Artists in their own words: Justin Lamb
Audio: Justin Lamb performing 2060 featuring Profess
Who: Justin Lamb
Artist’s Chosen Location for Interview: Bayou Beer Garden: a table in the back that we thought was quiet but got rowdy (see below)
Q: What do you think life asks of you?
A: Authenticity is something that’s really important to me as a person. Trying to be my true self is something that I work on. The poetry project on Saturday has a lot of that in there.
The performance for Saturday as well as the book are really trying to get myself out of me. If there’s one thing that life is asking me or anyone to do, it’s to be ourselves. To grow into the person that you’re supposed to be.
Now, I’m not sure how exactly to get there, but I’m working through it. Over the last year or so, though, a lot of that thinking has been through my art, through really being honest, and being as raw as possible. When I approach art I don’t have any other purpose besides sharing the art. There isn’t a monetary tie to it, and I’m not working with other forces that might compromise what I want to say. I can write what I want. Well, actually, there’s certain things I can't say because I have a job, but that doesn't make me inauthentic, right?
Q: What's something you never want to own?
A: A chia pet. That’s the first thing that comes to mind. I don’t know why. I guess they just symbolize 'useless' for me. I just have no interest in those. And, this is the first time I’ve put together that chia pets and chia seeds are the same thing. And chia seeds are en vogue right now.
How about something you’d like to own?
A home. Instead of just renting.
How about something that can’t be owned?
Emotions. [Laughing]. That’s a ridiculous response. Not very compelling. And, I do own my emotions sometimes. Like if I’m angry for a petty reason, I’ll own that. So, I retract my answer.
I mean, technically you can own land, but there’s something about owning land that seems really off. Who was the first person that was like, 'This place that I’m standing on right here. It belongs to me,’? That must have seemed like such a ridiculous concept to people. But people do own land. My landlord definitely owns land.
Do you think there’s something that you can own?
[Laughing]. Your emotions.
Q: What poem would fall in love with one of your poems or at least want to be best friends with it?
A: There’s a poem by a poet named Rives. The poem is called Glaucoma.
[Pause in interview because someone starts blasting and singing along with “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” louder than we could talk].
So, this poem, Glaucoma, talks about the future with a lover. Not everything is going to be okay. His lover has glaucoma. He has a potbelly and a hound dog named Shakespeare. It’s a really sweet poem, and it inspired me to write a poem about robots. It was after the robot apocalypse, and it was about a relationship after that—the apocalypse.
Glaucoma and my robot poems have a lot in common, but now that I think about it, mine was inspired by Rives’s poem, so they are kind of linked by DNA. That’s a little incestuous, so maybe they’ll just be best friends.
Q: Explain, without defining, anthropology.
A: I’m going to answer this question with a question. How do you explain without defining?
That’s a good question. What do you think?
Okay, so that’s how this is going to go. I feel like I’m going to define it, but I’d say it’s studying human life and culture. We're fascinated by past and present culture because it's a way to distract ourselves from the inevitability of death.
It’s also a way for us to connect with our past, and it’s a way for us to see how others dealt with life or death. That, then, affects us now.
I’ve had different philosophies about including pop culture references in my work. When I was younger I had a lot of pop culture references, and then in college I started to cut it out because I wanted the work to be 'timeless.'
I mean, if I reference Dave Coulier from Full House that’s going to mean nothing in ten or so years. But then I had a moment after college when I realized that pretty much everything I do is going to be dated at some point. For example, Band-Aids. Are we really going to be using Band-Aids 100 years from now? Probably not. Everything changes. So why not create it for the moment and enjoy it?
Justin Lamb – along with comedian CJ Hunt, poet Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley and musician AKEEM- will be performing at The CellarDoor, on Saturday January 16, for "Everything Has a Place," a live recording and book release party. The party is open to the public. The doors open at 7 PM, and the show begins at 8 PM. The show is free and chapbooks will be on sale for $10. You can read, hear, and see more of Justin’s work on his website, Justinpoet.com.
Kelley Crawford is a professor, writer, mentor, dancer, and constant questioner. If you would like to contact Kelley Crawford, you can email her at [email protected].