Wednesday, November 06, 2019

"What's Wrong with Masculinity?" The DEBUT episode of "What's Good, Man?" (Podcast and Transcript)

"I want to find a different way to be." - tony the scribe



This is our very first episode! We'll be releasing new episodes every two weeks. Find the full list of season one topics/titles here.

If you like it, please subscribe (on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, all the usual platforms). If you really like it, please feel free to leave a review, and spread the word- share a favorite quote, or ask a question, or just share the link; we'll be using the hashtag #WhatsGoodMan on Twitter and IG.

Also, we're having our very first LIVE episode recording tonight (Wednesday, November 6, 2019) at the UMN's Whole Music Club at 6pm. Swing through; we'll be talking about the future of masculinity. If you can't make it, don't worry-- the episode will be up here as well, eventually.

Here's the full transcript!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

"What's Good, Man?" Frequently-Asked Questions

Update: the first episode is out now!

photo by Martin Sheeks

“What’s Good, Man?” debuts on November 6 (with a live show the same date!), so technically we don’t yet have a lot of questions that are “frequently-asked.” But whatever. Here are our responses anyway. I’m Kyle. tony is tony.

Q: Oh you’re starting a podcast? That’s really cool and not cliche at all and even though the market is completely saturated I’m sure *yours* will succeed. What’s it about?

Kyle: It’s a podcast on men, masculinity, and culture. It’s especially for men who maybe haven’t had a ton of conversations about issues like toxic masculinity or patriarchy or whatever, and are just looking for a space to explore, to process, to grow.

tony: It seems like we’re all realizing that outdated stereotypes of masculinity are unfulfilling and wack, but haven’t quite figured out what comes next. The conversation can get stuck sometimes on where we’re at, rather than where we can go. So we decided to talk about it!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

THE ART OF TAKING THE L: New Video and Zine Bundle Available via Button Poetry!

"My earliest memory of masculinity is not a particle, it’s a wave. My earliest memory of masculinity is not a man, it’s a mask."



I am beyond excited to release this new project. Aside from the new video, I'm collaborating with Button Poetry to release this exclusive bundle of zines featuring the new poem, plus zines I've worked on over the past couple years (and a blank one so you can make your own!), a signed note, and a surprise sticker or two. There are only 250 bundles available, so go get 'em.


A few more thoughts:

On Zine-Making
Check out the ZINES link on this site for more information on each individual one, plus some background on the philosophy behind zine-making in general. One other note: these are all printed on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper, at a union shop here in MPLS called Smart Set.

On "The Art of Taking the L"
This poem/speech has gone through a ton of revisions, and may go through more. The original version of it was a commission- I was asked to share something at an event with a few hundred men in attendance, most of whom had not had a ton of conversations about “hegemonic masculinity” or whatever. So the piece is meant to be an entry point, a first step into these issues.

With that in mind, one specific impulse became clear. I knew that the piece couldn’t be judgy. It couldn’t be a “those guys over there are bad and these guys over here are good” kind of piece. It couldn’t be a commandment to act differently, because no one wants to listen to that. So instead, I tried to focus on the “commandments” that already exist, even if we don’t notice them. From that, the “narrative/counter-narrative” thread emerged. What stories do we tell about masculinity? About gender in general? What are the implications of those stories? Why do stories matter?

One could ask the same questions about race, class, nationality and citizenship, and a bunch of other identities. Maybe that’s a writing prompt. But especially today, we need to be paying attention to the stories being told to us... and the stories we’re telling.

On Connections To The "What's Good, Man?" Podcast
Of course, all of that relates directly to my OTHER new project, the upcoming podcast, "What's Good, Man?" with Tony the Scribe. If you're interested in this kind of critical masculinity, narrative/counter-narrative stuff, please check it out. We debut on Wednesday, November 6, and are having a LIVE episode recording that same evening at the UMN. Get details on all of that here.

Additional Resources, Poems, and Readings
The "The Art of Taking the L" zine includes the full text of the poem, plus a bank of discussion questions, plus a bunch of cool resources. I'll share those links here as well. Obviously, there are many more books and readings and poems that could be listed here, but part of making a zine is how you navigate the limited space. My thought is that these are a few resources that might be useful entry points. Feel free to add others in the comments!

