Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan

August 31, 2014

All 40 nonfiction books on modern polyamory

The covers of 16 polyamory books
Sixteen of 'em.

With More Than Two due to start shipping from Amazon day after tomorrow, I figured that this is a good time to take stock of the entire modern poly literature.

Here is an up-to-date descriptive list of every nonfiction book on polyamory published since the movement took shape in the mid-1980s (a few years before the word was coined in 1990 and 1992). As of Tuesday, there will be 39 titles!

The criteria for inclusion are:

"Nonfiction books entirely or substantially about polyamory as it's understood by today's movement, published since 1984, in English, in a printed edition."

Too many to choose from? I've highlighted my top general-interest recommendations with green bullets.

The titles link to my own reviews and roundups for ten of them, otherwise directly to Amazon or the publisher. The descriptions are mine except as quoted.

This is a much-updated repost of the booklist I originally created two years ago. I plan to keep this list up to date forever.

Interesting statistic: Of all the authors and co-authors, 32 are women, 10 are men, and 1 is genderqueer. That's a more than 3-to-1 ratio of women to men.

In reverse date order:

More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory, by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert (Thorntree Press, Sept. 2, 2014). For more than 15 years Franklin Veaux has run one of the world's most read and linked-to poly advice websites (now named More Than Two). But the material in the book is new. It is the first practical guide aimed directly at what Franklin calls the "second wave" of the poly movement: the growing influx of people since about 2010 who have been learning of poly not through alternative cultures but through more mainstream channels, and who are therefore blundering into every stereotypical mistake. (He gets mail. Lots of mail.)

More Than Two is a firmly grounded presentation of the poly-community wisdom that has evolved, through bitter trial and error, about what works and doesn't. And especially why. Short version: Self-knowledge, communication, and high ethics (defined largely as respect for other people's agency) are not nice extras, they are nearly mandatory for walking the multidimensional tightropes of poly webs without crashing. At 480 pages, the book delves deeply into many topics and strategies based on the authors' experiences and mistakes (which they tell about in many stories interspersed). These experiences, and those of many other people, led them to derive their foundational philosophy for good relationships of any kind. See the book's website. Disclosure: I'm biased; I edited the book.

Eight Things I Wish I'd Known About Polyamory (Before I Tried and Frakked It Up), by Cunning Minx (Do The Work, July 2014). Cunning Minx is the creator and hard-working host of the popular Polyamory Weekly podcast, which she began in 2005; it's about to hit its 400th episode. She presents workshops and seminars on ethical non-monogamy at poly conferences and other sex-positive venues, and has counseled thousands of people on the air and in person. One of her most popular classes is "Eight Things I Wish I'd Known About Polyamory (Before I Tried It and Frakked It Up)," about lessons she learned the hard way in her first years at this. She expanded the notes of the talk into an e-book, then self-published it as this 84-page paperback (login required).

It's snappily written, covers a great deal of solid poly wisdom fast and efficiently, and flows as smoothly as her podcast sounds. Topics covered include “poly as a custom job,” “write your user manual” (with a template for doing so), “Minx's hot communication tips”, “emotional ownership”, “make guidelines not rules”, “NRE is fun”, and “you don't have to do it alone.” Recommended. Here's a review by poly author Louisa Leontiades. The printed edition's internal design bears the common stigmata of self-published books (smallish type, too-wide margins, etc.).

Love Alternatively Expressed: The Scoop on Practicing Polyamory in Canada, by Zoe Hawksworth Duff (Filidh Publishing, March 2014). This is the self-published "story of a woman who, along with her partners, has been a Canadian public face for the cause of legal recognition for the loving poly families who raise healthy children in homes where many adults share one love. Her affidavit along with members of four other Canadian families was presented to the BC Supreme Court in the 2010 reference case on Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada (the Polygamy law). She shares her experiences and wisdom in an entertaining and informative read" (publisher's description). Contains much on the very public 2010–11 legal saga establishing that informal polyamory (unlike polygamy) is legal in Canada. The design has the common problems of self-published books (small type, too-wide margins, etc.).

The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families, by Elisabeth Sheff (Rowman & Littlefield, Nov. 2013). In this long-awaited book, sociologist Elisabeth Sheff presents her conclusions and insights from 15 years of studying poly people and households, and especially their children. While the subjects of her book sometimes show their flaws and awkwardnesses with the clarity of word-for-word-transcripts, overall she finds the adults of her study to be highly capable and mature and their children to be at least as thriving and robust as the average, probably more so. Here's more (including how to get 20% off the high list price).

