Radical Archaeology

By Sierra Karas, Lit Fest 2019 Intern

Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of posts written by Lit Fest 2019 interns tasked with sharing notable experiences during the festival's two weeks. You can read the first here.

The wonder of being surrounded by writers is that you know you can create anything. There are as many possibilities for a story as there are for a life. As an intern at Lighthouse, I've done a variety of tasks from running the information booth to sorting name tags and organizing office supplies, but that's just on the surface.

Underneath, I'm imagining what it would be like to live in the Milheim House, what it was like for the Milheims to live here. I wonder who all the writers are that come and go and what they write. I look at the pages of passes and agent meetings and wonder how the staff at Lighthouse organizes, plans, brainstorms, coordinates, and puts on such an amazing festival.

I listen to words said, unsaid, and yet to be dreamed.

As much as people who come to Lighthouse are writers, they are dreamers. They're searching to make more out of the lives they’ve been given, and they have the courage to dig in and create new realities.

“Wonder—you have to become it and then you have to draw it back into yourself”

Our lives are built on the blocks of language, and as writers we use these words like thread to sew tapestries. But do you ever stop to ask where the thread comes from? I've been reminded again of the importance of etymology. To poetry, to writing, to weaving, to living.

Sew with thread,

Sow with seed,

Turn the page,

Turn the soil,

Cultivate the culture,

Plant your words,


Stretch your roots,

Find the thread that connects us all.

Dissecting words and disseminating narrative, I find that “queer” means “to twist.” It means unexpected, strange, curiosity, questioning. I find that “celebration” means “to call out.” It is an anchoring of wisdom—which is what we’re doing every time we write: celebrating. I suddenly feel like writing is more akin to archeology. We are digging up old bones and imagining fossils. With patience and practice, we must look closely at the ground we stand on. We must slowly brush away the dust. We must go on expeditions to far off places and relearn language. We study humans, and we make conjectures of the human condition. We study hermeneutics.

And yet, we’re more than scholars sitting at our desks, coffeeshops, houses. We are radicals, and as we write we both liberate and are liberated.

To continue doing so, it's imperative that we tear down the containers of genre, expand the notion of a book, amplify queer narratives, acknowledge the celebration present in every word we write, in every step we take. It's time that we break apart limiting, linear ways of thought to create space for membranous precincts*, for individual interpretation.

Remind yourself that you are not linear, and that you are under no obligation to arrange yourself in a way others understand. Bask in illegibility. Reconstruct, rejuvenate, reimagine language and carefully unravel the words you use. In doing this, you're breaking free of the capitalistic, dominate, egotistic, material, linear way of existing. You are liberating yourself and your readers. Writing can then be a way of life. A way of existing against the normative and creating a new narrative.

Let us become one,


Let us believe in self,



*from Ideal Suggestions: Essays in Divinatory Poetics by Selah Saterstrom

Sierra Karas is a sophomore at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, where she is exploring the intersections of artivism, curation, nonprofit management, museum education, and more. Sierra loves to write hybrid pieces, finding it the best way to explore the world’s multiplicities. As a Young Authors Collective and Lighthouse summer camp alum, she was excited to find a new way to be involved with Lighthouse by interning during Lit Fest 2019. Sierra was able to collaborate with other interns, staff, and writers to learn more about what it takes to run such an amazing event and was able to participate as a writer in a handful of salons and craft seminars.