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Holding Me Together: Essays and Poems [Paperback]

Duane Simolke
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Aug. 1 2005
The first edition of Holding Me Together received a StoneWall Society Pride in the Arts Award. Simolke's publisher, iUniverse, named it an Editor's Choice selection.

This revised, second edition begins with an updated version of his multi-part essay 'Reactions to Homophobia," followed by poems and short essays on a variety of topics, such as writing, AIDS, religion, violence, family, friendship, and gay relationships. It also includes several new or newly revised works.

Many of the poems and essays in this collection also appeared in various magazines and newsletters. Though Holding Me Together focuses heavily on gay themes, it also examines universal themes and will appeal to countless readers.

From 'Reactions to Homophobia":

Treat other people's insecurities as their weakness, not as a reason to hate yourself or remain silent. Try to inform others and get along with others, but never base self-acceptance on whether others accept you. Hateful knee-jerk phrases can stick in your mind, like a worn-out song you never liked in the first place, but you should learn to see yourself as beautiful and wonderful. If others fail to see you that way, consider it their loss.


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Review

"Duane Simolke's seminal work Holding Me Together is a gratifying mixture of scholarship, art, and personal expression." -- Ronald L. Donaghe, best-selling author of the gay novels All Over Him and Common Sons

From the Publisher

Long before the 1999 publication of Duane Simolke’s book Holding Me Together, many of its poems and essays had appeared in publications and on Web sites. Simolke began finding readers from around the world, especially for the long essay that opens Holding Me Together, "Reactions to Homophobia."

Dann Hazel used "Reactions" as one of the resources for his book Witness: Gay and Lesbian Clergy Report from the Front. Edited by Paul Harris, the book From Our Own Lips: The Book of GLBT Quotations includes a quote from "Not Worth Dying Over," another essay from Holding. Not long after Holding’s publication, StoneWall Society gave the book a Pride in the Arts Award.

Now, Simolke presents a revised, second edition. The updated version of "Reactions to Homophobia" integrates new research, from hate crimes in Canada to the ex-gay movement in the United States. With the first edition of Holding, Simolke had left out some poems he wanted to add, because he felt they needed more work; those poems appear in the second edition. He also added introductory notes that give background to some of the works.

While not all the book’s essays and poems focus on gay issues, the overall collection reflects gay pride, celebrates gay relationships, and embraces a more universal desire for tolerance and understanding.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Holding Me Together" Perfect Prospective Sept. 15 2002
By Len
Format:Paperback
...
First off, I want to let you know that I'm not a professional reviewer. I am a person that just loves to read. If my reviews get at least one person to read a book then I've done what I have set out to do.

The latest book is "Holding Me Together" by Duane Simolke. The largest part of the book is an essay titled Reactions to Homophobia. This work is very thought provoking. One of my favorites is "Gay Sex is unnatural. Yes, for a heterosexual." This essay is full of ideas along this line. Duane has taken homophobic statements and given his take on them. Others include: "Homosexuals are just a bunch of men dressing up like women", "The average gay male has 5000-15,000 different partners per year." ... "Homosexuality is a Mental Illness", and "The Parts don't fit." Duane has done his research. He has many references and interesting answers to scriptures, websites, books, etc. Once you have read his essay you will want to pick up your copy of King James and check it out in a different light.
There is also a collection of poems. Now I'm not normally a big poetry person however, there were a couple that touched me, as the style is tight and the imagery wonderful. Faces parts I - VII, really aroused my heart. Or in Bareback, Duane hits some, where they don't like it.
If you want something to say when someone says a Homophobic remark? Well, try some of Duane's.
I would recommend this to anyone. Someone that is just coming to terms with their own sexuality and they need answers to remarks they have grown up hearing. Or to the person that is making ignorant homophobic remarks.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Holding Me Together" Perfect Prospective Sept. 15 2002
By Len - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
...
First off, I want to let you know that I'm not a professional reviewer. I am a person that just loves to read. If my reviews get at least one person to read a book then I've done what I have set out to do.

