The Queer Art of the Anthology: Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore and Zena Sharman in Conversation
In this conversation, authors Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore and Zena Sharman discuss their most recent anthologies, Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing Up with the AIDS Crisis and The Care We Dream Of: Liberatory and Transformative Approaches to LGBTQ+ Health. Together, they’ll explore the queer art of the anthology as both specific literary form and purposeful political and curatorial intervention.
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Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is the author, most recently, of The Freezer Door, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, one of Oprah Magazine’s Best LGBTQ Books of 2020, and a finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award. She’s the author of two nonfiction titles and three novels, and the editor of six nonfiction anthologies, most recently Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing Up with the AIDS Crisis, a finalist for a 2022 Lambda Literary Award. Her next book, Touching the Art, will be published in fall 2023. Sycamore lives in Seattle.
Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing up with the AIDS Crisis offers crucial stories from this missing generation in AIDS literature and cultural politics. This wide-ranging collection includes 36 personal essays on the ongoing and persistent impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis in queer lives. Here you will find an expansive range of perspectives on a specific generational story - essays that explore and explode conventional wisdom, while also providing a necessary bridge between experiences. These essays respond, with eloquence and incisiveness, to the question: How do we reckon with the trauma that continues to this day, and imagine a way out?
Zena Sharman is a writer, speaker, strategist and LGBTQ+ health advocate. She’s the editor of three anthologies. Her most recent collection is The Care We Dream Of: Liberatory and Transformative Approaches to LGBTQ+ Health. Zena edited the Lambda Literary award-winning anthology The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Health Care and co-edited the Lambda Literary award-nominated Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme, which was named a Stonewall Honour Book by the American Library Association. Zena’s also an engaging speaker who brings her passion for LGBTQ+ health to audiences of health care providers, students and community members at universities and conferences across North America. You can learn more about Zena and her work at https://zenasharman.com/
The Care We Dream Of offers possibilities—grounded in historical examples, present-day experiments, and dreams of the future—for more liberatory and transformative approaches to LGBTQ+ health and healing.
It weaves together the author's essays on topics like queering health and healing, transforming the health system, kinship, aging, and death, alongside stories, poetry and non-fiction pieces by Alexander McClelland and Zoe Dodd, Blyth Barnow, Carly Boyce, jaye simpson, Jillian Christmas, Joshua Wales, Kai Cheng Thom, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, and Sand C. Chang. It also includes interviews with activists, health care workers and researchers whose work offers insights into what liberatory and transformative approaches to LGBTQ+ health can look like in practice. Interviewees include Anita "Durt" O'Shea (of St. James Infirmary), Dawn Serra, Hannah Kia, Ronica Mukerjee, and Sean Saifa Wall.
The Care We Dream Of challenges readers to think differently about LGBTQ+ health and asks what it would look like if our health care were rooted in a commitment to the flourishing and liberation of all LGBTQ+ people. This book is a calling out, a out, a calling in, and a call to action. It is a spell of healing and transformation, rooted in love.