Oh…you haven’t heard it goes down in the DM?
Well, welcome to the Creative Spotlight series where it goes down for insightful reasons. This series will feature creatives from not just my hometown, but people from all over the world. We will be talking about their creative endeavors, aspirations, artistic process, and everything in between.
I am honored to kick the series off with amazing writer and phenomenal poet J Free. He has given me the pleasure of popping his interview cherry, and a chance to tell his narrative the way he wants through my platform. It’s important that I uplift artists, but most importantly Black artists because I am one.
We all come in different packages, stories, styles, and everything else. Yet, the one thing that unites us is our passion for our art. J Free, is a twenty-seven year old writer from Sacramento with raw, unfiltered, and unforgettable content that is Good Enough?!. I have been following his work for less than a year and he continues to surprise me with each piece, the next is always better than the last.
Our interview took place in the catacombs that are the DMs, also known as the Direct Messages. I did not anticipate our scheduled Saturday interview of 3:00 to 4:30ish going into overtime. I came up with thirty questions counting on the Gemini personality J Free had on Thursday night to be the same one that showed up that afternoon. When he arrived via the Direct Messages, I was overjoyed by how pleasant and thorough he was.
J Free was very flexible, forthcoming, and humble. I know his talent is highly underrated, but it is my duty to make sure writers like us get our flowers even when the world is asleep. I cannot wait for the world to wake up. So, without further ado…I give you the opportunity to see J Free is Good Enough?!.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself. How did you get your creative name?
JF: Well, my name is Jeffrey, I fancy myself a writer, a philosophical poet, an alchemist, a constant questioner, an avid reader, etc. blah,blah,blah?!. And I just thought J Free sounded cool and poetical. Just trying to free myself of all pressures and constraints?!.
2. Great answer! I like that a lot it’s all about being free and freedom for you. How and when did you get into poetry/writing?
I’ve been free-form writing and journaling forever, (I’m of the belief that all writing is poetic) but I’d have to say I’ve been writing with intention since 2014?!.
3. Writing with intention? Now that’s deep. No pressure on the questions. I want some of what first comes to mind and some well thought out kind of mixture…I don’t wanna keep you too long (laughs). Do you want to make a career out of your art?
Thank gawd (laughs). I had a whole backstory I was gonna delve into, but I didn’t want to be too indulgent.
(Laughs) If there is a next time, if you think I did well, and you like it we can go deep. Or if I have any follow up questions to add. I’m just excited to speak to another writer!
Official Answer to Question 3: Of course, that’s the dream?! All I wanna be is a creative person who gets paid a livable wage from his work, nothing too big (laughs) God willing?!.
4. I feel that! We’re gonna make it for real. Where are you from? And how does your home/upbringing play a role in your writing?
I’m from Sacramento, California?!. My home and upbringing play a major role in my writing because it molded me and my outlook and my imagination?!. But I also don’t want you to think of Sacramento when you read my work. I try to transport the reader into the absurd fantastical world of my imagination, which was molded by Sacramento?!.
5. Yes, yes, I understand. Sacramento is on the come up for artists of all kinds. We have some great talent. I understand not wanting to just be branded “a Sacramento whatever…” Name your top 3-5 writers and poets.
In no order?! Kurt Vonnegut, 2 Pac, Kendrick Lamar, Alan Moore, and J.K. Rowling?!.
6. That’s an interesting combination when you put all their talents together! Who influenced your writing/artistry?
Countless people, those 5 I just named for sure?!. But I’d be trippin’ if I didn’t say Suga Free, he’s a big influence, as well as Devin the Dude?! As well as my family, my dad, my mom, my lil brother and my lil sister, they all influence my art?!.
7. Yes, I know influence can come from any and everywhere! Have you ever performed your poetry or did an open mic? If so, what was the experience like?
No ma’am, I never performed my writing. I don’t want to influence how the audience reads it. I want everyone who reads anything I write to interpret it for themselves?!.