The latest book is "Holding Me Together" by Duane Simolke. The largest part of the book is an essay titled Reactions to Homophobia. This work is very thought provoking. One of my favorites is "Gay Sex is unnatural. Yes, for a heterosexual." This essay is full of ideas along this line. Duane has taken homophobic statements and given his take on them. Others include: "Homosexuals are just a bunch of men dressing up like women", "The average gay male has 5000-15,000 different partners per year." ... "Homosexuality is a Mental Illness", and "The Parts don't fit." Duane has done his research. He has many references and interesting answers to scriptures, websites, books, etc. Once you have read his essay you will want to pick up your copy of King James and check it out in a different light.
There is also a collection of poems. Now I'm not normally a big poetry person however, there were a couple that touched me, as the style is tight and the imagery wonderful. Faces parts I - VII, really aroused my heart. Or in Bareback, Duane hits some, where they don't like it.
If you want something to say when someone says a Homophobic remark? Well, try some of Duane's.
I would recommend this to anyone. Someone that is just coming to terms with their own sexuality and they need answers to remarks they have grown up hearing. Or to the person that is making ignorant homophobic remarks.
Duane Simolke's writings have appeared in several of publications, including; The International Journal On World Peace, Midwest Poetry Review, Perception, Caprock Sun, Community Voice, The New Voice of Nebraska, The Amarillo Bridge, and The Electronic Gay Community Magazine
Duane is also the author of; The Acorn Stories, Holding Me Together, and New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio. Just click his Name - Duane Simolke to see his website and or purchase information on any of Duane's titles.
You can order Duane Simolke's books at most local or on-line bookstores.
So Check it out. You will be pleased. Till next time, Be Safe, Be Proud, and most important, Be Yourself!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nicely done! Sept. 8 2001
By Drew Brainiard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Typically collections of "Gay" essays are by well-known columnists like Bruce Bawer or Michael Thomas Ford, so it's rather refreshing to read a collection by an ordinary citizen with nothing more to recommend him than insight, intelligence and sensitivity. Through poetry and a series of mini-essays within a larger essay, Holding Me Together offers a commonsense perspective on what it means to be homosexual in the 21st Century.
The poetry is quite lovely; in particular "Chasing Seagulls," "Detour," "Sock Poem," "Pharisee" and "Home," but most of the collection is devoted to the essays.
Simolke writes well (as one would expect from the author of THE ACORN STORIES), with a mild-mannered logic that nonetheless neatly skewers some of the most beloved clichés about GLBT persons: "they just haven't met the right person;" "they recruit;" "they live that gay lifestyle;" "it's against nature;" "God didn't create Adam and Steve."
In "If there's nothing wrong with it why is it illegal," which is part of the longer essay "Reactions to Homophobia," Simolke writes: "As if it weren't bad enough that fundamentalists try to boss all their fellow mortals around, they also try to boss God around. They keep telling Him which groups of people He can love, which religious systems He can support, which marriages He can bless, which gender He can see as superior, which candidate He can endorse, which styles of music He can allow for religious lyrics, which musical instruments He can allow in places of worship, which styles of clothing He can condone, etc. That list could go on forever. If you want to boss God around, that's your folly. But I won't let you control my life or my mind."
In his exploration of what it is to be gay, Simolke manages to touch on a more fundamental truth: what it is to be human.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shedding Light into the Darkness of Homophobia Sept. 25 2000
By Ronald L. Donaghe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Duane Simolke's seminal work Holding Me Together is a gratifying mixture of scholarship, art, and personal expression. In the long essay, "Reactions to Homophobia," readers will meet an intelligent and patient narrator who takes virtually every ignorant question and misstatement seemingly ever made about gays and lesbians and, as though speaking to those who ask such questions or make disparaging remarks about homosexuals, refutes the ignorance. Simolke does, indeed, shed a brilliant light into the dark recesses of homophobia.
But Holding Me Together is more than a refutation of homophobia. It is also a quite brilliant and accessible apologia for those who know that the Bible of Judeo-Christian heritage is chock full of contradictions yet are unable to point them out so well as Simolke does. At the same time, Simolke does not bash the Bible, but shows how it is truly utter nonsense to interpret its scripture so literally.
