Embracing The Accidental: A Book and Music Adventure

Embracing The Accidental: A Book and Music Adventure on indiegogo

Two indie writers, a music maven, and a wily photographer take to the road to redefine the concept of a book tour.

Rami Shamir (TRAIN TO POKIPSE) and m. craig (The Narrows) are part of a new generation of writers who are creating different models of publishing and redefining what it means to be an author. They’re teaming up with Lynn Casper of Homoground—the premiere queer radio show that brings together the work of LGBT musicians—and Brooklyn artist Magda Rachwal—who will be documentating the journey—to break new ground in independent publishing.

A New Type of Author

Independent publishing, the unprecedented literary phenomenon by which authors are starting up publishing companies and taking on all responsibilities for their work’s printing, publicity, and dissemination, is quickly becoming an avenue for writers who don’t fit into the limited confines of conventional publishing. Unlike self-publishing—which in recent years has gained traditional acceptance (with a self-published title reaching the annual top ten list of legendary New York Times reviewer, Michiko Kakutani, in 2012)—independently published authors are molding a new Renassaince-style vision of twenty-first century authorship. Part publisher, part writer, the independent author relies heavily on strong community support and exacts an openness to experimentation that hasn’t been seen in publishing since the sixities.

Separately of each other, we coordinated teams to create our own presses—Underground Editions for TRAIN TO POKIPSE and Papercut Press forThe Narrows—and became independently published authors. Through consistently selling out at indie bookstores around the nation and garnering acclaim for our work, we’ve already shown that independent publishing is something that can be successful, and that there’s room in the culture for a new type of author.

The Plan

With your support, we’re intending to embark on a two-month adventure that will go beyond the traditional book tour to include workshops on independent publishing and build a new distribution model based on personal connections with indie bookstores. Influenced by the established DIY spirit of indie music and looking to experiment with the conventional notion of a book reading, we plan to host queer dance parties and live performances with Homoground in select cities along the way. We’re currently booking for events in fifteen cities, including Durham, New Orleans, Austin, Kansas City, Bloomington, and Pittsburgh, as well as getting int ouch with the many bookstores that we’ll be stopping at in between events to expand the distribution network.

Workshops on Independent Publishing

In these workshops we’re going to talk about the nuts and bolts of becoming an independently published author. This includes practical applications in editing, business start-up, finding the right printer, book layout and design, guerilla marketing methods, assembling the right support team, finance, and distribution. We’ll also discuss alternative methods of DIY publishing and zine-based book creation.

Building a New Distribution Model 

It’s time to establish a nationwide system of distribution that makes sense for indie authors. That system will prove to be very much like the one used by Barney Rosset and all the greats of American publishing—you get in a car and go build a relationship with the people at the bookstore in person. This tour has the potential to reintroduce a philosophy in the distribution of books and the dissemination of information, a philosophy that’s much more spirited in classic American optimism, where anything is possible and everyone is included.

Experimenting with the Conventional Concept of a Book Reading

Homoground will draw on its nationwide network of musicians to curate shows featuring local bands and DJs. Other than pairing with live performances, our readings will also be accompanied by puppetry and visual art by Magda Rachwal. Stepping away from the separation inherent in a conventional book reading, this is going to present us with the opportunity to bridge the gap between author and reader.

Budget

gas (based on 25m/gallon with gas at $3.8) – $1520

promotional materials – $560

food & lodging – $1000

emergency car repair fund – $1000

* Funds exceeding our goal of $4,080 will help us bring other authors and musicians to events in select cities.

Embracing the Accidental

In 1990, Barney Rosset—the famed founder of Grove Press and publisher of authors such as Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, and William S. Burroughs—gave a lecture at Syracuse University, where he discussed one of the driving forces behind his storied accomplishments in literary history: “I had wanted to publish Faulkner and Hemingway, but unfortunately other people were there ahead of me. I wanted to publish Norman Mailer, but he never offered anything to Grove, so I had to put in my paint box what accidentally came along. And so on to a pattern of the accidental. First, you have to set up for it…. eventually you can discern a pattern…. and finally you learn how to choose wisely…. The Autobiography of Malcolm X had accidentally fallen into our hands after Malcolm’s assassination. William Burroughs, Hubert Selby, and Jack Kerouac also had accidentally fallen into our hands.” In this spirit of openness, we are setting out to embrace the accidental, fortified by Barney Rosset’s example that if we are open to new possibilities, untold magic can occur.

One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things. 

                         Henry Miller

Our warmest thanks to all the wonderful people in our community that helped us with this Kickstarter: Margarita Shalina, Anjelica Young, Carly Howard, Arthur Nersesian, Frances Rex, Allie Falco, Katie Anderson, Bryn Jackson, Jules Persaud, Kim Harris, Adam Void, Chelsea Ragan, Sarah Lerner, Amela Parcic, Tyler Phillips, Kai Cameron, Spoonbill and Sugartown Booksellers, Molasses Books, and Flown for recording a great song.

