Jay Ponteri

Interview: Dream-cheating with Jay Ponteri

The author of 'Wedlocked' talks about his investigation of monogamy

By JUDITH PULMAN

Confession: From his prose, I wasn’t expecting Jay Ponteri to meet me so freshly groomed, polite, and soft-spoken.

wedlocked_243_400_80 2It was sloppy for me to assume that Ponteri, the director of Marylhurst University’s undergraduate creative writing program, would appear slovenly or depressive or altogether not-hip in the fashion that he portrayed himself to be in “Wedlocked,” his memoir published by local press Hawthorne Books in March. But it was easy enough for me to conflate the persona and person of a provocative writer that I had never met . So in our conversation about his memoir, methods, and attempts to stay in “the present moment of composition,” both in life and in writing, I was forced to dump my assumptions and just listen.

“Wedlocked” is ostensibly a personal inquiry into monogamy. Ponteri lets us into his world: In his garage, he is writing a manuscript about his doubts about his marriage and recording his strong feelings towards other women—Frannie is the name that he uses as a composite for all the women he has fantasized about that are not his wife. His wife finds this manuscript and she is shocked, disturbed, and does not know what to do. She claims not to have fantasized about sex with other men, so why is he straying in this way? He doubts, fantasizes, strays, all the while loathing the person who does these things.

“My book is more about a self isolating inside a marriage than marriage itself—reacting by pushing away instead of reaching out in the way that life’s difficult moments require,” Ponteri said. “The book is also a consideration of the way my writing became another fantasy, another way to push reality away. There’s a T.S. Eliot quote from the “Four Quartets” that goes. ‘Humankind cannot bear very much reality.’ I think that’s what my struggle was as a young married person: Trying to be in touch with actuality and also embracing a dreamy way of being that is rewarded in being an artist and writer.”

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