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Book Review – Aphro-ism

Aphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism from Two SistersAphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism from Two Sisters by Aph Ko
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Five stars because everyone should read and consider it.

For some years, sisters Aph and Syl Ko have been blogging under the title Aphro-ism about black veganism (and other related topics); Aph also started the Black Vegans Rock! website. I knew of them, but hadn’t sat down with their thinking before this book. Here they collect and revise some of the key posts from the blog.

One of the running themes is the human-animal binary, a conceptual framework that they trace to the colonial, Enlightenment era. As such, the term “human” signifies not only a member of the species homo sapiens, but a culturally specific view of the ideal human: male, white, European, [capitalist]. In this mode of thinking, anyone who deviates from this standard “human” falls — to greater or lesser degree — into the Other category “animal,” essentially exploitable and marginalized.

Thus, the Ko sisters argue, animal advocates and anti-racists must disturb and re-imagine this binary. It’s a challenging task, and the essays presented here are only a starting point. Aphro-ism isn’t a historical investigation, or a presentation of the alternative modes of thinking that the human-animal binary cries out for — and it doesn’t purport to be. Instead, the book is a an attempt to fully understand the conceptual problem that lies at the heart of animal exploitation and white supremacy. Along the way, Aph and Syl pause to comment on trending topics, like the Black Lives Matter movement, the killing of Cecil the Lion, and the rise of social media stars. Their writing style is inviting and sharp, with Syl diving perhaps more often into the heavy philosophy. [Reading her pieces, I often felt like I was back in grad school.]

As a sincere attempt to re-think a problem, you won’t find that changing one’s mind, or harboring doubts, are signs of weakness here. Nor do Aph and Syl insist that their way of thinking is the only workable approach, but they find that it is the most workable approach for them. It is an approach that I believe has the power to re-inspire vegans and animal activists old and new, provided we are ready to understand the roots of racism and to care about human beings as fiercely as we care about chickens and rabbits. As Carol Adams does in the afterword, I urge you to read it with an open mind and open heart.

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Complimentary Fiction

The good folks over at Ares Magazine are making one fiction selection available online — completely free — for each issue.  You can read my novella “Mr. Pell,” from Issue #3, and check out their online exclusives in the Ares Online tab.

Be nice to Mama Earth

Mother’s Revenge has arrived!  This anthology of eco-revenge fantasies features my short story “It Wants to be a Swamp,” about the things that can happen on a Metro platform.

Ten percent of the proceeds will be donated to earth-saving organizations such as Water is Life, Union of Concerned Scientists, the Sierra Club and the Clean Air Task Force.

Check out Scary Dairy Press for more weird tales and dark fantasy, and think about heading over to Goodreads to leave a review.

New Year, New Anthology

My new short story “It Wants To Be a Swamp” will appear in the upcoming anthology Mother’s Revenge from Scary Dairy Press — fine publishers of dark, bizarre, and strange fiction.  As the editors describe it: “This is a passionate anthology about Mother Earth taking her world back from the humans and teaching us a lesson.”

Intrigued, aren’t you?

Upcoming Book Readings

“Phoenix Cross” is making the rounds of the DMV, one administrative district at a time!

I.e., after reading at the wonderful Potter’s House in the District last October, I’m heading across the Maryland border on January 7 to Robert Harper BooksThen, on February 8, I’ll be joining friend-to-equines and historic fiction writer J. Bowers at One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia.  Check out her devastating story “Shooting a Mule” in Among Animals 2.

Details and dates:

Robert Harper Books
6216 Rhode Island Ave
Riverdale Park, MD 20737
Saturday, Jan 7, 2pm

One More Page Books
2200 N Westmoreland Street #101
Arlington, VA  22213
Wednesday, Feb 8, 7pm

If you’re in the neighborhood, come down and get a book, get a signature, or get a firm handshake.

It really is an honor just to be nominated

“Phoenix Cross” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize!

The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses series, published every year since 1976, is the most honored literary project in America.

Since 1976, hundreds of presses and thousands of writers of short stories, poetry and essays have been represented in our annual collections. Each year most of the writers and many of the presses are new to the series. Every volume contains an index of past selections, plus lists of outstanding presses with addresses.

Ashland Creek Press nominated the story, which is quite an honor for me, considering they are limited to six nominations for the year, and they’ve published over a dozen stand-out short stories just in Among Animals 2Definitely check them out.

Interview with Ashland Creek Press

I talked with the good folks of Ashland Creek Press about my contribution “Phoenix Cross,” to their new anthology Among Animals 2.  You can check out the results here.  We cover inspiration, research, empathetic farmers, and more!

It’s out!

Among Animals 2 is now available from Ashland Creek Press, featuring my short story “Phoenix Cross”!  What happens when struggling chicken farmers gene-splice the company breed with a mythological phoenix?  Well, not exactly what they hoped for.

I’ll be reading from the story at The Potter’s House at 7pm, October 14.  If you’re in the DC-area, stop on by!  Then stick around for the discussion with DC Stampede – a grassroots social justice collective for animals, people, and the planet.  Details available on Facebook.

Among Animals 2 is coming!

The next volume of the anthology Among Animals is coming in September!  Like the first volume, this book collects short stories that explore how humans interact with other species in complex, heartbreaking, hilarious, and humbling ways.  I’m so honored that my short story “Phoenix Cross” will be appearing alongside contributions from applauded writers like JoeAnn Hart.  Check out Ashland Creek Press for updates–and to get a copy of the first anthology, which features “Meat” by yours truly.

And if you’re around the DC-area this fall, I’ll be reading from the book and taking part in a discussion at The Potter’s House!  Date TBD.

Hot off the press: Ares Magazine, Issue 3

Issue 3 of Ares Magazine is now available!  My novella “Mr. Pell” (formerly titled “The Ogre on the Bus”) is featured, along with 9 other fiction selections.  Carmen, Michael, and the whole team at One Small Step Games have done a fantastic job putting the magazine together, from the artwork to the layout to the selections.  This is one you’ll keep in your collection for a long time.

My contribution “Mr. Pell” came to be waaay back in 2008, when I encountered a very unique person in green tweed sitting across from me on the UMD campus shuttle.  In short order, I decided to create a story around him, set in the future of an alternate world I’d been imagining since at least 1999.  And if that’s not enough to get you excited about it, then consider this: it’s the story that made my friend Ricky yell “Go Sweden!” at the end.

Order through the One Small Step store.

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