The Jealousy Handbook: Exercises and insights for managing open relationships, by Kathy Labriola (Greenery Press, Sept. 2013). The poly movement has long outgrown its early utopian idea that good polys don't get jealous. Today the community universally teaches that jealousy is normal, and what matters is how everyone understands and handles it. The conventional wisdom is that breakthroughs can come from examining and analyzing it: sometimes for rooting up your own fears and insecurities to analyze under the bright light of day — and sometimes as a valuable early-warning signal that some real problem exists external to you, sensed by the gut before the conscious mind sees it.

Kathy Labriola has professionally counselled hundreds of poly individuals and groups in the Bay Area for more than 20 years. Drawing on this long practice, she has compiled a big (8½ by 11 inch) open-relationship jealousy workbook. It presents 42 practical exercises, embedded in chapters on determining whether an open relationship is right for you, understanding your jealousy and its roots, determining its triggers, determining whether it may be rational for the situation at hand, and intervention strategies for managing it and addressing common external problems. The book includes chapters on best-practice communication skills for polyfolks and jealousy tips and techniques from other professionals with expertise in open relationships.

Not Your Mother's Playground: A realistic guide to honest, happy, and healthy open relationships, by Samantha Fraser (Creative Junction, May 2013). Samantha Fraser is an outspoken poly activist in Toronto, organizer of Toronto's annual Playground conference, and keynote speaker at Canada's first PolyCon. She and her husband proudly represent the swinger/poly interface. This book presents her many insights on the practicalities of making open relationships work, drawn from and described by her abundant personal experience. (If you don't like small print, get the Kindle or ebook edition.)

Polyamory and Pregnancy, by Jessica Burde (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, March 2013). Burde is the mother of three children born into polyamorous relationships, has lived in polyfamilies for much of the last 10 years, and has seen a great deal of the good and the bad. She discusses many  considerations you may not have thought of, starting before conception and continuing through birth. Burde runs the thoughtful Polyamory on Purpose blog of practical information and advice. The book is the first in a series of Polyamory on Purpose Guides that she plans to publish about once a year. Future titles, she says, include Safer Sex for the Non-Monogamous, The Poly Home and Raising Children in Polyamory.

The Husband Swap, by Louisa Leontiades (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, September 2012). Louisa Leontiades — born in Cyprus, raised in England, and living in Sweden — is a passionate, prolific, articulate new writer on the poly internets. This is her novelistic memoir of the tumultous, devoted, but ultimately failed quad that launched her and her husband on their current poly trajectory. A review comments, "For my solo poly lifestyle, I find the story aching with couple- and poly-normativity, but really, this can be forgiven since this is a memoir and it's highly unlikely that anyone entering into polyamory for the first time wouldn't try it this way."

Rewriting the Rules: An Integrative Guide to Love, Sex and Relationships, by Meg Barker (Routledge, September 2012). This is an insightful self-help guide to digging out unexamined social assumptions that govern your relationship life, looking at them directly, and deciding which to keep and which to remake. Barker has long been a poly activist as well as an academic and relationship therapist. The mono-or-poly choice is only one of seven relationship topics that she presents for readers to examine, but all of them are important for poly living. Review by Louisa Leontiades.

The Art and Etiquette of Polyamory: A Hands-on Guide to Open Sexual Relationships, by Françoise Simpère (Skyhorse Publishing, February 2011). Simpère is a widely published and quoted open-relationship advocate in France. This is a translation of her Aimer Plusieurs Hommes (2003). Writes Franklin Veaux: "Describes the author's process of coming to her own polyamorous arrangement, and talks about the rules and ideas that keep her relationships healthy and happy. It's written from a very specific perspective (long-term couples who want lovers on the side), and as such describes only one particular kind of polyamory."

Power Circuits: Polyamory in a Power Dynamic by Raven Kaldera (Alfred Press, December 2010). From the publisher's description: "Power Circuits is an alliance between two alternative lifestyles: polyamory... and power dynamics: relationships that choose to be consciously and deliberately unequal in power, such as dominant/submissive or master/slave.... Navigates the waters of effective polyamory and power exchanges, with many essays from the brave practitioners who swim there."

