Spring Campaign Spotlight: Paul Hlava Ceballos

Published: May 12, 2021

Categories: Featured | Spring Campaign

For our 2021 Spring Fundraising Campaign, we’re raising funds in celebration of the resilience of artists. As we look to the future, we know that with your support, we can help artists continue to lead the way. Donate here

Today we’re hearing from writer and 2019 Fellowship recipient, Paul Hlava Ceballos. Paul has also received fellowships from CantoMundo and the Poets House. His chapbook, Banana [ ], is coming out in 2021 from The 3rd Thing Press. He has an MFA from NYU and currently lives in Seattle, where he practices echocardiography. We spoke with Paul about what has inspired him during this time, how he’s changed, and what support he feels artists and artist communities need, now and in the future.

On the resilience of artists and what has inspired him:
“I’m proud of my art community throughout this crisis, the way we’ve supported each other emotionally in our moments of isolation, and through structural support like Artist Trust. I set up a GoFundMe for a poetry friend’s medical debt, and the immediate response from poets—even ones across the country—was so uplifting. Resilience implies a force against which one rebounds, so I think my favorite art has always been resilient to forms of oppression, and which makes its reader feel that power rebounding in them.

I’ve been inspired by the large protests for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Their lives were worth more than any cultural movement, but I have seen so much police violence, and never seen a response like that. It’s not happy but it gives some hope. Similarly, I am inspired by groups fighting against the incarceration of migrants at the border and how artists are bringing their skills and labor to those movements.”

How he’s different from a year ago:
“I am more weary than I was a year ago! But I am hopeful and ready to emerge from quarantine. Thanks to Artist Trust, I could afford time to complete and edit a manuscript. Recently, as a medical worker, I’ve been inspired to write poems from the cardiology part of my life and with that diction. I am excited to bring together the different parts of my life that want healing and cultural change and try to create art from that intersection.”

What support artists and artist communities need:
“Artists need the kind of support Artist Trust works to provide, the financial, promotional, educational support, and the feelings that come from being in community with other working artists
. Now, especially, artists who need this support are the ones who have not historically had access to it. I am excited to see the work that comes from Black and brown communities, immigrants and their children, and allies working to affect positive change.”