Remembering Mike Seybert
On March 14, one of The Mill's vital Board members died of natural causes following a brief illness. In addition to serving as our Treasurer, Mike Seybert managed many board meetings, scheduled classes, and wrote many blog posts and announcements for the website. We are devastated by this loss and will miss Mike's smile, good humor, and dedication to The Mill community.
Emily Bowles, Mill Board Member and a workshop classmate of Mike's, has written the following tribute in memory of Mike. We all send our condolences to Mike's family and friends. May he rest in peace.
What is an author if not the architect of stories? Mike Seybert was one of the primary authors of the myriad stories comprising The Mill over the past few years, his voice perhaps quieter and less visible than The Mill’s founders yet equal in the weight of his words. In blog posts, website content, course descriptions, and his loving tribute to fellow Board member Christopher Kunz at the 2020 Fox Cities Book Festival, Mike demonstrated the power of language to create a sense of social cohesion.
As writers, we often think about attribution and take pride in our bylines. Mike, however, often wrote anonymously for The Mill, and his quick recognition of others’ successes generated ripples of praise and communication among us: blog posts mentioned publications and awards with alacrity, kindness, and the type of praise that matters to writers: the praise of other writers.
I met the man behind these posts after many years of benefitting from his wisdom, when I joined The Mill’s Board of Directors last year. Mike was the gatekeeper who interviewed me, introduced me, and taught me the ropes, and he helped me envision workshops that merged my interests as a writer with The Mill’s mission and vision. He participated in two of my workshops, and during one, I had to pause to thank him for sharing a paragraph he wrote that left me breathless, near tears. He’d written in ten minutes a response to Virginia Woolf that was so startlingly clear in its expression of beauty, pain, and hope that I couldn’t help but wish he would write more so that I could know him better as an author, mentor, and friend.
Mike made others feel like writers, and I am forever grateful that he created a space for us to share our poetry, memoirs, and stories. I only wish that his story extended beyond its too abrupt final page.