Love in Abundance: A Counselor's Guide to Open Relationships, by Kathy Labriola (Greenery Press, October 2010). Labriola is a nurse and counselor in the San Francisco Bay Area who has professionally advised hundreds of poly families and groups and observed the poly scene for more than 20 years. She offers distilled practical advice from this long experience.

What Does Polyamory Look Like? Polydiverse Patterns of Loving and Living in Modern Polyamorous Relationships, by Mim Chapman (iUniverse, August 2010). When people say "I'm poly," they may mean very different things. This is a lighthearted but serious guide to navigating among five major styles of polyamory widely practiced in the community today.

Love Unlimited: The Joys and Challenges of Open Relationships, by Leonie Linssen and Stephan Wik (Findhorn Press, August 2010). A relationship coach in the Netherlands who specializes in multipartner counseling describes the commonest recurring patterns and problems among her clients, and means to their resolution. She devotes 12 chapters to 12 composite case histories, with very different people and situations.

Polyamory in the 21st Century: Love and Intimacy with Multiple Partners, by Deborah Anapol (Rowman & Littlefield, July 2010). One of the founding mothers of the modern polyamory movement in the 1980s and 1990s takes a careful, sociologist's look at the state of the movement she helped to create.

Border Families, Border Sexualities in Schools, by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli (Rowman & Littlefield, June 2010). A health and social-development professor in Australia "explores the experiences of bisexual students, mixed sexual orientation families, and polyamorous families in schools."

Understanding Non-Monogamies, edited by Meg Barker and Darren Langdridge (Routledge, 2010; in paperback 2013). An academic collection of 25 papers and essays on styles of open relationships in various cultural contexts, especially in different parts of today's poly culture.

Beyond Monogamy: Lessons from Long-Term Male Couples In Non-Monogamous Relationships, by Lanz Lowen and Blake Spears (free ebook February 2010; issued in paperback March 2012). This is a comprehensive report on the authors' famous Couples Study of gay couples, especially their approaches to nonmonogamy. A small number were living in triads or poly families, and a larger number had considered such arrangements. The authors' description: "Although non-monogamy is prevalent in the gay community, information about how couples navigate this terrain is surprisingly lacking. As a long-term couple (36 years) we had experienced ups and downs and an on-going evolution in our approach to living in a non-monogamous relationship. We were curious about the experience of others and assumed many long-term couples might offer valuable perspectives and hard-earned lessons. The study summarizes data from the 86 couples we interviewed and provides many verbatim quotes illustrating themes, issues and things to consider."

Swinging in America: Love, Sex, and Marriage in the 21st Century, by Curtis R. Bergstrand and Jennifer Blevins Sinski (Praeger, November 2009). The first 40% of this book is a study of the swinger subculture and the people in it. The second 60% is a critique of monogamous ideology in Western society, and this, Bergstrand has told poly conferences, he considers to be the most important part of the book.

Many Hearts, Many Loves, Many Possibilities: The Polyamory Relationship Workbook, by Christina Parker (Alfred Press, 2009). From the publisher's description: "This book provides a tool for everyone seeking to look beyond their fears, fantasies, and stereotypes and step into the reality of polyamory relationships.... A combination of information, insight, and detailed questionnaire, it is designed to help people get a clear understanding of who they are, what they want, and what they need in order to maintain a fulfilling relationship of any kind."

Gaia and the New Politics of Love: Notes for a Poly Planet, by Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio (North Atlantic Books, September 2009). This ethereal, philosophical polemic for multiple love as an opening to saving the world spends much of its time diverted into embarrassing New Age HIV denialism.

The Ethical Slut, Second Edition; A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures, by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy (Ten Speed Press, March 2009). Expanded by 30% and now aiming for a wider audience, this is a new edition of the 1997 word-of-mouth classic published by Greenery Press (for which Hardy used the pseudonym "Catherine A. Liszt"). It is still the most popular book on the networked or "free agent" model of poly — though it now includes an added chapter on opening an existing couple relationship.

Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, by Tristan Taormino (Cleis Press, May 2008). If The Ethical Slut is the bible of free-agent "single" poly, Opening Up has become the top choice for couples looking to open an existing committed relationship — of whatever sort. Tristan Taormino, a brassy star among America's sexerati, did exhaustive work interviewing more than 100 people and couples in a dizzying variety of open and poly arrangements successful and not. Learn from them.

Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage, by Jenny Block (Seal Press, May 2008). With a husband, daughter, and long-term girlfriend, Dallas writer Jenny Block fearlessly puts herself out as an exemplar of successful open marriage and bold Texas feminism.