A Reading to Celebrate Parasite by Stephen Boyer & Train to Pokipse by Rami Shamir

Stephen Boyer is the author of Parasite (Publication Studio 2012), GHOSTS (bent boy books 2010), and they compiled “The Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology.” Their work has been published in many anthologies, zines and art galleries: 2nd Floor Projects, “Madder Love: Queer Men and the Precincts of Surrealism” (Rebel Satori Press 2008), Poets Theater in San Francisco, Shampoo Poetry, and Try. This past fall they’ve also helped curate GRRRLS ON FILM! and they maintain the blog minorprogression.com.

“Stephen Boyer’s novel Parasite is exciting, well-crafted and so utterly alive, you half expect it to shake you off and fly away as you turn its pages. Josh is the sort of boy who experiences nearly everything through his ass, so he’s not your usual sort of narrator, but if you’ve ever sat on anything weird, or anything splendid, this book will get to you just as it got to me.”
– Kevin Killian

Rami Shamir is a Zuccotti occupier and novelist. His work has appeared in Brooklyn Rail, Evergreen Review, SPANK Magazine and Adbusters. He is the author of Train To Pokipse (Underground Editions).

“TRAIN TO POKIPSE is a Catcher in the Rye for the new century, and Rami Shamir is an authentic literary voice for a new lost generation. POKIPSE, much like The Catcher in the Rye , will be a powwow of the alienated (elite), where America’s outsider youth can gather to infuse the vitality of their life for decades to come.”
– Barney Rosset

MONSTER: Get America OUT of the Middle East!

This piece stems from a conversation I had with my cousin about his time in the Middle East. I wrote this as a way of coping with the information he gave me. And I wrote it to read at Dixon Place, March 12th, when I read with Rami Shamir. The morning of March 12th, news headlines broke the story about the lone soldier that had gone and assassinated 16 innocent Afghanistan civilians. The civilians were living within a mile of a U.S. Military Base, believing the U.S. Military was there to keep them safe. Nine of the victims were children. The soldier shot many point blank in the head and then set their bodies on fire. For them, I write this and continually mourn. And I write this for my cousin, rest your young and weary bones and look to the light, I love you.

I would like for the world to join and help me carry a burden.

A grave and dark secret I would like not to be a secret

It’s a burden we all share for we are all here and we should all be aware that there are great atrocities happening.

And I don’t have the answers but I would like for you to understand that I have a cousin that I grew up with, when we were children he would come and stay with my family and we loved him like he was a part of our nuclear family. And he grew up poor and he grew up fast and his father believed in the military and his father pushed him to join and because my cousin didn’t believe he had a future, he listened as his dad indoctrinated him into believing in Regan’s speech that the only way for there to be peace is for everyone else to surrender to American might and my cousin is part of the muscle we flex every single day.

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My cousin and I spoke about his time in the Middle East and he explained that a gentleman never tells how many people they have murdered during war.

But he did tell me that he does look into the faces of those he has murdered.

He explained, “Don’t worry, I laid waste to plenty of godless heathens…”

He told me he picks up their heads and looks at their heads as trophies.

And he fought off a starving dog that was trying to eat the brains of one of the freshly murdered Hajis my cousin says must all be killed.

He said, “It’s jungle rules brother, only the fittest will survive and I can pierce the flesh of the Gods…”

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I grieve to think someone so close to me could ever think such racism; such horror is cause for celebration.

And I tried to tell him that he’s traumatized.

No young person should ever have to think such thoughts nor be put in such a situation.

And it’s not his fault.

If we lived in a world in which people didn’t have to worry about trivial things like food and housing that really aren’t so trivial but really we have enough food and housing to make sure everyone could be comfortable.

Maybe if we didn’t make the health care industry a for profit industry, maybe if people didn’t make money on someone dying of cancer, maybe then my cousin wouldn’t have felt like the only way to exist was to become a monster.

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And I want to scream.

I want to scream because this knowledge is permanent.

The deaths he called into being have scarred him and the families of the dead and now they’re all I can think of, I can’t see beyond my cousins smoking barrel.

I can’t see a way out of this as I know he’s going to continue to perpetuate this extreme assault on love and everything I have given myself wholly to.

I want to scream because maybe then people will see that I’m waving an intergalactic flag for help and whether it is us or aliens or god that saves us from this extremely stark reality we have been so overcome by, I do not care, I just want, no demand, that my cousin and all of his brothers and sisters in stripes become so enamored, so overwhelmed by the goodness of love that they are able to overcome this trauma that has replaced their minds with an endless void with no window to escape out. And in that darkness in which they see themselves as gods, as masters of war, there is no truth, there is no walking away from this clean and youthful with a sprightly air.

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After learning this it’s hard to feel okay or maintain any sense of joy about all the time we spent together.

I don’t know if I can perform any action that is not concerned whole heartedly with mourning.

He was this little kid that’d sleep in my bed and beg me to take him to the beach and teach him how to surf, or take him fishing, and he always complained when we didn’t catch anything, and I’d put him in headlocks the way his half-brothers had done to me, before they moved away to live with their mom in Utah and I helped him understand why his family was broken because we were boys, children, and that’s what we believed children do and we wrestled and caught snakes and lizards and we locked them in cages because I didn’t yet understand its more beautiful to watch a lizard bask in the sun on a rock or to see a snake scurry away free and I didn’t then know freedom like I now know so I couldn’t teach him.

