What made you want to submit this poem to our “Dear Queer” feature?
Poet Tobias Tegrotenhuis: The prompt immediately sat strangely with me because when I saw it, I was two and a half months shy of 22. I’d just graduated college. I still feel so uncertain living in this adulthood I didn’t think I’d see, and that almost made me think I wasn’t qualified to respond. But then I realized that even though I’m relatively young, that doesn’t mean my perspective doesn’t mean something. To acknowledge that tension, I put my letter-writing self decades in the future, letting them reach back to both my younger self and my current self with the message we both need to hear: you’re not out of time.
What drew you, artistically, to respond to this poem?
Artist Karen Cappotto: I feel a deeply personal connection to the poem every time I read it. Given this opportunity, I wanted to visually articulate what I was experiencing.
Do you often work within the constraints of prompts or exercises? Why or why not?
Poet Tobias Tegrotenhuis: I love prompts! Now that I’m working full time without much energy to write, prompts or exercises give me a much-needed push forward. Plus, sometimes I do a prompt alongside a friend or use prompts that require us to swap words, which gives both of us a lot of joy.
Artist Karen Cappotto: Poetry has been an influence on a lot of my work. I don’t go looking for this kind of inspiration, per se, but when I discover a poem that provides a meaningful structure to “hang” on my landscapes, it’s exciting. Meadowville, which this painting comes from, is an entire body of work that was a direct result of hearing Brian Teare recite his poem “Starthistle.”
Is queerness a subject of your creative work?
Poet Tobias Tegrotenhuis: Sometimes, but not always. I write about whatever haunts me for days on end and has to be put into writing because I can’t stop rolling phrases around in my head. I find that my work ends up being queer whether I intend it to be or not, because I am queer, but on other days writing my queerness takes a more conscious effort. There’s so much emotion in my queerness that makes for great writing, even when it gets sad. Right now I’m on a queer sci-fi kick, inspired by Franny Choi’s work and the dusty pulp sci-fi anthologies I grew up on, which were often unkind to or completely ignored the non-white, non-male, non-straight crowd.
Artist Karen Cappotto: I am dealing with the effects gentrification has on the Bohemian culture of Provincetown, a place I love so much. “Keeping Provincetown Queer” is an undercurrent throughout my paintings.
What is something you celebrate about queerness–in yourself or in your culture?
Poet Tobias Tegrotenhuis: I love seeing other queer people in public and feeling less alone, even for a moment. I love how we’re not going anywhere.
Artist Karen Cappotto: Creativity + inclusivity.
Do you remember any moment when an unexpected ally reached out to you as a younger queer?
Poet Tobias Tegrotenhuis: When teachers, parents, and other adults supported my friends as they came out over the years I watched and listened. They hadn’t reached out to be my ally, but remembering their kindness gave me strength years later when it was my turn.
Artist Karen Cappotto: My freshman year at Boston College I studied feminist theology and read books by Mary Daly, like Beyond God the Father. Taking Daly’s course was life-changing for me.
How did you choose the “Vectorization” site for your collaboration (pictured left) and, if anything were possible, where in the world would you most love to discover your broadside posted?
Poet Tobias Tegrotenhuis: I hung this up outside the Home Depot in my childhood neighborhood. I have so many memories of getting project supplies there with my parents, hiding from forklifts and gazing up at chandeliers in the lighting section; in easier times, home improvement projects were part of our family’s love language, and I still love building and crafting to this day. It felt right to go back there. Plus, true to the poem’s subject, I’ve been scouting around for supplies to fix a slow-flushing toilet and some water-stained drywall in my childhood home. I might have to go to Lowe’s.
Artist Karen Cappotto: I chose Commercial Street in Provincetown because people from all over the planet visit us here. But I’d love to post this anywhere in Sicily.
Read any good books lately?
Poet Tobias Tegrotenhuis: Constellation Route by Matthew Olzmann is absolutely brilliant. He’s got a beautiful world in this collection, where everything and everyone in it has something to say. Even in the funny and lighthearted letters, there’s a melancholy–the feeling that I’ve picked up something that I’ve either intercepted and will never reach its destination or was kept and cherished by the receiver long enough for it to make its way to someone else’s hands, like a distant relative’s hundred-year-old love letters. And some, despite their titles, feel uncomfortably addressed to me in a way that becomes inescapable yet comforting. I have a feeling that I’ll read this book until it falls apart.
Artist Karen Cappotto: Marlene Dumas, Measuring Your Own Grave.
Seen any good art lately?
Poet Tobias Tegrotenhuis: The student art pieces on display at Red Rocks Community College, where I currently work, are fantastic. I could walk around campus and look at them for hours. Also, Nope by Jordan Peele and the game Disco Elysium from ZA/UM. I firmly believe those count.
Artist Karen Cappotto: Most every day living in Ptown! But just yesterday I saw terrific shows at AMP Gallery and Provincetown Art Association and Museum.
Anything else? (Here, we invite the collaborators to invent a question, add a comment, or otherwise speak to what the questions so far have not tapped about their Broadsided experience).
Poet Tobias Tegrotenhuis: When was the last time you went to a Spirit Halloween? I’m going to one this weekend for the first time since high school. Maybe I’ll see you there.