The Polyamory Handbook: A User's Guide, by Peter J. Benson (Author House, March 2008). A longtime poly-community stalwart and activist compiles a big, workmanlike guide to every Poly 101 and 201 issue you can think of.

Open Fidelity: An A-Z Guide, by Anna Sharman (Purple Sofa Publications, September 2006). A small book (36 pages) from England. From the cover description: "A brief introduction to most of the important issues around monogamy and non-monogamy, honesty and fidelity. It covers all the plus points of honest open relationships and many of the potential problems, from jealousy and time management to telling your kids – in a simple alphabetical format, with cross-references for easy navigation and quotes from those with lived experience of Open Fidelity." (Now available free online.)

Polyamory Many Loves: The Poly-Tantric Lovestyle: A Personal Account, by Janet Kira Lessin (Author House, 2006). The controversial creator of the New Agey "World Polyamory Association" publishes many of her internet pieces in book form.

Pagan Polyamory: Becoming a Tribe of Hearts, by Raven Kaldera (Llewellyn Publications, 2005). Publisher's description: "Relating polyamory to astrology and the elements (air, fire, water, earth, and spirit), the author addresses all aspects of the polyamorous life, including family life, sexual ethics, emotional issues, proper etiquette, relationship boundaries, and the pros of cons of this lifestyle. Kaldera discusses polyamory as a path of spiritual transformation and shares spells, rituals, and ceremonies." Pete Benson comments, "There is also plenty of good wisdom here about polyamory in general, so if Paganism is not your spiritual path, do not be turned off."

Plural Loves: Designs For Bi And Poly Living, edited by Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio (The Haworth Press, January 2005). A collection of 18 substantial academic and general-audience essays that, according to the introduction, "point to the effervescence in current bisexuality and polyamory discourse and the benefits of having them resonate with each other."

Polyamory: Roadmaps for the Clueless and Hopeful, by Anthony Ravenscroft (Fenris Brothers/ Crossquarter Publishing Group, 2004). This book is idea-rich, opinionated, idiosyncratic, and resolutely hard-headed — bordering on cynical — but it needed an editor; it's wordy and overwritten. Contains food for thought if you can work past its annoyances. (The bibliography, with commentary, includes books important to the development of poly thought earlier than this present list, from James Ramey to Joan and Larry Constantine to Robert Rimmer to Wilhelm Reich to Judge Ben Lindsey to... Niccolo Machiavelli??)

The Sex and Love Handbook: Polyamory! Bisexuality! Swingers! Spirituality! (and even) Monogamy! A Practical Optimistic Relationship Guide, By Kris A. Heinlein and Rozz M. Heinlein, no relations to science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein (Do Things Records and Publishing, 2004). I haven't seen this; others call it lightweight and carelessly edited. Publisher's description: "Explores the most sensual sexual organ: the human brain. Explore the emotions, philosophies, risks and rewards of reaching toward your next sexual level. Nothing is out of bounds except dishonesty and hypocrisy." Swinger oriented.

Poly Communication Survival Kit: The Essential Tools for Building and Enhancing Relationships, by Robert McGarey (Human Potential Center, 2004, 2001, 1999). "The goal of this book: to provide in brief and usable form all the basic tools you need in order to communicate well, even in difficult circumstances." McGarey helped to spread learnable methods for excellent communication that the poly culture now widely holds as ideals. Currently available in a new printing (2013) and as an e-book. Says poly coach Dawn Davidson, "It's still good solid information."

Spiritual Polyamory, by Mystic Life (iUniverse, 2003). A small collection of the author's essays and musings to "help you to open your mind and heart to a fresh approach to intimacy."

Redefining Our Relationships: Guidelines for Responsible Open Relationships, by Wendy-O Matik (Defiant Times Press, 2002). An important early poly book among punk, anarchist, and radical street cultures, especially in the Bay Area, where Matic remains active today inspiring and guiding people in alternative relationships. Presents thoughtful guidelines for do-it-yourself relationship structures. Says Franklin Veaux: "Explores the realities of day-in, day-out nonmonogamy, particularly as a conscious political and social act."

The New Intimacy: Open-Ended Marriage and Alternative Lifestyles, by Ronald Mazur (iUniverse, 2000). From the publisher's description: "Now is an opportune and urgent time to give voice to the intimacies of alternative lifestyles, including open marriage.... It is to non-traditionalists, to those ready for new life and love affirmations, that this book is offered with joy. The evolution of human consciousness prepares the way for the unfolding of our universal polyamorous potential. Let the pioneers be unafraid to move beyond the ancient limits of relationships to the new intimacy of responsible erotic freedom."