But I was there when he found booze and later weed and blow and he learned to fight but he wouldn’t fight me he’d just tell me the stupidest stories and I just told him, “I love you buddy”

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I was always his “hero”, the person he looked up to, his older cousin, the person that he loved, that he trusted, that inspired him.

And he is a murderer. His act is a crime against humanity

And I feel like I caused these murderers, because I didn’t teach him.

And now, this murderous reality, this memory of fighting a dog for brains, for a trophy to show the grandkids as we reminisce about killing.

Someone pull out a megaphone and tell the world, “We are here to kill you! We are here to kill you! We are here to kill you!

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And my cousin is not alone.

He’s not the only one.

We’ve pissed on the dead, we’ve burned the Holy Koran, we’ve made a cartoon of Allah, praise be his name, we’ve told a whole country of people that we want to free them and then we sent our psychologically wounded children to their doors with guns.

Children that have only known how to hate, children we neglected, children we told must learn how to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

We gave them guns and pointed our fingers at a group of impoverished people and we labeled them terrorists and our children couldn’t understand their religions and customs so they shot them.

And pulled off their heads, and fought dogs for the brains because they wanted every bloodied membrane, and they held them high and delighted and said, “Look! Are you proud of me yet?”

Nowhere like POKIPSE: Stephen Boyer and Rami Shamir celebrate the release of TRAIN TO POKIPSE

On March 12th, at Dixon Place, 7:30pm (free), Rami Shamir and I will be celebrating the long-awaited release of Rami Shamir’s TRAIN TO POKIPSE, the novel which legendary publisher Barney Rosset calls “a Catcher in the Rye for the new century,” the author will be reading selections from the book.

The historical details behind TRAIN TO POKIPSE’s publication have by now become legendary. Lawsuits, arrests, Corporate censorship, adamant support from leading figures in the American counterculture, all against the backdrop of the unfolding turmoil of its young author’s life, have made this a publication worth celebrating. Immediately after its recent release from the new imprint, Underground Editions, POKIPSE found itself to be the last book that legendary publisher Barney Rosset (the book’s editor and the author’s beloved mentor) would ever work on, excepting his own. (Rosset is the author of a soon-to-be released autobiography, tentatively titled “The Subject Is Left Handed.”)

I will be reading selections from my novel PARASITE and will probably talk about some personal, weird, fucked-up but important going-ons.. Oh, and Rami and I recently talked about his book and the life/death of Barney Rosset. If you haven’t heard it yet, do yourself a favor and click play.

Interview with Rami Shamir on the passing of his dear friend Barney Rosset and his new book TRAIN TO POKIPSE

Beautiful, tender, very personal interview with Rami Shamir about his new book TRAIN TO POKIPSE and the recent passing of his dear friend, mentor, and the great American publisher, Barney Rosset, creator of Grove Press and champion of Free Speech. If you’re in New York City, Rami suggests you pick up a copy from and always support, St Mark’s Bookshop. You can also buy it directly from the publisher, Underground Editions.

“TRAIN TO POKIPSE is a Catcher in the Rye for the new century, and Rami Shamir is an authentic literary voice for a new lost generation. POKIPSE, much like The Catcher in the Rye , will be a powwow of the alienated (elite), where America’s outsider youth can gather to infuse the vitality of their life for decades to come.”
Barney Rosset, founder of Grove Press and legendary publisher of Henry Miller, William S. Burroughs, and Samuel Beckett

“I love TRAIN TO POKIPSE.”
Gary Indiana, author of The Shanghai Gesture, Rent Boy, and Do Everything in the Dark

“Sensitivity does not come easy, but when it arrives it surrounds you entirely. When you finish this book you will be surrounded by love, sensitivity, and hopefully a little bit of wisdom. Live on! I did. Thank you, Rami.”
Holly Woodlawn, Andy Warhol Superstar and author of Low Life in High Heels

“Reading TRAIN TO POKIPSE is like reading Dickens. Underneath this contemporary coming of age story is the same social analysis, the same investigation of lives lived and being lived, and the same kind of empathetic heart that listens to the world and reflects it in crisp and unexpected prose. Here we find the cracked lyricism of the street: the voice of the outsider reporting on the dispossessed. Rami Shamir has a beautiful and distinctive voice, and he is just starting.”
Penny Arcade, playwright, performance artist, and author of Bad Reputation: Performances, Essays, Interviews

“Rami Shamir is rapidly becoming the conscience of the No Generation. He is a master of that frozen moment when the eaters see what they are really eating. Gayer than Ginsberg, blacker than Kerouac, itchier than Whitman, slithering darkly toward the Billyberg Omphalos, Rami Shamir loads his pen with jizz, blood and drugs. A Nantucket sleigh ride up the rosy rectum of Generation N. Keep an eye on Rami Shamir.”
Phoebe Legere, composer and performer

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