Interview with Ariel Horton

What inspired or influenced you to write this piece?

This poem was inspired by a true event that I experienced in my junior year of high school. While it’s lightly fictionalized (and aren’t we all?) it is based in reality. As a slightly older person, I view the self that I was in high school from a gaping distance. She was a sad, twisted up girl. She loved the attention she got from that boy, and was unbothered by how he objectified her painful, human interactions with another woman. Having grown, I wanted to explore how it felt to be a teenage girl seeking love and validation in very-wrong spaces. So, here is 16-year-old me on the page.

How would you describe your artistic style? What do you wish to accomplish with your art?

If nothing else, my style is confessional. When I write, I press down on my bruises really hard, and see what happens. Largely, my poetry is truth-telling through the magical, malleable vessel of language. I can only wish that people find universal truths in my specific ones.

Brecht said, “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” I believe that art is among the few things with the radical power to awaken empathy, stir consciousness, and fundamentally connect human beings with one other. It’s a lofty goal, but I ultimately hope that my art will impact people, inspire them, move something in them. I hope that, somehow, my writing can connect me with people I will never meet in real life.

Tell us a little bit about your current artistic projects.

For most of the quarantine, I have been busy writing a play about Virginia Woolf’s life and her queer relationship with Vita Sackville-West. It’s still in the revisionary stage, but I just sent out the first complete draft this month! Although there is so much of me in Virginia’s character, it has been refreshing to stop writing about my damn self for a change. I had also never written a play before this, and it’s been truly enlightening and fulfilling to dive into a new storytelling medium.

You can read Ariel’s first place winning poem, Camita in the Parking Lot, here.