“Letter With My Ghost”
What made you want to submit this poem to our “Dear Queer” feature?
Poet Sebastian Merrill: This poem is a part of a longer collection I am currently working on titled Ghost :: Seeds. Incorporating elements of magical realism and myth, Ghost :: Seeds explores a dialogue between a trans speaker and his former self, the woman he left behind in order to transition. The project of this book felt like a perfect match for the “Dear Queer” feature.
What drew you, artistically, to respond to this poem?
Artist Lisa Sette: The poem speaks to things I attempt to capture with imagery at night, like the space between. That’s something I’m drawn to.
Do you often work within the constraints of prompts or exercises? Why or why not?
Poet Sebastian Merrill: Yes, I am often inspired by constraints of prompts or exercises. This poem, for example, came out of my desire to write a contrapuntal poem that could hold two voices on one page. I’m really interested in pushing against traditional forms.
Artist Lisa Sette: No, I don’t. A lot of my work is an exercise in color. I like playing with color and blur. When I choose an image for Broadsided, it’s instinctual and very much in response to language. I really like this poem. It resonates with me. And when a piece resonates with me, it creates a path to an image.
Is queerness a subject of your creative work?
Poet Sebastian Merrill: As a queer and trans writer, queerness inevitably is a focus of my creative work. I’m especially interested in how I can queer the text itself—what does it look like to push against forms, to push into new ways of playing with language, with content?
Artist Lisa Sette: Always. I’m a queer. I look at the world as a queer and that informs a lot, especially these days with Ron DeSantis flying around. Whether it’s intentional or not, my life informs my work.
What is something you celebrate about queerness–in yourself or in your culture?
Poet Sebastian Merrill: Coming out as queer and trans has enabled me to be authentically myself. I find a lot of joy, beauty, and growth within my queer community.
Artist Lisa Sette: I want to first state that I can’t speak for all queers, but I am very very fortunate that I have such creative, fun, amazing queers in my world, including some of the people at Broadsided. By living and loving and having such amazing queers in my life, I feel like I can provide an example of how, even if your blood family collapses, you can have a chosen family that is really beautiful and supported.
Do you remember any moment when an unexpected ally reached out to you as a younger queer?
Poet Sebastian Merrill: I was the first student in the history of my high school to come out publicly as queer. I was really grateful at the time for the support I received from my teachers and friends. Throughout my life, I am always so grateful for the support I receive from straight and cisgender friends and colleagues.
Artist Lisa Sette: I grew up in a very conservative, rural/suburban area. In my first year of college, I was struggling with my queerness, and a pre-law student, someone I would never have expected to have noticed the struggle I was having, gave me the best advice I could get as an 18-year-old. “Don’t worry,” she said. “Believe in yourself. You just need to get out of here and be in a different community. You will find your people.” In a lot of ways, that community, for me, ended up being Provincetown in the summers. There, I could live make enough money for my college tuition. Being in a queer-positive community changed my life.
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 Sebastian Merrill: I am a yoga instructor and I posted my picture outside of the studio in Northampton, MA where I teach weekly classes. So much of my writing and my yoga teaching is about the integration of body and mind, and this poem speaks to that connection as well. I would love to see this poem anywhere young queer folks would find it.
Artist Lisa Sette: Dream space? In a young, queer space. Maybe in the backstage zone of a high school theater department, somewhere a person could discover it alone, in the shadows. A secret love note.
Read any good books lately?
Poet Sebastian Merrill: I just finished reading Lars Horns’ gorgeous and brilliant lyric essay Voice of the Fish. I am currently reading Jacoby Ballard’s inspiring A Queer Dharma: Yoga and Meditations for Liberation. A must-read for anyone interested in yoga and social justice work.
Artist Lisa Sette: I’m reading a collection of work on climate change, All We Can Save, to try and figure out a way to remain energized when confronting such a difficult truth about our world.
Seen any good art lately?
Poet Sebastian Merrill: Daniela Molnar’s “New Earth” paintings, which, in her words, “are an attempt to show how climate change is reshaping our planet and our embodied experience of it.” And non-binary/transgender artist Buzz Slutzky’s drawings and video work always bring me so much joy.
Artist Lisa Sette: Jen Bradley‘s oil paintings of gorillas, which I’ve seen at the Schoolhouse Gallery in Provincetown, are really amazing. Especially the ones with color. And Dina Martina, always.