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Callum James: Poetry Is In His Blood

“What I love most about poetry is the feeling; it’s exhilarating. Whenever I write it feels like it’s the first time. When I’m performing, I can let go of all my worries and just be free and be that version of myself I dream of.”

I saw Callum James for the first time last week at the closing ceremony of the Caribbean Ties Exhibition. The ceremony was held at the Anglican School Annex; James wowed the audience with a heartfelt performance and when he was done, he was showered with applause.

The 18-year-old can’t imagine life without poetry. According to him, “it’s a reflection of me, my issues and also my blessings. With poetry I’m able see life differently.”

Callum James
Callum James

Surprisingly, James only developed a love for poetry recently. It consumed him completely—he’d never experienced anything like it.

“I used to write the odd poem here and there before but I started writing poetry vigorously in August 2020. It was a dark emotional period for me and it pulled me into writing. I wanted to express my feelings and I also had to work on my demons and really iron myself out,” the young poet explained.

It’s one of the best decisions he’s ever made and one can even say it is fate. James’ poems are wonderful. He paints a clear picture with words and it’s easy to get lost in his thoughts.

“Once I start writing I cannot stop. I have to get it out one time. I write in the wee hours of the morning sometimes,” he said.

According to him, that’s when the magic happens.

“There’s a patio outside my house and there are beautiful flowers everywhere. I was sitting outside one night around 3:00 a.m. It was raining—there was a white light and an orange light and the rain was falling in different directions. I sat with my laptop playing ‘A Thousand Years’ by Christina Perri and I started writing,” James said.

It was cathartic. He’d just lost a loved one and the pain was still fresh.

“At that time my uncle had just passed away. It was a dark time but I knew it would get better in the future and I envisioned my future being bright. That was ‘Spotlight’ for me, my favourite poem. (His death) really affected me—positively though, because at that time I wrote my best pieces ever. I started writing more frequently because I had nothing else to do but express my feelings because those feelings were dark and gloomy,” he added.

James is inspired by many things including music. He pours the inspiration in his poetry and the end result is usually breathtaking.

“I write with sound. I like all sorts of different sounds but mostly music. I take the energy from songs and I put it into my poems. I like anything under the sun: rap, choir singing, gospel, songs from movies, all different soundtracks I could find,” he said happily.

“I’ve written a lot of poems and I cherish all of them,” James added.

He has great ambitions and he is determined to succeed. James believes his future is anything but ordinary.

“I see myself performing poetry all over the world, having sold out shows and having my material being read in different languages. I want to learn different languages so I can recite my poems in different languages as well. I want to be an international name; a legend, a success story,” he said.

“When I’m home and alone I break every single one of my barriers to get to where I need to be. I practice, write, make all my mistakes backstage, just to show up like a phoenix. I believe you really have to bulldoze yourself in the directions you want to go into. What I see as success is my poems being read and I want the people who read it to resonate with it and strive to better their life through my poetry,” James stated.

The young poet was born in America, however, James has spent most of his life in Saint Lucia. He is a graduate of the St. Mary’s College and he is also a student at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College where he is studying Caribbean History and Caribbean Studies.

“In my poetry I see egrets. It’s always flying and gliding through seasons, always perched with its chin up and chest high so I see myself delving into a poetry collection and a book in the future with egrets being the central motive,” James said towards the end of the interview.

“Egrets are my fascination. When I sit in my balcony I have a view of Cul De Sac where I see the luscious greens, browns and water; seeing a majestic egret sweeping across the cushion of a cloudy afternoon exhilarates me and that’s all I could think about while writing— gliding, soaring through seasons,” he added.

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