8. I like this perspective! This surprises me and doesn’t at the same time. Are you okay if we go over a bit? How important is it to you to include your personal life? What percentage would you say is fictitious and from what’s real?
That’s fine. It’s very important. While I’m creating, I like to think that each piece of writing I create is a little horcrux. (I don’t know if you’re familiar with Harry Potter but that’s a lil’ Harry Potter reference. *laughs*) I also don’t want my personal life to be overbearing to the narrative, so I’d say everything I write is a mixture of autobiographical-fantastical-fiction?!.
9. Good point! I know a lil’ Harry Potter but I’m not very well versed with it. Your writing is so raw. How do you evoke that feeling?
Thank you. I try to just be a conduit; life is very raw. I just write the way I see life and how it comes to me, without polish, and touch ups?!. Just the essence?!.
10. Would you/have you dated another creative? Pros? Cons? Why or why not?
Every woman I’ve ever dated or entertained had to be creative in one way or another. You don’t have to be creative in the arts, money management and life sh*t is creativity (laughs) so yeah you must be creative in some facet of life?!. But as far as pros and cons if we’re both ‘creative’ we’re gonna both be in our heads a lot, our communication might be lacking. There’s probably gonna be a lot of feelings and so forth (laughs). Those could be cons or pros depending on how you view it, just like life?!.
11. I love this answer! Why is your artistry so important to you?
It’s important to me because it’s the only place I feel able to organize my thoughts and truly communicate?!.
12. Yes! I agree. I’m not shy in my writing like I am in person. How important is support from friends, family, and your significant other?
It’s important to get support but I don’t really trip off it. Everyone has their own things going on, I don’t expect too much from anyone that way I don’t get hurt, cuz I’m just lil’ ball of emotions?!.
13. You can say that again. Some people won’t support you until you blow up so they can say they knew you when…Also this is off topic answer how you feel: Does your Gemini (multiple personalities) play a part in your writing? How so if it does?
I think me being a Gemini affects my writing HEAVILY?!. I see both sides to everything but I’m also a contradiction with two faces, so in one poem I might be preaching something and then the next poem I might actively go against what I just said?!.
REAL QUESTION 13. Do you think you’ll ever stop? Why or why not?
I don’t foresee me stopping, God willing?!. Even if I don’t put any of my writing out, I’ll always write for myself, but I just started putting my work out last year so, this is only the beginning?!.
14. Yes, you answered this question perfectly. I know a lot of Geminis, and some won’t admit to how their faces make y’all so appreciate your honesty. You better continue! I hope you never stop. You are great. What is your writing process like? How do you develop your poems? Guide me briefly.
My writing process usually starts in my phone notes. I usually get inspiration from any little thing, it could be anything from a simple word that compels me to write it down, to a vivid memory, to the thought of what if, to a facial expression I see someone make, to a random conversation I overhear. I just build from there?!.
15. Yes, these phone notes will help you every time! Is there any topic that’s off limits to you?
*16. I’m SKIPPING 16 because I asked you that in so many ways about inspiration…
17. What was your experience with a critic, and did you take it to heart?
I haven’t really had any experience with critics. Not to sound cliché but, I’m my own worst critic so?!.
18. The inner critic can be the worst! More on that to come. Movies like Love Jones and Poetic Justice portray poetry as loving, erotic, and moving…how do you feel about how they portray poets? And would you like your poetry to be used in movies like that?
The movies portray poets as very stereotypical and most poets fall into the archetype that the movies portray, so it’s a stereotypical loop?!. I’d love my writing to be featured in movies like that but, giving another perspective, something more real, but it’s Hollywood so real isn’t profitable there. I’m more focused on creating my own?!.
19. Great answer! I wasn’t sure what to expect with that one. Do you use your poetic charm on the ladies, and does it work?
I don’t have any charm, I’m not a leprechaun, I’m just a man who’s poetic sometimes?!. I’m very much single sooooo, I wouldn’t say it works (laughs)?!.
20. Hmm…okay now (laughs) I love it. And being single can be good. There’s a lot going on out here! Would you be open to teaching/attending a poetry workshop? Why or why not?
