More of an on-the-road year than a release-lots-of-new-stuff year, but here’s the stuff I did help create this year, in case anyone is interested and missed any of it.

1. “What’s Good, Man?” In Search of Healthy Masculinity

A sneak preview of our 8th episode, which we recorded LIVE back in October with some incredible guests whom you’ll get to hear from soon. Photo by Peter Limthongviratn. 

I resisted the siren song of starting a podcast for a really long time. But tony the scribe had some great ideas, and the overall issue of toxic masculinity is relevant to literally every crisis on earth right now. There’s a sense of urgency here, mixed with an impulse to really take some time to explore how this dominant/dominating narrative of manhood as power, control, and authority is so effective and so insidious. We’re only four episodes into the show (with a fifth coming on 1/1/20), and already have SO MANY MORE planned for the next season. Thanks so much to everyone who’s already tuned in. Related: a piece I wrote back in January called “How much profit is in your pain? On masculinity and outrage.”

2. “The Art of Taking the L” Zine and Video

Related to the podcast, this is a poem (and accompanying zine) that I’ve been working on for a while. Finally got a draft ready to share, and it’s available now both as a video (via Button Poetry) and as part of a BUNDLE of zines that are some of my favorite projects I’ve worked on.

3. Other New Videos

This was the first year in like a decade without any new music from me. But there has been some other cool stuff, including “The Art of Taking the L” and these other new videos:

An a capella performance of my two verses from “Matches” by Sifu Hotman.

“Pro-Life,” A poem about reproductive justice (plus this piece with a bunch of great links).

“10 Excerpts From New York Times Op-Eds in Fictional Realities,” a poem subtitled “what happens when you understand conflict, but don’t understand power.”

New footage/performance of an older poem of mine, “A Pragmatist’s Guide to Faith,” about history and happenstance and struggle.

Finally, this UK producer (Fred again..) sampled a snippet of one of my poems for this beautiful song and video. It’s also available on Spotify and elsewhere:

4. Audio Book

My whole book is available now as audio, recorded by me (and engineered by longtime collaborator Big Cats)!

5. Odds and Ends

Some other stuff:

  • Featured in the City Pages’ “People” Issue here.
  • An in-depth feature on the “What’s Good, Man?” podcast via MN Monthly here.
  • A song spotlight + some favorite links on economic inequality here.
  • Shared a bunch of writing prompts for National Poetry Month here.
  • Shared a playlist of poems I’ve found useful doing social justice education work here.
  • Lots more work with TruArtSpeaks and MPD150; very cool stuff on the horizon in 2020.
  • Finally, a little Instagram collage here; chair photo is by Emeline O’Hara; sketch is by Tori HongHere’s my IG link.

Lots planned for 2020. Lots more will be happening beyond those plans. Let’s be ready.

We are the codes that our ancestors still speak in.

This is an older poem; I think I wrote this in 2013 or so. But having a new video of it (via Button Poetry) is a cool way to close out 2019. Like “A Pragmatist’s Guide to Magic,” and “A Pragmatist’s Guide to Revolution,” this is something I wrote for myself more than for any particular audience. Hope you like it, or that it can be valuable in some way to anyone else out there.

It’s also in my book, which is available here.

The words:

Continue reading “New Video for "A Pragmatist's Guide to Faith"”

“Your relationship isn’t you being one person with the same wants and needs. It’s you being two or more people, all with their own sets of wants and needs, and trying to figure out where they line up.”
–tony the scribe

Our fourth episode is built around the question “if you had a time machine, and could go back and give your teenage self advice about dating, sex, and relationships in general, what would it be?” That question is very intentionally-phrased, in that this isn’t an episode that is going to be 100% relevant to every single listener. But our hope is that by talking about that question from our own perspectives, there’ll be something interesting, or useful, to take away.

Of course, our perspectives are limited! And we’ll be diving more deeply into other folks’ experiences of masculinity very soon. Also, thanks to our guest, Kelly Evertz.

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. Find our previous three episodes here.

Here’s the full transcript of episode four:

Continue reading “"What Can Hitch Teach Us About Healthy Dating?" Or: Ten things we wish we knew about dating, sex, and relationships when we were younger (#WhatsGoodMan Episode 4)”

“The goal is not to say all the right things… the goal is to try to show up, be authentically present, and be like, I’m here. I’m doing my best. I really care about this work. I’m going to listen. I’m going to be here. I’m going to respond to critique. I’m gonna be accountable.”
–tony the scribe

This is our third episode, and it focuses on misconceptions about feminism, as well as how men can intentionally engage with feminist work. It’s also very much just one part of a much longer conversation. If you’re just finding us now, I’d recommend checking out our second episode before diving into this one. 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.

Here’s the full transcript of episode three:

Continue reading “"Is Feminism for Everybody?" Men’s Role in the Fight for Gender Equity (#WhatsGoodMan Episode 3)”

“A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.”
-Margaret Atwood

This is our second episode, and probably my personal favorite from the whole season. 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, THANK YOU to everyone who came to our very first live episode recording at the University of MN. The conversation was absolutely fantastic, and I can’t wait for everyone else to be able to hear it too. Double thanks to everyone who tuned into the first episode, subscribed, and shared it.

Here’s the full transcript of episode two:

Continue reading “"What Kind of Man Are You?" Our Favorite Depictions of Masculinity in Pop Culture (#WhatsGoodMan Episode 2)”

This is a poem I wrote back in January. You can find the full text at that link.