The Lesbian Polyamory Reader: Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Casual Sex, edited by Marcia Munson and Judith Stelboum (The Haworth Press, 1999). From the publisher's description: "If your own lesbian relationship lies outside the traditional monogamous couple model, you're definitely not alone. You'll find successful models of relationship styles from cover to cover.... Calls upon a broad scope of writers, professional women and academics.... Focuses on the social implications of this love phenomenon, bringing it into a more inclusive circle of discussion for lesbians, educators, and students of sociology and sexology."

Lesbian Polyfidelity: A Pleasure Guide For All Women Whose Hearts are Open to Multiple Sexualoves, or, How to Keep Nonmonogamy Safe, Sane, Honest and Laughing, You Rogue!, by Celeste West (Booklegger Publishing, 1996). Comments Sex Geek blogger Andrea Zanin: "Upbeat, quirky, explicitly feminist, and sprawling in scope, this one’s a mishmash of advice columns, conceptual musings, practical advice and personal insights. A bit essentialist but full of yummy ideas nonetheless."

Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits: Secrets of Sustainable Intimate Relationships, by Deborah Anapol (IntiNet Resource Center, 1997; a revision and expansion of her original Love Without Limits: The Quest for Sustainable Intimate Relationships: Responsible Nonmonogamy, 1992). Deborah Anapol's book was the bible of the early modern poly movement and for some time was practically its only book. She takes a spiritual approach to love and sex that continues to resonate with some people and not others. Introduced seminal insights on jealousy and how to handle it.

Breaking the Barriers to Desire: Polyamory, Polyfidelity and Non-Monogamy – New Approaches To Multiple Relationships, edited by Kevin Lano and Claire Parry (Five Leaves Publications [Nottingham, UK], 1995). From the introduction: "This book will aim to show that 'responsible non-monogamy' can be both a positive choice at a personal level and a radicalising current in society, providing a true alternative to the dependence and exclusion of traditional monogamy and the lack of responsibility and honesty in covert non-monogamy." Writes a reviewer: "There are personal stories, some chunky theoretical pieces, a history of non-monogamy, an article about the life of a non-monogamous woman in the early 1800s, and an exploration of Christian theological justifications for monogamy and polygyny... all in 137 pages."

Loving More: The Polyfidelity Primer, 3rd edition, by Ryam Nearing (PEP Publishing, 1992, 1989, 1984). If there was one central instigator of the modern polyamory movement, Ryam Nearing would be it. Focusing especially on closed polyfidelity, she was the sparkplug who built Loving More magazine and its conferences, the movement's central nexus before the internet. Her early how-to manual The Polyfidelity Primer went through several editions and is now a hard-to-find collector's item.



August 28, 2014

Polygamy and polyamory decriminalization becomes law in Utah

Kody Brown poses with his wives (from left) Janelle, Christine, Meri and Robyn in a promotional photo for TLC's reality TV show Sister Wives.

The victory that the polygamous Kody Brown family won in federal court last December became final with a judge's ruling yesterday (August 27th) — unless the state of Utah succeeds in overturning it on a possible appeal.

Federal Judge Clark Waddoups ruled last December 13th that Utah cannot continue to outlaw cohabitation with another person while married, nor can it outlaw people calling each other "husbands" and "wives" informally as long as they do not purport to have more than one official marriage. Yesterday, Judge Waddoups additionally ruled that the Browns are entitled to attorneys' fees, settling the last count in the case. It is now legal for three or more people to live together as partners in Utah.

At least for now. The state has 30 days to decide whether to appeal.

The Browns are members of a small Mormon sect, but legally they are identical to a secular polyamorous group. They claim only one legal marriage among them (between Kody and his first wife); the others file their taxes as single and do not otherwise claim marriage benefits. Attempting to have two marriage licenses active at once remains against the law.

A National Public Radio story, with links:

Federal Judge Strikes Down Part Of Utah's Polygamy Ban

...The case is high profile partly because the suit was brought forth by the Brown family, the stars of the TLC show Sister Wives. It's also important because as it works its way through the appeals process, it has the potential to become a landmark.

As the Salt Lake Tribune reads the decision, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups says the part of the law that prohibits cohabitation between adults to whom they are not legally married violates both the First and 14th Amendments.

