Mark O'Brien
Hitler and Syphilis

Subject: Mark O'Brien and me

I have read Mark O'Brien's "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate" three times.

I could relate to some of Mark's comments, but not others.

I have cerebral palsy but my sexual development was damaged by a pituitary tumour. It was not until I was 60 years of age that I consulted a doctor on the matter. Then Viagra changed my life.

Reading Mark's piece encouraged me to call a 'sex worker' and I have lost my virginity at last.

The point is that I have written a great deal about my unusual life and also some highly-praised structured poetry. How can I get this published?

Please help.

--- Lance G.

Hi, Lance:

Thanks for your question about how to get your poetry and autobiography published.

Our best suggestion is that you follow the lead of some of the mauvens of the past: William Blake, Walt Whitman ... and Mark O'Brien himself. It's known as self-publishing. (Some wrongly call it "vanity publishing." I prefer to think of it as giving the world a chance to know and love our works.)

Here's what you do. Put together a chapbook of your best --- twenty, fifty, a hundred poems. Design a cover or, if you prefer, have an artistically inclined friend do it for you.

Include (always include) ordering information and price. Have some friends write blurbs for the back cover. If no one will do so, write some for yourself. (That's what Whitman did; he also wrote up some choice reviews of Leaves of Grass which he included in later editions.)

Call around and find the cheapest printer in town. Ask him how much he would charge to print and bind ... say ... a hundred copies of your book.

When you take delivery, send out ten or twenty copies to local and national magazines, newspapers, or online book reviews. Send a few to local and national CP organizations.

And then start selling copies. Get space at fairs, meetings ... or go out on the streets to sell them yourself. Remember that the magazine that first published Mark's poetry was The Sun of North Carolina. Sy Safransky started it by printing, folding, stapling it himself, selling copies on the streets of Chapel Hill.

If you exhaust the first printing, make the necessary corrections and changes and put out a second edition.

You don't need to have a miracle, but doing all this yourself can teach you more than you would ever believe about your ability as a writer, as, indeed, a believer in your own worth in the world.

--- Ed

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Subject: hitler and syphilis

Hitler had syphilis. Correct. In fact; ever see a pic of him in a bathing suit? Curious he never would expose any torso area of his body. How often do you see someone dressed in a tight tweed suit at the beach.

--- Greg

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