The long essay is actually divided into a delightful collection of short pieces, focused around the notion that he is speaking to homophobes, fundamentalists, concerned (but ignorant) heterosexuals, and others. A short list of the subtitles of "Reactions to Homophobia" indicates what the reader can look forward to. "Unlike gay people, I don't tell people what my wife and I do in bed." "If a normal guy or a white guy gets beat up, hate crimes laws can't help him. That isn't fair." "Homosexuals can't be Christians." "The parts don't fit." "Gay people should try to be cured."
But this book is more than the long essay. Part Two is a collection of poems that are both soft-spoken and interior to the writer and yet so forceful, reading them is like being knocked over with a feather-you feel a gentle touch, but are left stunned as in the multi-part poem "Faces, Parts I-VII." You cannot simply contemplate the devastation of AIDS on its innocent victims. Simolke will not let you merely feel the gentle touch of his poem about Jessica and other faces; you must also confront those who "Thank God for AIDS."
In short, Duane Simolke's voice is gentle, reasoned, assured, but will leave you gasping for breath. Ultimately, you will be more knowledgeable at the end of the work than you were at the beginning.
Ronald L. Donaghe is a technical writer and novelist from New Mexico. He has been published by Dutton, Edward William Publishing Company, New Mexico Council for the Arts, Xlibris Corporation and by Writer's Club Press (an imprint of iUniverse.com). His growing body of work includes essays in three anthologies, a book of essays, two novels, and a full-length autobiography.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful coming out gift Oct. 27 2000
By Copernicus again - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
With something for everyone, Duane Simolke's Holding Me Together is an important contribution to the fight against gay bigotry. In the core essay, "Reactions to Homophobia," Mr. Simolke gently, methodically, and eloquently destroys the long list of thoughtless objections to the existence and celebration of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders. Even those who have thought long and hard about these issues will find this book comforting and insightful. It's greatest value, however, may be for those who are questioning their sexuality or who are newly out of the closet. Reading this book will surely give them strength. If I had a magic wand, I would put this book in the hands of all our gay or questioning youth. There are probably a dozen or so books a newly out bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transgender ought to read. Holding Me Together is definitely one of them. If you know a young (or old) gay person, do them and the world a favor, and buy them this book.
This review is by Copernicus again who has written with Writer's Club Press, an imprint of iuniverse.com, How to win the Nobel Prize and The Sex closest to "God." again is an author, painter, dancer. again teaches communications at a midwestern university. He is founder of House of Wonder -- a cultural center dedicated to the celebration of the dynamic, multifaceted, interactive, malleable, and paradoxical human form.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for everyone combating homophobia. Feb. 14 2000
By James Whitney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Duane Simolke's latest book is a collection of essays and poems in three parts. Part One, "Reactions to Homophobia, A Long Essay" is a collection of essays responding to the rhetoric that confronts GLBTS people every day. From biblical references to "traditional values" to misquoted surveys, these essays are thoughful and in-depth responses. He points out the many contradictions and fallacies in the generalizations used to foster and justify antigay prejudices. Part Two is the poetry. These poems present life from many perspectives. The seven part "Faces" presents us with an antigay protester at the funeral of an AIDS casualty and the mother of the woman that has died. The perspectives of these people are changed by the realities faced in the poem (and so was mine). In "Detour" we see the joy and power of a same-sex couple walking hand in hand down Cedar Springs Rd. in Dallas for the first time. "Two Rapes" shows us the brutality of a woman's experience with her attacker and the legal system where she seeks justice. My personal favorite is the aptly titled "Home", which also provides the book's title. "Home" describes the presence and the touch of a lover as "holding me together". Part Three is short essays. The subjects of the essays here are satire (with a warning to the "humor impaired"), bible verses, and gay life. This section ends with a appendix, titled "Should We Follow These Verses?", listing the dangers of literal interpretation of bible verses. The surest sign of any good book is when you want to recommend it to friends or seek other books by the same author. I intend to do both.
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