We had the good fortune of connecting with Justin Patton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Justin, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I decided to pursue an artistic/creative endeavor because my art, my poetry, is the one place where I can be myself. I tried my best to fit into the corporate environment, and I ended up getting fired and later laid off. After going through that I figured that if I’m not going to succeed, I’d at least rather fail on my own accord, rather than my fate being decided by anyone else. My career as a spoken word poet requires authenticity and constant self improvement. My growth as an artist is synonymous with my growth as a man, and it brings me personal satisfaction knowing that I am creating something that inspires people, while at the same time serves as therapy for me. A career in the arts allows me to utilize all of my skills. Of course when creating I am able to flex my creative muscle, but art also requires me to use my business sense, especially when it comes to marketing my work, leveraging strategic partnerships, and the ability to sell. My artistic endeavors force me to utilize the latest technology and to continue to evolve as technology evolves.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Once I discovered that I could use my ability to write as a vehicle to get me to go where I want to be, I haven’t looked back. That all started with writing poetry, which came from being down and depressed. Though I had always written poetry, the only time I would write early on was when I was feeling down. Poetry was my place of peace. When I found myself at my lowest point, feeling worthless as if my life did not matter, I found myself writing. It was not until a friend read my work and discovered that not only I was a writer but that it was actually good, was when I began gaining the confidence to be able to share my work. Birthed out of my foundation of writing poetry has been spoken word performances all around the country, becoming a published author, branding partnerships, my blog which contains hundreds of essays, numerous spoken word videos showcasing my work, and a podcast entitled ‘The Poet’s Perspective’ which highlights spoken word artists around the world. And all that came from simply just making a start and being consistent. My goal was never to be the best spoken word artist, but rather to be the best spoken word artist that I could be. So if there is anything that I am most proud of, it is starting from absolutely nothing, to now having the respect of my peers in the poetry community and knowing that I am doing my part to prove the worth of spoken word poets. Though I am excited to reflect on where I am but still realizing I still have a ways to go, the journey has been all but easy. I’ve lost money, embarrassed myself numerous times, been selfish with my time, and let myself get in my own way due to my own insecurities and ego at times. The only way I have overcome these challenges has been to learn from my mistakes and continue moving forward. Throughout most of my life, I was a quitter. When things got a hard regardless of what it was, I always knew I could just quit. Poetry, however, has been different for me. It has taught me too much about life for me to just give up. I’ve come to far to give up. In not quitting, poetry has taught me what it means be consistent, and how doors will open but you must be persistent. I’ve had to learn the business of poetry, and I had to gain the confidence to market myself, and not being afraid to ask for a sell. I’ve had to learn what it means to work on your craft. And most of all I’ve learned that the more I grow as a man, the more I grow as a poet and artist. What sets my poetry and writing apart from others is that it is MY story. No one on the planet has had my experience in life. I’m able to communicate my story in a way that not only tells my story but inspires other people who may be struggling with self-confidence, self worth, or just loving themselves overall. That’s the place in which I come from. A place of not feeling worthy and being afraid to speak my truth. So if there is something I want people to know about my story is that through finding something to love (which for me writing), I was able to find love for myself. And though it is a constant battle that I continue to fight within myself, I now have the necessary tools in my life along with the mindset to win the battle against that voice in my head telling me that I’m not good enough.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I had a friend coming in town, early in the day we would definitely check out some hiking trails in the area like Kennesaw Mountain, the Atlanta beltline, or the waterfall at Roswell Mill. At these places we could enjoy nature and get some good exercise. Since I enjoy conversation, there are great coffee shops around Atlanta such as Urban Grind Coffee House, where we can check out some of the artwork there, and enjoy some of their drinks and food. As far as restaurants go, there are so many places to find some good food. For some of the best seafood, there’s Sweet Auburn Seafood. For healthy vegan meals, there’s Tassili’s Raw Reality or Slutty Vegan. For a good pizza night, there’s Slim N’ Huskies and Buckhead Pizza. Atlanta has some of the best restaurants to offer! And then for places to hangout, Peters St. is filled with bars where many Black professionals go to have drinks, dance, and listen to some good music. There are many spots where you can find live music such as BQE Lounge, Gallery 992, or East Atlanta Village, so we would catch those nightlife vibes. I would have to take a friend to a comedy show given all the comedy clubs in the city such as Uptown Comedy Corner, Laughing Skull, and Atlanta Comedy Theater. And speaking of theater, most of my friends are into the arts so we could catch a play at the Alliance Theater. Lastly, since Atlanta is known for their strip clubs, it’s only right that I take a friend there, if that’s what they’re into of course.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to credit the spoken word community in Atlanta for allowing me to grow as a poet by providing different outlets for me to constantly work on my craft. My partners, Urban Grind Coffee House and Cool Kids Committee Inc. deserve credit for trusting me as partner in their businesses. And of course a huge thanks is owed to my wife, my friends, and family for supporting me and instilling enough confidence in me to keep going!