I don’t really think you can teach poetry, I’m of the opinion that you either have it or you don’t. And if you have it, you’ll find people who’ll teach you in life not a workshop?!. But I don’t know I’m more of a do it yourself, read and learn on your own type of introvert. I guess a workshop could be useful for aspiring people, I don’t know?!.
21. Interesting perspective! We had poetry workshops in college. How does social media play a role in your artistic visibility and marketing?
Like any good tool, it’s double edged?!. It’s good for the marketing and alladat but you can lose yourself in the algorithms, so you gotta be careful?!.
22. Yessirr! Would you Ghostwrite for other people? What do you think about Ghostwriting and the people who use it?
I’d definitely be open to ghostwriting for other people?!. I have no problem with ghostwriting. I do think if your writing is supposed to be personal and you’re paying a ghostwriter that’s manipulative and offensive to the art form, but it is what it is?!.
23. I agree with that fasho! What advice would you give an aspiring poet or writer?
Keep writing and if you’re not physically writing, keep your mind turning?!.
24. Where do you see yourself creatively and in general in the next four years?
Just more and more narratives?!.
25. Yes! Do you have any friendships with other creatives and if so, how do you support them?
Friendships? Not really, I’d say I have a few associates?!. I show my support by buying what they sell and words of encouragement when I can?!.
26. I like that, I like that! How do you plan to expand creatively?
Well, I’ve been branching out, I started a newsletter on substack, I publish longer form poems on there every Sunday?!. I started doing movie, music, tv reviews on my Instagram story. I have a Letterboxd account dedicated to movie reviews. I also just made a Twitter for random thoughts and so forth?!.
27. I love to hear it! You are doing well. We are getting down to the last few questions! How long did it take to craft the poems for your book GOOD ENOUGH?!. And how did you select the pieces: Any regrets on what you put in there?
I’ve been working on GOOD ENOUGH?!. since 2015. It took some time. I wanted to craft the book in such a way that every other poem would be personal or a fictional parable?!. I have no regrets, originally the book was going to be longer, but I broke it up. The other half of the book is going to be coming this June. I’m really excited about it; it’s called 3 SIDES?!.
*28. Is omitted because it was answered in #27 about a follow up book.
29. How do you fit writing into your daily life? Do you write every day?
I go weeks without writing. I only write when I’m inspired, whether that be a word in my notes or whatever. And it’s usually at a frenetic pace?!.
30. That’s interesting! Weeks? Sheesh! I’ve been there. How do you deal with your inner critic?
Just let him live because he is me and I am him, we are one?!. (Laughs) Sometimes he’s wrong, sometimes he’s right. Sometimes I listen, sometimes I don’t?!.
31. Damn…that was perfect! How did you come up with the concept for your cover art?
The title of the book and the content I was writing helped me come up with the cover. You could share your whole heart with someone and they’d still want more. You could share your whole brain with someone, and they’d want more. It’s like is anything GOOD ENOUGH?! So, take half and half. That’s what most of my content is about anyways, dealing with matters of the heart and brain?!.
*BONUS QUESTIONS TIME!*
Four words to describe you are…
Four words to describe me: thoughtful, empathetic, emotional, inquisitive?!.
What do you want your legacy to be?
As far as legacy I’d just like to be remembered for being human, contradictions and all. Someone who tried?!.
Is there anything you want to add or say to anyone out there reading?
I just wanna say to the readers if you read alladis I f*ck with you?! I wanna thank you for my first interview, I appreciate you?!. And I’d like to thank God?!.
If you don’t mind saying something about being a Black Writer and what that means to you?
Being a Black writer is being a revolutionary, a philosopher, a warrior, a student, a teacher, yourself, alllllldat?!.
Thanks again to J Free for granting me his first interview and my first post of the Creative Spotlight series. I cannot wait to read more of his work soon. You can get more of J Free’s content from his platforms below.
Book: GOOD ENOUGH?!. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B096TJLHKK/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_i_DSMQ2S8BVWKXH2E00MRD