To Caleb Stratemeyer, poetry is a way of leading by example.
“Everybody wants to learn,” he says, “but at the same time, how does someone learn if they’re too embarrassed to ask questions or if they don’t have someone they trust enough to give them the right answer?”
That’s where Caleb believes he can make a difference. “My poetry is a way of teaching us all how to get along better without pointing fingers.”
Caleb discovered his talents during his seventh grade LRC class where a poetry assignment and a helpful teacher gave him confidence as a writer.
Pairing poetry with his interest in listening to and helping others, Caleb found the topic he was most passionate about: treating women with respect.
“I’ve had a lot of female friends give me advice on the world. Without them I would be 100% lost,” he says.
But as his friends opened up to him about their experiences with physical, mental and emotional abuse, Caleb turned to poetry as an outlet. “I’ve always tried to do what is right, but it was my friends who taught me how to do it with heart.”
Now he uses his words as a tool for presenting different perspectives, inspiring change of hearts, focusing on solutions and ending the cycle of abuse.
“I can show people how to be gentle and compassionate,” he says.
Caleb has had the opportunity to share his poetry at open mics at his church, Chemeketa’s Multicultural Center and most recently at the HVAC exhibit. Naturally one to shy away from the spotlight, Caleb has appreciated the support and feedback of his friends and colleagues.
“I don’t want to come off as some perfect person. I’ve been stubborn, overprotective and controlling, but I’ve learned from mistakes,” Caleb reflects. “And something tells me I’m not quite done learning.”
While he knows reducing divorce rates and ending abuse, rape and human trafficking is a large task to undertake, Caleb is steadfast in his calling of being a male role model.
He meets regularly with other like-missioned men as part of the group “Men for Hope and Safety” to take action and raise awareness.
“I don’t know how to go about it but I think if I get there some day that’s great,“ he says. “What I’m doing now is a good start.”
Read a selection of his poems