richnewman's picture

Hi everyone! My name is Richard Jeffrey Newman, and I am a friend and colleague of Elizabeth's. She and I talked about my blogging here on SitPS some time ago, but it's only recently that I have turned my attention (actually, returned my attention is more accurate) to material that would be appropriate to post here. Before I start doing so, though, I thought I should tell you a little bit about myself and my work. Pretty much everything I write about gender and sexuality is rooted in some way in my experience as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, by two different men, at two very different points in my life. At the time, this is more than 30 years ago, the only people who were talking at all about child sexual abuse, or pretty much any kind of sexual abuse, were feminists; and so it was through feminism that I found a vocabulary to name not only what had happened to me, but also how I wanted to live in my body in response to what those men had done to me.

These ideas first started finding form in language in the late 1980s, when I published an article called "His Sexuality, Her Reproductive Rights" in the now-defunct magazine Changing Men. (It would be some time before I could write successfully about my experience of abuse.) I continued to write for Changing Men until it stopped publication, and I also started publishing essays about my sexual experiences when I worked in South Korea as a teacher of English as a Second Languages. One of those essays, Sexual Charades in Seoul, was eventually published in

My work eventually attracted the interest of an independent editor very interested in publishing feminist-oriented books by and about men and male sexuality, but he found it impossible to place the book, which had the working title What Kind of a Man Are You, Anyway? I subsequently found an agent interested in representing the book, and she submitted my proposal to some very big publishing houses. The responses she got were remarkably similar; editor after editor told her that while they liked my work, thought what I had to say was interesting and compelling, not one of them had any confidence they could sell the book internally, to their own people, or that it would succeed in the market were they to publish it.

After about a year of trying unsuccessfully to place the book, the agent had no choice but to drop me. I reevaluated the proposal, changed the book's working title to Evolving Manhood and looked for another agent for a brief while. I also submitted the proposal directly to big, small and university publishers, but the response was always the same: great writing, compelling material, but no one thought they would be able to sell it. So I gave up and focused instead on my work as a poet, eventually publishing, in 2004, The Silence of Men, which deals with many of the same ideas I tried to deal with in prose. That success convinced me to set Evolving Manhood aside completely, and I gave my writing energy almost entirely to being a poet, even becoming a translator of classical Persian poetry. (I've published three books and a fourth one is forthcoming; there's information on my website, if you're interested.

Lately, though, I have been thinking about the material in Evolving Manhood and regretting that it wasn't able to find an audience in print, because I still it deserve an audience; and so I have decided to go back through it, harvest what still works, revise portions that seem to me worth revising and post them online. I have called the series--which I started on my own blog, It's All Connected, and on Alas, a feminist-oriented blog where I also post; and now I will be posting them here as well--"Fragments of Evolving Manhood," because that is what the pieces are, fragments of my original manuscript. The first fragment will go up here tomorrow. I look forward to hearing what people have to say about it and those that will follow it.