ARTICLES AND VIDEOS AVAILABLE ONLINE:
• Relinquishing the Patriarchy: adrienne maree brown
• A Call to Men: Tony Porter
• Violence Against Women—It's a Men's Issue: Jackson Katz
• Don’t Blame Mental Illness for Mass Shootings; Blame Men: Laura Kiesel
• The Boys Are Not All Right: Michael Ian Black
• Queer and Trans 101 statement at www.reclaim.care
• The Mask You Live In and Tough Guise (documentaries)

BOOKS:
• Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics: bell hooks
• The Man They Wanted Me to Be: Jared Yates Sexton
• Not that Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture: Roxane Gay
• Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood: Carlos Andrés Gómez
• The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love: bell hooks
• Know My Name: Chanel Miller

POEMS:
• The Heart and the Fist: Rudy Francisco
• Masculinity So Fragile: FreeQuency
• Baby Brother: Javon Johnson
• I use my poetry to confront the violence against women: Elizabeth Acevedo
• Shrinking Women: Lily Myers
• Masculinity: Alex Luu & Jessica Romoff
• Genderlect: Donte Collins
• Ten Responses to the Phrase "Man Up": Guante
• Handshakes: Guante
• Find many more poems on this and other issues in this curated list.

FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

New Podcast! "What's Good, Man?" In Search of Healthy Masculinity


New project announcement! Get all the details, including episode titles and more, here.

The first season debuts on Wednesday, November 6. On that same date, we'll also be doing a LIVE recording that's free and open to the public. Here's the blurb and event page:

With episodes on men’s role in the feminist movement, how masculinity is portrayed in pop culture, healthy sexuality, and more, “What’s Good, Man?” is a soon-to-be-released podcast hosted by artist/activists Kyle "Guante" Tran Myhre and Tony the Scribe. This LIVE EPISODE RECORDING will focus on the future of masculinity: what might it look like in 10 years? Will it even exist in 100 years? What lessons can we learn from science fiction? What will it take for men to meaningfully contribute to a future free from gender violence, misogyny, and the kind of controlling, insecure masculinity that hurts so many people of all genders? Join us to discuss these topics and more.

More to come!

Friday, September 20, 2019

"There is no light at the end of this tunnel/ so it's a good thing we brought matches"

New over on Button Poetry's channel: an a capella rendition of my two verses from the song "Matches."



You may know it from the Sifu Hotman album, or from it being featured as the weather on an episode of Welcome to Night Vale. It's kind of a personal "mission statement," something that drives a lot of what I try to do. The full lyrics are available here.

The song wasn't written about the climate crisis, but let's talk about it.
I'm thinking about this song in the context of today's Global Climate Strike. Part of the song is about rejecting the narrative of the individual hero or revolutionary, and instead attempting to tap into something larger, something more communal, something more connected. Because when it comes to this work, individual action will not be enough. We need large-scale, sustainable policy change, the the mass movements that can drive that policy change. So that means joining organizations, donating to organizations, voting for candidates with bold plans to tackle the problem, pressuring the politicians who don't, and dreaming bigger.

And yeah, if I recycle, use less plastic, and pick up litter at the park on the way there, that's fine. But those actions are not a substitute for organizing. There's a reason the song ends with "it's a good thing we brought matches" and not "it's a good thing I brought matches."

Here in MN, today's climate strike is sponsored by a bunch of organizations that are worth a follow, from MN350, to TakeAction MN, to MN Youth Climate Strike and beyond. Check out the "hosted by" list at the event page.

I'd also recommend checking out poet Bernard Ferguson's fantastic "Hurricane Dorian Was a Climate Injustice" in the New Yorker, on the difference between unavoidable tragedy and avoidable injustice. Also, this profile of MN's own Isra Hirsi, who makes vital connections between environmental justice and racial justice.

"Who do you want to be at the end of the world?"
When it comes to the climate crisis, there's one essay I recommend everyone read: Kelly Hayes' "Saturday Afternoon Thoughts on the Apocalypse." THIS QUOTE:

"And there is nothing revolutionary about fatalism. I suppose the question is, are you antifascist? Are you a revolutionary? Are you a defender of decency and life on Earth? Because no one who is any of those things has ever had the odds on their side. But you know what we do have? A meaningful existence on the edge of oblivion. And if the end really is only a few decades away, and no human intervention can stop it, then who do you want to be at the end of the world?"

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

"More Or Less Live" Online Performance & #PowerAndPresence Campaign


EDIT: the show is over (though you can still watch it here), but you can still help power TruArtSpeaks' Power and Presence campaign to expand access to spoken word and Hip Hop arts programs: here!


Sunday, September 15, 2019 (from 3-5pm CT) via Facebook Live at the Guante page.

