“I was born in Venezuela, in 1995. When I was 12, I moved to Spain, and when I was 19, I moved here to the States. This has affected me greatly, not just as an artist, but also as a person. Moving from one place to another you meet a lot of people along the way, and never staying in one place for long enough, makes it hard to feel at home anywhere. To feel like I belong there. I was affected so negatively that it led to depression until I realized home had more to do with people than the places. ” Juan goes by Juan Speaks in the literary world, consuming this identity as his words take on the life of his vibrant, vivid, and very intense life experiences. A hard-learned adaptation to change is embellished with silver lined poetry that has emerged from within.
Juan has been writing since 16 and is now a ripe 24 as he accepts his budding poetic expression. Juan remembers the beginning of his excursions into using writing as reflections of his painful emotions; heart, and mind screaming for someone to notice their agony, and lack of understanding why. He went from a straight A student to flunking out senior year.
” My best friend encouraged me to write as an outlet for letting out my feelings, and at the time I didn’t consider my strings of words and thoughts, poetry, because for some reason, I thought all poetry had to rhyme.” He says this with a nervous laugh as he reflects the reality of finding something new he could do that showed him how to be true to who he was searching to be.”I considered my writings short stories or mini somethings, but not actual poetry, until I started hearing other spoken word poets and hearing the ring of “my mini somethings” in their words.”
This pained poet spent 7 years in Spain, one of his longest stints in one place, usually moving so often that by the time he was in 5th grade he had lived in 2 different countries, and 4 different schools! As a result when he moved from Spain he felt he was leaving behind his family; whole oceans and time zones away. For 4 years he was stuck thick in writer’s block, unable to feel the inspirational flow without the fresh air of support he had learned of in his time in Spain. He had convinced himself that that part of him was as gone as the people he had left behind. Despite his personal lack he still yearned for the creative sound, listening and watching others spoken word. He also admits to having a history of playing guitar and bass, which he has not yet rekindled.
Remember when Neil Hilborn’s OCD video went viral on facebook because he was talking about a serious topic that people don’t often talk about? This video had a direct affect on the ominous “them” becoming more interested in Spoken Word artists for a time, due to the unrecognized discussion of OCD. Juan started watching Neil Hilborn’s videos, and others like him; rustling the feathers of his own poetic nature.
Juan is a strong advocate of motivational speaking; especially about past struggles and personal accomplishments, due to his frequent shifting past, unsettled heart, and the agonized longing for human companionship that is a natural need for most of humanity.
In October 2018, Juan’s best friend( initial inspiration for Juan’s poetic beginnings in Spain) told him about a 30 day writing challenge. He doubted he would last more than 5 days, but accepted the challenge anyway. “And I admit I messed up, just as I expected. I would catch myself 15 minutes before the day ended, and sit down and write something. So by the time I posted for that day, it would be around 12:15am. But atleast I did it! The most difficult thing to overcome is myself, because I have such high expectations for myself, and I am such a perfectionist, that if my writing doesn’t work perfectly I become frustrated. This is why it took me so long to restart writing. I am still on the journey to write daily, and fight through my past and pain but it’s worth it when I do.” Despite this confession of vulnerability Juan strives to work on his art and professional image as often as possible, whether it’s editing old inspirations, finishing half written qualms, or promoting on social media and youtube networks. Always working towards what makes it all worth it; to share his journey and help others know they also can be heard.
Juan has recently been working on a 20pg poetry book contest, reflecting that this is a man who likes a challenge; needing that extra push to explode with simple expressions full of deep meanings. In addition he is also laboring over another compilation project with a artistic graphic designer to be released within the next year; he is excited to bring his words to life with this partnership of graphic imagery.
“If I make it, I will cry, and laugh, and dance all over the place, but if I don’t I will force myself to try again, no matter how long it takes. It’s what feels right for me to do, no matter what you decide to call it. If I accept I am poet or not, my writing is what it is, and it can only get better.”
More of Juan’s poetry can be found on @juanspeaks on both instagram and youtube, often to be found performing at open mic’s around the Bay such as Felicitous and Smokenwords.
Written By: Writerreyes