The paper adds:

"Utah law made such a union a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Waddoups said the ban violated the First and 14th amendments to the Constitution.

"Waddoups let stand the portion of the statute that prevents someone from having more than one active marriage license.

"In the final portion of his ruling Wednesday, Waddoups found the Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman violated the Browns' constitutional rights when he oversaw a 2010 investigation into whether the Brown family was committing bigamy. At the time the Browns lived in Lehi. They have since moved to Nevada. Buhman eventually decided not to file criminal charges, but Waddoups said the investigation stifled the Browns' rights to free speech, religion and equal protection."

...In a blog post, the Brown family's lawyer, Jonathan Turley, said he hopes that the AG will not appeal the case. He said that Americans should not fear prosecution solely because of the structure of their family.

"Neither the Attorney General nor the state of Utah should fight a ruling that reaffirmed freedom of religion and equal protection," Turley wrote. "Utah is a state that was founded by citizens seeking those very rights against government abuse. Utah is a better place because of the courageous decision of Judge Waddoups and the commitment of the Brown family in defense of our Constitution."

See the original (Aug. 28, 2014).

The judge's ruling.

Good backgrounder from Buzzfeed, with more links: Polygamy Is Legal In Utah, For Now.

From an Associated Press story:

"This was a historic ruling that I believe will stand the test of time," [the Browns' lawyer Jonathan] Turley said. He said the family would continue the legal battle to an appeals court or even the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

The Browns said they were forced to leave Utah for Las Vegas in 2011 in fear of prosecution. Turley said Wednesday he didn't know if the Brown family would return in the wake of the ruling.

"The important thing is that they now can move back to Utah," Turley said, adding that the family has missed the state. "They now have the choice."

Fundamentalist Mormon polygamists believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. The mainstream Mormon church strictly prohibits the practice.

Utah governor Gary Herbert is urging his attorney general to appeal. From thenewcivilrightsmovement.com: "Utah Republican Attorney General Sean Reyes, who is fighting to retain his position in the November election, will likely appeal the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. Reyes has also mounted an expensive full-frontal attempt to defend Utah's same-sex marriage ban."

New York magazine notes,

Antiquated anti-cohabitation laws are apparently still on the books in three states: Florida, Michigan, and Mississippi. And of course, plenty of non-Mormons cohabit with multiple partners as well. They just call it polyamory.


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August 25, 2014

Review of the play MMF, and other poly theater pieces

MMF play logo
Remember my announcement about MMF, a new play in New York about a poly breakup?

Well, some of you went, and here's a review. A key excerpt:

By Allan Hunter

...Within the first 4 minutes of the lights going up, Dean states that he's missing someone he is "not supposed to miss", which both introduces [his] reminiscences and sets the emotional tone of the threesome's knotted tangle of unspoken rules and undefined obligations.

Mike Mizwicki, Courtney Alana Ward and Andrew Rincón gave a compellingly stark and believable portrayal of anguished individuals in interaction. Their respective characters, Dean, Jane and Michael, exuded a most infectious frustration that quickly made me want to backhand each of them in turn. Polyamory is a lifestyle choice that requires communication and emotional patience and honesty, a point illustrated in MMF by displaying the outcome of their absence. At no point did any of the trio attempt to discuss with the others what it was that they were doing and how they ought to go about doing it. Not once was the word "polyamory" mentioned, nor was there any sign at any time that they'd noticed that there exists a polyamorous community or that polyamorous people have issues that might be of concern to them. It was not obvious whether they'd ever discussed whether they would opt for sexual exclusivity among the three of them... but we see both Dean and Michael becoming upset when two of the members of the trio have sex in the absence of the third and again when one has sex with an outside person.

We observe them flying blindly in the fog, trying to relate to each other without definitions.... All three are immature and insecure; they badger each other, deliberately inflicting guilt or trying to evoke a sense of obligation as they pry at each other for reassurances that they then cannot believe....

MMF is a well-wrought drama rendered by the three actors in evocatively unsettling tones and phrases and punctuated with awkward pauses. The material is solidly and believably human, the characters three-dimensionally real. But, as my partner Anais remarked, "I'd hate for people to see this and think that this is what polyamory is like!" (I replied, "Yes, that would be as bad as seeing Romeo and Juliet and thinking, 'Oh, so that's what dating is like!'")...

Go read his whole review (Aug. 22, 2014).

