead, the colonists were to work six days a week for the Merchant Adventurers, and be provisioned by the company.  To the colonists, most of them peasants from the open fields of Nottinghamshire, this amounted to reducing them to serfdom.  Their decision to work the land for themselves was the kind of land reform that would have gotten them slaughtered by CIA-backed death squads, if they’d done it today.  In other words the story, rather than being a simple morality play that foreshadowed the 20th century revolt against Soviet collectivism, was more a reflection of the peasantry’s relations with the landed classes in the old country.  The Plymouth colonists were, for all intents and purposes, tearing down an Enclosure—more like the Diggers on St. George’s Hill than kulaks (pp. 20-21).

There’s a great deal of interesting information in Curl’s book, like his account of the vibrant American working class movement from the turn of the 20th century to WWI and its liquidation under A. Mitchell Palmer, or attempts at self-organized alternatives to capitalism (like the Unemployed Exchange Organization) during the Great Depression.  The countereconomic networks of consumer cooperatives, alternative newspapers, rural communes, free schools, and the like that arose in the 1960s and 1970s are also fascinating.

But my main focus is on Curl’s book at it relates to matters of interest to the P2P and Open Manufacturing communities.  The most important generalization I derived from the book is the importance of capital outlay requirements in determining the viability of self-employment and cooperative employment.

The first major wave of worker cooperatives was under the auspices of the National Trades’ Union in the 1830s (p.4).  Like the Owenite trade union cooperatives in Britain, they were mostly undertaken in craft employments for which the basic tools of the trade were relatively inexpensive.

From the beginning, worker cooperatives were a frequent resort of striking workers.  In 1768 twenty striking journeyman tailors in New York, the first striking wage-workers in American history,  set up their own cooperative shop.  Journeyman carpenters striking for a ten-hour day in Philadelphia, in 1761, formed a cooperative (with the ten-hour day they sought) and undercut their master’s price by 25%; they disbanded the cooperative when they went back to work.  The same was done by shoemakers in Baltimore, 1794, and Philadelphia, 1806 (p. 33).

This was a common pattern in early American labor history, and the organization of cooperatives moved from being purely a strike tactic to providing an alternative to wage labor (p. 34). It was feasible because most forms of production were done by groups of artisan laborers using hand tools.  By the 1840s, the rise of factory production with expensive machinery had largely put an end to this possibility.  As the prerequisites of production became increasingly unafforable, the majority of the population was relegated to wage labor with machinery owned by someone else (pp. 35, 47).

The corporate transformation of the economy was a revolution imposed from above.   A high-volume, centralized railroad network was key to the creation of a national corporate manufacturing economy—and in this the state played an indispensable role.  This included the land grants, which included not only rights of way, but also enormous swaths of land (amounting to “a full half of all the Western lands,” all told) on either side whose appreciating value was intended to serve as a source of capital.  But it didn’t even stop there.  The railroads also used their political muscle to secure the direct appropriation of capital from the taxpayers.  And on top of that, once in operation they used their rate-setting power to promote the concentration of industry, simultaneously gouging small farmers and urban consumers, while giving volume rebates to large manufacturers (p. 78).

An alliance of industrial plutocrats and southern landed oligarchs seized political power in the Compromise of 1877 (otherwise known as the Great Betrayal).  In return for ending military reconstruction in the South, and handing power in the region back to the prewar planter class, the corporate oligarchy secured southern backing for its power grab at the national level.  The southern states switched enough electoral votes to the Hayes ticket to overturn a decisive Democratic majority (pp. 86-87).

The top-down imposition of the factory system, the seizure of national power by Gilded Age plutocrats, and the resistance to it by workers and farmers, amounted for all intents and purposes to a civil war.

The corporatization of the American society provoked an all-out resistance by artisan laborers, factory workers, and small farmers—together called the “Great Upheaval” by Curl.  The first and largest wave of the Great Upheaval was associated with the Grange and the Knights of Labor.  The Greenback-Labor Party elected fifteen congressmen in 1878, and supported legislation at the state level regulating the freight rates charged by the state-created and state-subsidized railroads.

The railroad barons and bankers, fighting a ruthless counter-revolution, refused credit or shipping to Grange enterprises (p. 79).  They viewed the Knights of Labor and its network of cooperatives as a serious threat to the whole capitalist system (p. 93).

The Knights won their biggest victory in the Union Pacific Railroad strike of 1885, forcing Jay Gould to recognize the union and arbitrate all labor disputes.  The ensuing influx of new members swelled Knights of Labor ranks to nearly a million in 1886 (p. 102).