***HERE IS THE TRUARTSPEAKS DONATION LINK; today, I'm matching $500, so think of it as a way to double your donation!*** Donations can be made via PayPal, credit card, or mailing in a check (info at the link).

One of the most important functions of art is to build community. That’s often done in-person- you go to the open mic, or sign up for the poetry slam, or head to the local venue for a Hip Hop show. And that’s all beautiful, and TruArtSpeaks (an organization I’ve worked with for ten years now) does that work with so much power and intention.

I’m also interested, however, in expanding how that work can be done. Because honestly, I’m an introvert, and I don’t like crowds, and my schedule is hectic. Those factors can make it hard for me to show up to all the cool stuff I want to support. I know I’m not alone in that, either. So this month, I really wanted to throw a benefit show for TruArtSpeaks, but I also wanted to experiment a little, and maybe expand how we think about that kind of work.

So on Sunday, September 15, as the official kickoff to TruArtSpeaks’ “Power & Presence” campaign, we’re going to throw a virtual benefit show. I’m going to “go live” via my Facebook page, share some poems (including some brand new work), talk about new projects, answer some questions, and illuminate just why I think TruArtSpeaks’ work is so vital. If that can inspire a few extra people to donate to our campaign this year, I’m putting up $500 to match it. All of the money raised will go directly toward supporting the next generation of artists and leaders in Minnesota and beyond.

Here's the donation link, which works whether or not you check out the show.

Even if you can’t give now, though, you can still tune in and join the conversation. Because this campaign isn’t just about raising money; it’s about expanding the cypher and bringing more people into this work. Hope to see you then.

Monday, August 19, 2019

New Poem: "Pro-Life" + Other Poems on Reproductive Justice

"How loud do you have to be to put out a house fire with just your voice?"



Yeah, the title is in scare quotes. Hopefully that comes through. As I often do with two poems, I wanted to share a few notes on process, and then some poems by other writers that tackle the topic in different ways.

A Few Notes on Process
This is a poem about a specific issue, but it's also a poem that is exploring a couple different impulses:
  • I'm really interested in how we, as artists and writers, respond to fascism. I've written about this before, but I think ONE thing to think about is the importance of saying something, even when that something isn't perfect or revelatory or magical. This isn't a perfect poem, haha. It isn't the most creative thing I've written. But it was important to me to stand up on a stage and say it, as soon as I had the opportunity. The poem might continue to get revised and people might catch a new draft at some point, but to me, the timeliness was more important than the timelessness.
  • The poem is also the product of a lot of conversations I've had with activists, organizers and advocates who work on issues related to gender, feminism, and reproductive justice. The refrain is always "men (especially cis men) need to speak up more." That can seem super obvious, but it can be easy to forget when you're "in" that world; for me, I'm around powerful voices who speak out on these issues all the time- that's just my community. So I've often felt a pull to step back- which CAN be a healthy impulse! It can also, however, sometimes be an excuse to not do any work. It's like, yes, it's messed up that "men talking about being pro-choice" is still seen as bold or interesting- but that's not an excuse not to do it.
  • I'm also really interested in multi-vocal responses, how no one poem has to be "definitive." Multiple poems can present different angles of an argument, different POVs, etc. There are some examples below, but this framework has helped me as a writer: a poem doesn't have to be all things to all people. A poem doesn't have to be the conversation; it can be one piece of a much larger conversation (and different pieces may be able to do different "work" for different audiences, in different contexts). That realization, for me, has been freeing.
I don't have a lot of faith in the power of poems to changes minds, especially about issues like abortion rights. That being said, poems can do so many other things. They can open up spaces for dialogue, they can provide useful frameworks or metaphors for understanding, they can contribute in ways both large and small to the ongoing push-and-pull of how the larger culture frames and understands complex issues, and they can plant seeds (while watering other seeds that have already been planted!)

More Poems and Resources on Reproductive Justice
This summer, I've been sharing my lists a lot: poems about white supremacy, poems about toxic masculinity, poems that have been useful to me in educational spaces. The idea is that hopefully, teachers and other educators can use these poems as entry points to dialogue.

A lot of those lists pull from this bigger list of spoken word poems organized by topic. I don't have a specific list of poems on reproductive justice yet, but this is as good a time as any to start one. If you know of others, please share in the comments! Here are a few:
Finally, these aren't poems, but if there's anyone for whom this is a new issue, or you'd just like to learn more, or get involved, a few links:
Thank you! Please feel free to share. Full transcript: