Sunday, March 30, 2014

Anne S. Kaplan

When you get a chance, look at the cover of Fat Poets Speak 2: Living and Loving Fatly.

The poet on the cover is Anne S. Kaplan, who is now a life coach.

Take a look at the biography of Anne in the Biographies section.

Anne is smiling on the cover. Her smile makes me think of the some of the lyrics in the Jackson Browne song, "Fountain of Sorrow."

"You were turning 'round to see who was behind you
And I took your childish laughter by surprise
And at the moment that my camera happened to find you
There was just a trace of sorrow in your eyes."

I won't talk about what Anne went through in her life to get to the point where she could start writing the poems she has written. You can see this in her bio.

I made one of those dreadfully embarrassing mistakes editors make from time to time and submitted an altered version of one of Anne's poems, one she did not approve which was shortened, and with different punctuation. Of course Anne caught the mistake immediately, and our  publisher, Peggy Elam/Pearlsong Press, changed the files so that Anne's poem would read correctly.

At first I was disgusted with myself and with the idea that an altered version of a poem could somehow find its way into the manuscript I was submitting. Then I realized it was kind of wonderful to find that Anne was proud enough of the poems she had written to fight for their correct insertion into the book.

Anne actually cares enough now about her poems to make sure they appear in the correct version. And that trace of sorrow? I hope it will turn to a trace of gladness when she receives her author's copies -corrected- of Fat Poets Speak 2:  Living and Loving Fatly.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Romantic Getaway

Just read an ad for a blouse that one would supposedly wear for a "romantic getaway" on Capri. Only one thing: for fat people, especially fat women, does "romantic getaway" means someplace in which you won't be facing constant namecalling and harassment? I would bet anything that Capri would not fit the bill.

I did a couple of posts on resorts purporting to be for fat people, one of which turned out to be someone's pipe dream ("pipe" as in I don't know exactly what they were smoking when they posted about a resort that doesn't exist).

What/Where is a romantic getaway for fat people?

Madison and Boston both seemed to have quite a few places - restaurants, hotels, bookshops, concert venues - in which a fat person would not be harassed. I am not saying that all of both cities would be this way. However, I tested them both out for a while, and they both rate right up there on my mellowness meter. New York - in spots. Philadelphia - I don't know. Articles keep saying that Philadelphia is the fattest city in the northeast. Maybe it is, and maybe it's okay. Maybe people live and let live. I don't remember this being the case when I was at Temple U. and then at Penn. (And then at Gratz College right outside Phila., and Penn State/Ogontz, about seven miles north). In any case, I was stigmatized for other things there (having a bf of a different race, among them).

But does being in a place in which one is not harassed or stigmatized constitute a romantic getaway? I tend to doubt it.

Maybe the North Pole or those territories and islands near it, with the Aurora Borealis cascading across the sky in iridescent magic, would be a romantic getaway for fat people. Inuit tend not to stigmatize fat people, at least until now. Some softness goes a long way toward warming winter..

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Subtly letting others now about how fantastic your life is while undercutting it with a bit of self-effacing humor or "woe is me" gloss.  (Urban Dictionary)

There’s nothing new about false modesty, nor its designation as a form of bad manners. But the prevalence of social media has given us many more canvases on which to paint our faux humility — making us, in turn, increasingly sophisticated braggers.
Enter the self-deprecating boast known as the “humblebrag,” a term devised by the comedian Harris Wittels...
Indeed, this may be why false modesty is no less discomfiting to its audience (and is sometimes more so) than outright bragging. Outright bragging expects to be met with awe, but humblebragging wants to met with awe and sympathy. It asks for two reactions from its audience, and in so doing makes fools of its beholders twice over."  New York Times, 12/2/2012
Say hello to the humblebrag. As in those two sentences, the humblebrag is when someone, possibly unconsciously, manages to show off about something while simultaneously couching it in terms of self deprecation – at least enough to give the impression that the author doesn't believe the hype.  The Independent, March 23, 2014

Very in the news now, humblebragging has been getting increased notice. And no more than in the Fat Acceptance Movement.
A whole new crop of business people intent on getting fat people to dislike themselves (if they don't already) enough to want to lose weight have become increasingly sophisticated in their approaches. They know now that there are enough fat people who are not going to hate themselves just because advertisements tell them to do so. So they have to come up with something much more subtle. They now discuss the fact that they didn't dislike themselves when they were fat, and yet for some mysterious reason(s) they decided to go on diets or get WLS and lose weight. They don't list the reason or reasons. And they try to be deprecatingly humorous about it. 
They do, however, list links to their businesses, which invariably turn out to be weight loss training and/or diets of some kind.
Here is an example.
Don't read it if you just ate or are planning to eat.

Trying to figure out how to work this into a poem..

Monday, March 17, 2014

My mom

My mom was super thrilled to see the poem entitled "Radiance" about her in Fat Poets Speak 2:  Living and Loving Fatly.

She was plump and gorgeous once, in her younger years. Then she dieted a lot.She lost weight and kept dieting most of the time. I never knew until much much later that she was almost starving herself half the time, which was one of the main reasons that she was often happier on weekends, when she let herself have more food.

 Ironically her idiotic doctor told her that she had to cut out most dairy, even though both her "good" cholesterol and "bad" cholesterol were high. She just manufactured more because of her genetics. And this is in spite of her also having osteoporosis.

Result: Her osteoporosis got worse. The cholesterol drug he put her on probably caused or worsened her rheumatoid arthritis and may have caused her colon cancer (1994-1996), along with the low-dairy diet.

Result:  She can only sit for periods of ten minutes at a time. She lost five inches in height, and is very thin and frail. She suffers other complications, as well, pertaining to her stomach.

Way to go, diet culture. You gave my mom some chronic illnesses she could have avoided had she dieted less or not at all, and had she not listened to her primary care physician.

She is still beautiful, though, in spite of everything.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Now available from Pearlsong Press

March 14, 2014

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fat Poets Speak 2 on Amazon

This is the time when we hope and hope. When all seems potential, possibility, limbo. When our words are about to go from paper to print, courtesy of our most excellent publisher and encourager, Peggy Elam, CEO of Pearlsong Press.

The official publishing date for Fat Poets Speak 2:  Living and Loving Fatly is April 1. But a couple of people have already ordered a copy from Amazon. So it may be possible to order it now.

Dr. Deah Schwartz, one of our New Voices, read Kathy Barron's ;poem "Fat Bitch" -from Fat Poets Speak: Voices of the Fat Poets' Society-  recently at a conference and noted that it was a smash. But wait until you see the poems Kathy has in Fat Poets Speak 2!!

I have watched the poets who wrote in Fat Poets Speak 1 develop their poetic voices. It is probably one of the most exciting things to watch, when a poet starts to find her voice. That is why Fat Poets 2 is also so wonderfully interesting:  It features the poets from Fat Poets Speak 1 (except, unfortunately, for Corinna Makris, who was not able to write for this volume) who have come so far as poets, along with four New Voices of activists in the Fat Acceptance movement.

New dream: For us to go from place to place, reading our poems on tour.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Safe spaces

 FPS 2 is now listed in Amazon. (Fat Poets Speak 2).  If you want your own copy, now is the time to order.

There is an entire section in FPS 2 devoted to "Safe Spaces."  For fat people, safe spaces are places/spaces in which we do not hear any negative comments or comments trashing our weight, our right to exist, just as we are, as human beings, our right to be treated with respect and civility, and our rights to use and be granted the same access to products and services as those who are not fat.

Safe spaces can also be places/spaces in which we don't have to risk being told that we need any kind of alteration(s) to make us acceptable to the public at large. Safe spaces are certainly places in which we don't have to worry about people laughing at us, harassing us or assaulting us, or accusing us of hurting or assaulting others because they dislike our size and shapes. Safe spaces for us are places in which we are not bullied.

Safe spaces are places in which we can wear clothes we like and in which we feel comfortable without fear of ridicule. Safe spaces can be places in which we don't have to wear anything in particular or at all. Safe spaces are places in which furniture is strong enough to hold us comfortably without our being afraid that it will break or impede our breathing. Safe spaces are places in which bathrooms and shower and bath facilities allow us to fit comfortably and to use them without feeling squeezed. (Too bad there are very few seats on planes which fit this description.)

Safe spaces inhabit our dreams and wishes.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Interview with me in LargeinCharge 10th Year Celebration Issue

Raqui Hernandez is a big, beautiful, inspiring woman. She has come through some tough times and some dangerous times. Out of all this, she has managed to build LargeinCharge, an online magazine about exciting trends in Fat Positiveness.

And bless her, she has interviewed me for the current 10 year Celebration Issue. I will interview her at some point soon. I love interviewing fat positive activists.


Catching up with Frannie Zellman
Author of the Fatland Trilogy

Frannie Zellman author of the Fatland Trilogy
By: Raqui

Frannie Zellman was recommended to me by Peggy Howell, when I asked about interesting people who are doing great things in the plus sized community.  We were able to feature her and her book Fatland and Fat Poets Speak. Getting to know Frannie over the years has been a slow and nice process.  Since her first interview with LargeInCharge we have interacted through facebook and that has been a great way to share.  Frannie is a passionate person about all her beliefs, yet respectful of others thoughts as well.  Her writing takes you into a special place with that same passion she lives with.  This year we have been honored to have Frannie be a Cover Model of the Year Sponsor, we are so proud of all she has continued to accomplish with her writing and projects. 