Theater buff Mischa Lin of Open Love NY notes,

The play was pretty good, well-acted and one of the more realistic portrayals of a poly situation. I wish it had a little more awareness of polyamory, but this was a scenario where people just fall into it without the education and support of a community. From that perspective, The Three of Us, the winning play in my playwright competition [link], was a far superior play because at least one of the characters actually understood what polyamory is and acted with intention. Those are the stories that will be far more interesting than the accidental threesome stories we’ve seen so far in the vast majority of drama.


Another, more aware piece of theater is Lust & Marriage, a one-woman performance that played earlier this year in Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Seattle and Portland. From the show's description:

Eleanor O’Brien
Dance Naked Productions Artistic Director Eleanor O’Brien explores the search for love, lust and life partners in this candid look at modern marriage. Does hot monogamy exist? Can polyamory save the happily ever after? #WWDSD? (“What Would Dan Savage Do?”) In this revealing solo performance, O’Brien examines cultural beliefs around monogamy, monotony, jealousy and polyamory from a highly personal perspective. With heaps of humor...

Two-minute trailer.

Here's a review by Ron Richardson; you know him from Cunning Minx's Polyamory Weekly (June 8, 2014).

review by SeattlePolyChick (June 7, 2014).

And another, in Willamette Week (Jan. 14, 2014).

Interested in more poly theater? Here are all my posts tagged "plays" (including this one; scroll down).



August 23, 2014

Stories from the Polycule and Game Changer: two more books coming from Thorntree Press

When Franklin Veaux first tried to interest publishers in the book that would become More Than Two, they told him they weren't interested in a how-to poly book; they wanted his personal memoir. So he and his sweetie Eve Rickert, who knew the writing and publishing business, founded their own imprint, Thorntree Press, to bring out More Than Two, which they ended up writing together.

The book launches in 10 days. A few hundred are already in circulation, drawing great reviews. Amazon starts shipping it then, and Eve and Franklin will begin their West Coast book tour.

They hoped from the outset that this would work well enough for them to keep the company going and publish more alt-relationship nonfiction. Now they have two additional books in the works for 2015, and they're looking for more. One is Franklin's memoir, to be titled Game Changer, which he's currently writing. (If mainstream publishers thought it would sell, it's probably a good bet.) The other will be Elisabeth Sheff's Tales from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families, which she's had brewing since last winter.

Elisabeth is the sociologist who published The Polyamorists Next Door nearly a year ago. Much of that book is about her years of work researching polyfamilies and their kids. Tales from the Polycule will be, according to Thorntree,

an anthology of work from people living in polyamorous families. Editor Elisabeth Sheff is currently seeking submissions for the anthology. Are you a member of a poly family and willing to share your story (anonymously) with the world? Consider writing a brief entry.

Submissions are due by October 15.

Submissions can:

-- Range in length from a few sentences to 3,000 words long, depending on your age, the format you select, and how much you have to say.

-- Take the form of essays, short stories, poetry, drawings, photographs, or whatever else you create that can be depicted in a two-dimensional format.

-- Use pseudonyms or real names — be as anonymous or out as you wish.

-- Come from anyone who identifies as a member of a polyamorous family composed of all adults, adults and kids, or some other mix of folks who identify as family.

To submit a contribution to Stories from the Polycule, please email them to drelisheff {at} gmail.com by October 15, 2014.

Topics you might consider include (but are not limited to)....

Read on.



August 20, 2014

Offbeat Bride: "Angi & Bret's polyamorous backyard wedding"

Offbeat Bride features another poly wedding story with lots of pictures. This one's by activist Angi Becker Stevens, who unofficially married her boyfriend while still married to her husband, who assisted at the wedding. She wrote about their plans nearly a year ago in Salon and more recently in another story in Offbeat Bride. It all happened as planned.

Angi & Bret's polyamorous backyard wedding

Poly V and daughter
New husband Bret, Angi, daughter, legal husband Kory. (Photo: Josh Barnhart) 

As a polyamorous couple having a non-legal ceremony, our wedding was inherently pretty offbeat. We had a very small budget, and a primary goal of having a celebration that really felt like a reflection of our personalities and our relationship. We DIYed practically everything, from the invitations to the 400 paper flowers for the bouquets and the centerpieces to the iTunes reception playlist to the ceremony itself. My other partner, Kory (who I've been legally married to for 12 years), cooked the amazing food (a vegetarian burrito bar!) for our reception....

