Caleb Ponton — Featured Poet

How do you interrogate yourself in your work?

Creation must risk vulnerability. Perspectives that I share may not be your mod podge queer experience, but sexuality is a luxury I certainly inherited. Each day I am driven to subvert that which harms the working class and those communities which I have the responsibility to represent. Unlike populist perversions of love and suffering, shallowness is not a consequence of my apathy. My actions are not reflexive to oppression, just as the work I produce is not reflective of individual characters. Rather, larger narratives exist as working drafts.
What themes drive your expression?

The people around you matter. Few things are more important than knowing that. In this regard, my art employs a great deal of vulnerability and consumption. It is imperative that you provide yourself with the resources necessary to explore personal chasms. If you’re unsure of where your motivations lie, then you need to interact with them more fully— before inhaling too much of something that doesn’t belong to you. Most truths exist as hazescapes of reality and I’m really just propelled to see which ones hold up.

What themes drive your expression?

The people around you matter. Few things are more important than knowing that. In this regard, my art employs a great deal of vulnerability and consumption. It is imperative that you provide yourself with the resources necessary to explore personal chasms. If you’re unsure of where your motivations lie, then you need to interact with them more fully— before inhaling too much of something that doesn’t belong to you. Most truths exist as hazescapes of reality and I’m really just propelled to see which ones hold up.

How do you interact with the page?

I absolutely do not cook with recipes. If I need a half ounce of oregano or some extra firm tempeh, I’ll just use what I have in front of me. Ingredients, are only one part of the final result. In this way, concepts float freely, requiring me to work with shapes and colors that I have available. Completed works are often the compilation of different pieces sketched over several months. I recognize that consciousness is not a singular phenomenon and I make deep-seated efforts to think through my circumstances, to judge benefits in light of the costs, to evaluate people I’ve grown in and out of, and I rarely hesitate.

As an artist, you have to give your craft the authority it deserves, recognizing that personal admiration is not synonymous to vanity. Most of my art is dependent upon a very personalized composition of form. Whether in conversation or on the page, I feel that my voice is cultivated by the space around me. I like to give my ideas room to grow and I’ll often let words hang. Repurposing language and structure is a liberating experience. For this reason, my writing tends to reject traditional form in favor of authenticity and conviction. Once I feel an idea has reached its saturation point, then I know that what I’ve produced is valid and I can move on from it.

How do you teach yourself creative writing?

I am fortunate to have had beautifully skilled (public school) English teachers over the years, as well as a supportive social network that I can share my work with. I was encouraged from a very early age to develop my storytelling abilities and writing came as the most natural way to express myself. Though, I have not enjoyed the full privilege of formal writing education, I’ve chosen to develop my art in between cracks of mindfulness and the time I’ve had to make for myself. Understanding yourself through art is a transformative experience. If you can find a medium that best articulates those perspectives, you might as well have won the fucking lottery because art provides the validation that monetary and sexual pleasure will never realize.