The subtitle is “what happens when you understand conflict, but don’t understand power,” something that, I have to say, is very, very relevant in today’s political discourse. This is a super weird, very specific poem, but I think it’s pointing at an issue that is definitely worth thinking critically about.

Related: This is part of an informal series of poems about POWER. I mean, all of my poems are about power in some way, but this series (which also includes Thoughts and Prayers, Pro-Life, and A Pragmatist’s Guide to Magic, are all very explicitly about power in the context of organizing. I hope they make more sense when experienced in proximity to one another.

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.

Find the full transcript of the episode below.

Continue reading “"What's Wrong with Masculinity?" (#WhatsGoodMan Episode 1)”

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!

Q: I don’t actually listen to podcasts, but I assume there are already a bunch out there on that same topic. Why is yours the BEST? What makes yours special?

Kyle: My goal isn’t to be the “best” or be some magical wellspring of knowledge. I just want our show to contribute, to add something to the larger conversation. That being said, this particular piece of the conversation is being driven by two hosts who happen to both be rappers. That isn’t something we lean in to in super explicit ways, but I do think it matters, both in terms of the tone of the show and its substance– this isn’t some intellectual, academic “debate” about masculinity. We’re trying to ground these issues in everyday experiences, stories, and real life. We’re also activists, so while we want to create space to honestly talk about these ideas and just process in general, we also want to at least share some tools or ideas for action.

tony: Kyle was one of the first people I ever heard speak about the problems with stereotypical masculinity in a deep and nuanced way. He’s spent the better part of a decade leading conversations and workshops around gender, so that alone gives us a pretty deep grounding into this topic. As for me…I guess I’ve spent a lot of time in the last couple of years thinking about and trying to break down toxic masculinity, in myself and others. So I have an appreciation for how important this work is, but how messy and difficult it can be, too. And I want to keep exploring that!

Q: So it’s two guys… talking about feminist stuff… so whether I’m on the right or the left, I’ll probably hate it?

Kyle: This show exists because we listened to people (especially women) in our lives who told us that it was important for men to talk to other men about issues like toxic masculinity, gender violence, consent, and beyond. We say at the beginning of every episode: men need to speak up more about this stuff, but we also realize that “men speaking up more” isn’t always the answer. It’s often the problem. So the goal is to be super intentional with the topics we choose, and make sure that we’re speaking from our own experience and not trying to tell other people’s stories for them.

I think the audience we really want to reach is in the middle: people (especially men) who understand that there’s *something* weird or broken or dangerous about this traditional stereotype of the invincible, emotionless manly-man, but just don’t necessarily know where to start. But I hope people who don’t agree with us tune in. And I hope people who HAVE already had these conversations tune in too, since one thing we talk about is how “healthy masculinity” isn’t a destination we ever actually reach; it’s a constant process.

tony: Haters gon hate. Our show won’t be for everybody, and that’s okay. If we can contribute to a growing wave of understanding that masculinity doesn’t have to be like this, that we can do better, then it’s worth doing. That said, I do think lots of folks are hungry to hear and participate in these conversations – everyone from feminist organizers to conservative men has told me that they’re interested in hearing more men talk about their experiences of masculinity.

Q: I see you’re doing a live episode recording on November 6, the same day your first episode comes out. Isn’t that PRESUMPTUOUS?

Kyle: Even though we’re the hosts, this podcast is very much a community effort, and we’re proud to have so much support from all over our networks– from the arts scene, to the activist world, to the different offices and organizations at the University of Minnesota (where we’ll be doing this first live show) and beyond. It isn’t just that we’re cool and charming and already kind of well-known as individuals; it’s like tony said: people seem hungry for this topic. People have a lot to say, and a lot of questions too. We’re excited to build with them. The live episode is also going to feature like a half-dozen really smart, amazing surprise guests too.

tony: Plus, we’re rappers. We’re used to getting to celebrate new releases with parties, and I think it’d feel mega weird to hit the “release” button on the podcast and then just…wait for people to respond to it on Twitter. Kyle has a lyric that goes “Power is a hundred people in the same place at the same time,” and though we can make great connections and critique each other and build movements on the internet, it’s nice to be around each other in person sometimes, too. Man cannot dismantle toxic masculinity on Twitter alone, feel me? Hopefully next Wednesday is just one of many opportunities for us to get together and chat in real life about this stuff.

Q: Great. I’m definitely subscribing and am now your biggest fan! Tell me all of the in-the-weeds technical stuff that you know no one actually cares about but your fear compels you to share publicly anyway.

Kyle: We recorded this first season of episodes between July and November of 2019, so there aren’t a ton of ripped-from-the-headlines stuff, or direct responses to audience questions or feedback. We tried to keep the first season pretty DIY, but have a lot of ideas and plans for the second season to do more interactive stuff, have more guests, etc. As episodes are released, we’ll also be sharing full transcripts, plus links and resources, at www.wgmpod.com.

tony: This project is really exciting and really scary! Neither of us have done a podcast before, and we’re doing everything ourselves, so we need your help to make sure it’s as powerful as it can be. If you have questions, concerns, critiques, connections, or want to book us for a live show, you can email us at elguante@gmail.com and tonythescribemgmt@gmail.com. Podcasts spread best via word of mouth, so make sure to subscribe to the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get podcasts, and tell your friends about it! #WhatsGoodMan

“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

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