Our ceremony took place in an amphitheater in a gorgeous park that has a lot of personal significance for us.... We created the ceremony from scratch, with the help of Offbeat Bride's tremendously helpful Ceremony 101 article....

...Sometime during the reception when we were drinking and dancing, my other partner, Kory, said excitedly to me, "We did it! We made a wedding!" He was really happy with how smoothly the catering went and felt very satisfied after the immense amounts of work he had put into it....

Read on, with lotsa pix (Aug. 20, 2014).

And here's a previous poly wedding featured at Offbeat Bride, with links to more.



August 19, 2014

Times of India: "Polyamorous relationships are a reality. Are you game?" And, a seed in a remote village.

The world's largest-circulation English-language newspaper prints this today in its Bangalore edition:

Polyamorous relationships are a reality. Are you game?

By Parinatha Sampath & Dhwani Desai

In a world in which variety is the spice of life, more and more people are now opening up to the idea of being polyamorous, i.e., being in more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved....

Polyamorous is about being honest

"Being polyamorous doesn't mean that you are cheating on your partner," clarifies Santosh Srinivas, a city-based consultant. A polyamorous person is honest and open with his/her partner about their desire to be in a relationship with them and other people at the same time, and also seeks their approval.... Vasanth R, a consultant, who has been polyamourous for three years, also emphasizes on the need for honestly. "It is very important to be honest with your partner. Such relationships are only possible if all partners are absolutely open. Everyone involved should also like each other, or it will never work."

Free of complications

But does being in several relationships tend to get complicated? "Not at all. Issues only tend to crop up if one partner gets clingy. A lot of it has to do with maturity. Sure, there's jealousy, but one needs to weigh their options and see what is more important — jealousy or living a life based on certain principles. I'm sure betrayal does take place even in polyamorous relationships, but that is the case with any relationship. It shouldn't stop you from looking for new relationships. Everything must be talked about and reasoned out," says Vasanth.

It's not all about sex....

Monogamy is overrated

Priya Suresh, a homemaker, has been married for nine years and says that she would like to explore polyamory since she thinks that monogamy is unnatural.... Also, I feel that such relationships will change the way men think about women. Men tend to have the upper hand in relationships and when both partners are open to seeing others, the woman will not be taken for granted."

Read the whole article (Aug. 19, 2014).

Also, in The Times of India last month: a short description of the open-marriage option for those looking for alternatives to traditional marriage (July 7, 2014):

This one is probably one of the hardest relationship trends and is mostly misunderstood by couples. An open marriage or an open relationship is being together but having an understanding that if you wish to [step] out of the relationship, you are free to do that without being questioned or emotionally targeted by the other person.

And a while back, at least one edition ran an interview with the U.K's Meg Barker, poly researcher and author of the then-recently-published book Rewriting the Rules.


In other poly news from India, remember the independent movie 3 on a Bed? Its starry-eyed fimmakers, Rajdeep Paul and Sarmistha Maiti, went on to write the story as a novella and publish it as part of a book by the same name.

"3 in a bed" polyamory movie poster from India

From Rajdeep Paul's Facebook page for the book and movie:

By destiny’s design a film was made and a book written by our hands by the name of “3 on a Bed,” but its reach went so far beyond our wildest dreams that it keeps cropping up surprises on us each passing day. From being embraced by the polyamorous community in Australia, to a website being made by admirers in free, to being termed as “post postmodern” by a bunch of sociologists in Hyderabad University....

.... but what happened today takes the cream. At around 5 pm, I get a call from a boy who says he has read the book and wants to talk to me. The boy heralds from a small village in Panshkura, Medinipur, West Bengal called Narayan Murailpur, where there is no electricity and mobile signal is so weak that the phone disconnected 8 times within a 10 minute conversation. AND this particular boy, Shankha Chakravorty, has read the book recommended by a theater worker from Panshkura, and he is completely overwhelmed by the story “3 on a Bed.” Not only he, but a few others in their village have read it despite their difficulty with English…. He has even narrated the story to his mother and sister and they have connected with it too!!!... In his words… “You could have made it titillating and raunchy if you wanted to… but what you have done instead is a beautifully touching love story… there is nothing dirty, nothing ugly (kono noshtami nei, kono nongrami nei)… how can one not connect with it….” His only request to me, “Please write something for us in Bengali…” What more can a creator want?

Here are all my posts tagged India/South Asia (including this one; scroll down).