The two most dramatic confrontations of the Great Upheaval, the railroad strike of 1877 and the eight-hour day movement, were defeated by decisive state action.  The railroad strike, which turned into a nationwide general strike, was broken (“to prevent national insurrection”) by Hayes’ troops (p. 87).  The eight-hour day movement, which rose to a crescendo in nationwide general strike of 1886, culminated in the post-Haymarket repression.  That reaction, comparable to the Red Scare under Woodrow Wilson, saw the near-total liquidation of the labor movement and full-scale war against the Knights of Labor cooperatives.  Railroads refused to carry cooperatives’ products, manufacturers refused to sell them machinery, wholesalers refused them raw materials, and banks refused credit.  The local community support on which the Knights depended was undermined by a press campaign against labor radicalism and “anarchism,” much like the Red-baiting hysteria under A. Mitchell Palmer thirty years later (pp. 106-107).

Most attempts at worker-organized manufacturing, during the Great Upheaval, failed on account of the capital outlays required. For example, when manufacturers refused to sell farm machinery to the Grangers at wholesale prices, the Nebraska Grange undertook its own design and manufacturing of machinery.  (How’s that for a parallel to modern P2P ideas?)  Its first attempt, a wheat head reaper, sold at half the price of comparable models and drove down prices on farm machinery in Nebraska.  The National Grange planned a complete line of farm machinery, but most Grange manufacturing enterprises failed to raise the large sums of capital needed (p. 77).

The Knights of Labor cooperatives were on shaky ground in the best of times.  Many of them were founded during strikes, started with “little capital and obsolescent machinery,” and lacked the capital to invest in modern machinery.  Subjected to economic warfare by organized capital, the network of cooperatives disintegrated (p. 107).

The economy  today is experiencing a revolution as profound as the corporate transformation of the late 19th century.  The main difference today is that, for material reasons, the monopolies on which corporate rule depends are becoming unenforceable.  Another revolution, based on P2P and micromanufacturing, is sweeping society on the same scale as did the corporate revolution of 150 years ago.  But the large corporations today are in the same position that the Grange and Knights of Labor were in the Great Upheaval back then, fighting a desperate, futile rearguard action, and doomed to be swept under by the tidal wave of history.

The worker cooperatives organized in the era of artisan labor paralleled, in many ways, the forms of work organization that are arising today.  Networked organization, crowdsourced credit and the implosion of capital outlays required for physical production, taken together, are recreating the same conditions that made artisan cooperatives feasible in the days before the factory system.  In the artisan manufactories that prevailed into the early 19th century, most of the physical capital required for production was owned by the work force; artisan laborers could walk out and essentially take the firm with them in all but name.  Likewise, today, the collapse of capital outlay requirements for production in the cultural and information fields (software, desktop publishing, music, etc.) has created a situation in which human capital is the source of most book value for many firms;  consequently, workers are able to walk out with their human capital and form “breakaway firms,” leaving their former employers as little more than hollow shells.  And the rise of cheap garage manufacturing machinery (a Fab Lab with homebrew CNC tools costing maybe two months’ wages for a semi-skilled worker) is, in its essence, a return to the days when low physical capital costs made worker cooperatives a viable alternative to wage labor.

The first Great Upheaval was defeated by the need for capital.  The second one will destroy the old system by making capital superfluous.

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Peter Kuper Reviewed by the Daily Crosshatch

By Brian Heater
The Daily Crosshatch

A sketchbook is a secret thing, a collection of unfinished and often times abandoned ideas never intended for public consumption—at least not in their current state. It’s a private space for honing one’s craft and workshopping, separating good ideas from those best left unexplored

Over the years, these parameters have loosened, particularly in the comics community, where the sketchbooks of artists like Robert Crumb and Chris Ware have been collected and bound and put on store shelves next to their most meticulously crafted works. While subject to a good deal of cherry picking and editorial oversight, these collected sketchbooks still hold a similar appeal as their predecessors, offering a still relatively candid glimpse into their creators’ thought process.

The whole space is complicated a bit further with the introduction of the “sketchbook diary,” a book, which, while lacking some of the polish of a more deliberately produced title, often feels as though it were conceived of as being a marketable title from its inception.

It’s hard to say precisely what Peter Kuper’s motives were in the creation of Diario de Oaxaca, but given the amount of work clearly invested in nearly ever page, it seems rather likely that, fairly early on in the process, it became clear that, given the right publisher, the work would eventually be released for public consumption.

But while Kuper’s art often has a relatively finished feel to it (compared, at least, to more traditional sketchbooks), a sense of experimentation and adventure pulses through the journal’s pages, as the artist immerses himself and his work in the culture and art that surround him during his family’s Mexican exodus. Diario de Oaxaca is a constantly unfurling collage.

As an artist, Kuper is a stranger in a strange land, attempting to adapt his art to his surroundings, all the while sprinkling in photos of the city’s world famous protest wall art and other local phenomenon. Like a true notable outsider, sometimes he blends in seamlessly, and other times we’re witness to an aesthetic culture clash. Where Kuper truly succeeds, however, are in those moments when Oaxaca’s natural and manmade beautify serve as the building blocks for a piece that remains staunchly Kuperesque.

Even when Kuper’s experiments prove less successful, however, the book is a downright stunning—and thoroughly engaging—read. Proper sketchbook or no, Diario de Oaxaca is one of the strongest travelogues this medium has produced in recent memory.

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More on Paper Politics

PM Press is proud to announce the arrival of Paper Politics: Socially Engaged Printmaking Today. As Josh MacPhee states at the opening of the book: "Paper Politics started out as an exhibition of political prints, and has now taken the form of this book, but it has always also been a project of building communities." Here are some sneak previews from each of the book's sections.

REPRESSION

 

AGGRESSION

RESISTANCE

EXISTENCE





Interview with Tomoyuki Hoshino

Tantalizing excerpts from the novel's extras, we know you will enjoy! Here translator Adrienne Carey Hurley interviews the award-winning Japanese author Tomoyuki Hoshino. This is his first book to be published in English.

Since his literary debut in 1997, Tomoyuki Hoshino has published twelve books on subjects ranging from ‘terrorism’ to queer/trans community formations; from the exploitation of migrant workers to journalistic ethics; and from the Japanese emperor system to neoliberalism. He is also well known in Japan for his nonfiction essays on politics, society, the arts, and sports, particularly soccer.

Hurley: Before PM embraced this novel, it took us a while to find a publisher for the English translation. Along the way, we found a few professionals in the U.S. publishing world who loved the first chapter, but were bothered by the ending. We even were asked to change the ending or publish only the first chapter. I was shocked to learn that some noted contemporary Japanese writers have agreed to have the endings of their works changed for the U.S. (and by extension English-language) marketplace. While I shared my frustrations and thoughts on all this with you and we both refused such changes, I never asked you what it felt like for you to be faced with that kind of response and request.

Hoshino: It felt like Iraq or Iran.

"The Middle East is really selling now!"

"Well, let's see.... You're right. It sure is. But Iraq is a little hard to understand. I think it will sell better if you change Iraq. Can you change Iraq?"

"You're joking, right?"

"No, I'm serious. Change it."

It felt like that. I'm very glad my work wasn't changed.

"I changed Iraq, but it's still not selling that well."

"Maybe you didn't change it right. Yes, that's it. It would have been better if you'd changed Iran. Try changing Iran."

"But if we go that far, it's not really going to be the Middle East anymore."

"It's okay. As long as it sells. Alright then? Let's change Iran."

Hurley: My students and I like to discuss what doesn't appear in this novel, like the U.S. (Perhaps our inquiries are structured by the arrogance of U.S. imperialism and its claims to universal relevance.) Aside from the aquarium scene from The Lady from Shanghai, almost no mention is made of anything related to what my students call "the Western world," and they like to speculate, "where did it go?" After all, much of the modern and contemporary Japanese literature they encounter invokes "the West" more overtly. In writing a novel that addresses questions of borders, sovereignty, migration, and security involving nations, what did the absence of the U.S. mean for you? Does the U.S. empire have to disappear (or be abolished) before the Japanese emperor system can?

Hoshino: Yukio Mishima and Yasunari Kawabata wrote a number of "Japanese" works. Foreign (especially Western) readers experienced these works as "very Japanese" and proclaimed you could find "Japanese beauty" in them. This was to be expected. Mishima and Kawabata depicted images of Japan that Western eyes wanted to see.

But Japanese readers who were aware of such assessments followed suit, saying these works were written with a sense of "Japanese beauty that even a Westerner could admire" and that "Japan had the kind of culture written about in these novels."

This was how value judgments about "Japaneseness" were shaped.

Foreign readers who only find value in the first chapter of this novel must still have those Western eyes.

Paradoxically, foreign readers today seem to respond to Japanese literature with a lot of "American-ness" as universal and, at the same time, as "Japanese." Perhaps "Japanese" novels subtly and gently exoticize American problems.

When I read that sort of novel, I feel like I'm reading fantasy fiction and wonder, "Where is this tale from?"

I didn't intend to eliminate American references from LHK. It's not explicit, but I think of it as covered by America's shadow. The effort to put out the nationalist fire in the first chapter is also an effort to get out from under the shadow of America. After all, Japan's reality after the end of World War II and ever since the American Occupation has been that of "America above the Emperor."

Hurley: I love the setting of the second and third chapters. The remote mountain lodge calls up images not only of idyllic mountain resorts, but also of the Aum movement's headquarters, the Chichibu Rebellion of 1884, the Umemura Rebellion in Hida, the Asama Sanso Incident, and especially (at least to me) United Red Army (Rengô sekigun) figures such as Hiroko Nagata. But the setting's significance isn't limited to Japanese histories and contexts. Iroha's use of the phrase "reservation," themes of self-governance and autonomy, and the title of the final chapter, drawing on Luis Buñuel's 1951 film Subida al cielo, invoke multiple landscapes and histories. Where did your own journey into the mountains of Lonely Hearts Killer begin and what do the mountains mean to you?

Hoshino: My first clue for the secluded mountain setting for Iroha and the others came from Buñuel's film Subida al Cielo ("Ascent to Heaven" in Japanese). The mountain reaching up to heaven is a threshold place that carries an image of death mixed with utopia. In the first chapter, Mikoto et. al. develop the vision of everyone dying for a utopian society. Ascension or "Ascent to Heaven" is the name for precisely this vision. However, the people holed up on the mountain are Iroha and others who commit to living and try to distance themselves, running away from Mikoto et. al.'s vision. I wanted to put the brakes on the escalation, and this ironical situation effectively neutralized the vision of death and utopia

That was the impetus for the mountain, which also relates to an image in the third chapter. You ascend from the mountain and migrate to a different place; but even though you cross the border, you aren't entering the world of the dead, but moving to another kind of life. I set up the mountain as that kind of three-dimensional threshold. Iroha and the others are definitely holed up on the mountain, but the mountain isn't a dead-end. Depending on your changing perspective, it links to a different latitude or culture. Before they were surrounded, they had the possibility of coexistence, not "unification." Underlying that possibility is an image of a reservation with autonomy. I think the groups of rebels who historically entrenched themselves in the mountains had similar visions.

One other factor was Japanese mountain worship. In Japanese animism, each mountain is a different god. With the arrival of the emperor system, they were forcibly unified. However, in this novel the people who look like okami (“Majesties”) "come down" from the mountaintop. In other words, they stop being okami. They abdicate "unification."

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Owen Hill on the Professor of Pop

Owen Hill's the Incredible Double
The Professor of Pop
October 16, 2009

Owen Hill's first novel, The Chandler Apartments, was a page-turner, read literally in one frenzied Saturday morning. Declaration of (minor) interest: Owen is a friend of a friend (& once kindly gave me discount @ Moe's but don't tell anyone that.)

Here's the opening para from his new novel The Incredible Double, words that will draw you in like a punter to a strip club -- ok then problem drinker to a dive bar -- if you read them aloud:

+++

"My '87 Tercel is in great shape, only a hundred thousand miles and almost new everything, but it does have trouble with the Bay Area hills. Coming out of the tunnel on 24, leaving Berkeley, heading toward the suburbs, I was losing speed and the SUVs were losing patience. I shifted it down into second and wagged my middle finger. My best friend Marvin says that driving slow in a small car is a revolutionary act. Maybe's he right. A woman in a Hummer, no lie, who probably weighed in at 97 pounds, half of it hair, gave me a look that could kill and, waved her phone at me. When you think of spoiled little brats in military vehicles careening through the 'burbs, you know how rotten the twentieth-century will be."

+++

Most important 2 words: no lie. That gives you the genre for cert & tells you that while our narrator has some ironic distance on Marvin, they are perhaps (or were) ideological cousins. Owen isn't afraid of cheap shots if they're funny & tell you something ("half of it hair") because he knows he's been freed by genre. The prose never drifts into agitprop but it's constantly hinted at it, as if this were an Op-Ed piece in Socialist Worker, written by a poet with an acute sense of humour. The first para immediately sets up the dystopian world we are about to enter but you don't feel trapped in it exactly. You just know that the mise-en-scene for wherever our story & our narrator are headed is going to be "rotten".

And this rotten-ness dear voyeur from cyberspace is happening right here right now in river city as Berkeley gets increasingly comfy with being a rich town (a security guard asked Susan to move her bag from where it might be stolen last night @ about 6pm... on a main throughfare in mf Rockridge) where even the south side (site of the Historic POP Homeland) has monster homes and monster cars and of course therefore monster peeps.

Like The Chandler Apartments, The Incredible Double captures a time & a place perfectly: here, now. But that would be boring because it would be too obvious, so Hill never forgets that you make it interesting (& significant) if you pepper the story with nostalgia for times passed.

He does, after all, drive an '87 Tercel.

Raymond Williams
once described literature as a record of lived experience which is of course not always the case since neither lived nor experience are really the correct terms for a lot of contemporary fiction. But in the case of the savvy crime-thriller, if you can set the noir against the nostalgia then you have one powerful vehicle (if you're a poet) for evoking the time & the place that is the fag-end of Berkeley as we now know it.

And anyway, whether or not you care about that (& you should), Owen Hill has written another page-turner.

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