Check out the Original Feature by clicking the cover below.
Issue #67 - October 2009
Interview What is your name?
Frannie Zellman here J Where are you from and what is your current Location?
From New York (city and suburbs) a long long time ago. But I have been in NJ now for eleven years. Have lived here in Cherry Hill, NJ for five years.   When did you first appear in LargeInCharge Magazine?
I seem to remember being in LargeinCharge right around the time that FatLand (1): A Novel was published. That would be in 2009. Please tell us why you were featured?
I was featured for writing FatLand: A Novel. FatLand presents a land in which fat people are rightful and proud citizens, a land where dieting/starvation and scales are forbidden.  How did you feel when you appeared in LargeInCharge?
It was rather exciting to appear in a place which was fat friendly and positive.  How do you feel now about being included in our special Decade editions?
It is just lovely to be able to honor your first ten years, and my first five years as a fat positive novelist. How has your life and endeavors changed since your appearance? 
Since the appearance of FatLand, I have written FatLand (2): The Early Days, and have contributed to and edited two volumes of fat-positive poetry:  Fat Poets Speak 1:  Voices of the Fat Poets’ Society and our upcoming book (out in April), Fat Poets Speak 2:  Living and Loving Fatly. (Pearlsong Press, owned and managed by Peggy Elam, Ph.D., is the publisher of all books mentioned, and many many more fat positive books.)   So you could say that my writing and fat-positive goals have expanded since then (pun mostly not intended).  What changes have you made to advance your career/business?
I have two blogs now, one for FatLand and one for Fat Poets Speak: and How long have you invested in your venture/career?
I have written poems since I was six. It is only within the last fifteen years that I have finally understood why I was writing and what I was writing about. I guess that my investment has been mostly emotional.  Tell us about some of the most exciting events/occasions, you/your business have held/participated in.
I think one of the most exciting occasions had to be the formation of Fat Poets’ Society at the 2006 NAAFA Convention, when Mary Ray Worley decided that the people who were participating in my very first fat-celebratory and liberation Poetry workshop should join together in a society so that we could keep writing and keep in touch. This coming together produced the poems that later went into Fat Poets Speak: Voices of the Fat Poets’ Society in 2009, four months after the publication of my novel, FatLand.  Have you been featured in any press, on tv, newspapers etc?
There was a newspaper article about me and about FatLand and Fat Poets Speak  (1) in a North New Jersey local paper in 2009.  That is the only newspaper article one I know about. I know that the NAAFA Newsletter has featured articles about FatLand and Fat Poets Speak, as well as poems by some of the poets in Fat Poets Speak. Some blogs have done so, as well. What changes have you seen for plus sized people since your first appearance?
Actually, I think there have been some very exciting changes. We still have a long way to go, but there have been some very encouraging articles about Fat Acceptance and about HAES in places such as The New York Times and Huffington Post. I think people in general are starting to understand that fat is a kind of body, a descriptor, not a curse, and that fat people can be both happy and beautiful without changing their size. Fat Studies is now a respected discipline in universities. More and more people are writing novels and poems from a fat acceptance and fat positive perspective. Are there any changes you had to make for your venture/career flourish?
The most important change I had to make was to realize that I had something unique to say and that I had the ability to say it in writing. Anything else –the blogs, the Facebook participation- pales in comparison. What are some of the most important things you have learned through the years?
I think of the Jim Croce song, “The Hard Way Every Time.” However, if there is something to be learned here, it is not to put yourself into one particular place or niche, but to keep trying different ones if you don’t feel that a place or position or niche expresses what you want to say to the world. I feel that what one has to say and the way one says it will come together if one is writing what one was meant to write. I am not saying that FatLand and Fat Poets Speak contain the only things I have to write, but they do say what I consider as the most important things I have to say to the world about being fat and proud and not apologizing for it, but celebrating it. And just as importantly, one does not have to put anyone else down to celebrate one’s own shape and writing and talents. How is your standing in the Plus Sized Community among the people?  Good feedback, negative feedback, learning lessons?
A few years earlier I tended to be impatient at times with people who are/were at different, mostly earlier stages of their fat acceptance journey. Tracey L. Thompson’s book Fatropolis (also published by Pearlsong Press) showed me that many people experience their fat shapes as victims, not only of hate and stigmatizing, but also of their own negative internalized images, before they become empowered. I appreciate her perspective more than I can say, and it has taught me that it is very necessary to be gentle and encouraging with people who are taking their first steps in Fat Acceptance and positivity. Rome was not built in a day! Fat pride must often be nurtured and constructed slowly, forgivingly, lovingly. What would you say inspires you most in life?
The memory of my grandparents. They were people who were passionate about what they believed and fought hard for it. They fought for the rights of workers to have things like an eight hour day, weekends, paid time off, pensions, non-discrimination policies for women and minorities in hiring and on the job. When I think of them, I say, “The fight will go on.” Although some of their work and that of people like them has been eroded in the last thirty years because of psychopathically greedy wealth-worship(p)ers, I still cherish what they were and stood for, and their memory keeps me working  for Fat Acceptance and Fat Pride.  Any new ventures you have planned for the future?
Not new, but I am greatly looking forward to finishing the third volume of the FatLand Trilogy.  However, I must say that there seem to be other books about FatLand and the Other Side/USA that want to be written. I don’t know if I would consider those books a venture, but they may start to comprise one if and when they are written. What are your future goals?
I have wishes. I don’t know if they could be considered goals. I have this vision of a series of “safe houses” for fat people where they can go if they feel that they are being harassed and stigmatized by people in their own neighborhoods or locales.
Another wish:  A website devoted to FatLand. That may happen sooner than the first one J What advice would you give to other people of size who might be interested in doing something simlar?
Don’t stop writing and don’t stop believing in what you write. And…read, read, read. Read Fat Acceptance books of all kinds, fiction and poetry and non-fiction, but just keep reading anything that interests you.  This will feed your dreams and visions, which in turn will feed your writing. Describe yourself/ your company/org with one word.
Me:  Visionary
Fat Poets Speak (people and books):  Inspirational