J. Alden Smith Talks Life, Poetry, and His Journey Down The Yellow Brick Road

By: Lynnie 

If you missed out on “The Meet Up” this past weekend you truly missed out on some super dope treats. One of those treats is the fine and oh so talented J. Alden Smith.  When I tell you this brother is all things professional and creative.  It was definitely a treat to witness his gift in person. I must admit I was put on to his work a few months ago and since have followed his work from then on.   A wonderful poet who stands in his on lane. His last project “Yellow Brick Road” Vol: 1 Tin Man, is an absolute must have. J. Alden shares poetry penned from his personal experiences about becoming a man.  Although the project only consists of seven pieces, he covers a board range of topics from societal issues to of course relationships.  For you women out there, he gives great insight on the thinking process of a man, while allowing us to see ourselves.  Now that I am a fan you know I had to take the time to interview him, let’s jump right in to it.

                                                                 Poet J. Alden Smith

                                                               Poet J. Alden Smith

Where are you from originally?

I was born in Saint Petersburg, Florida. We migrated to New Jersey when I was 6 and then moved to Charlotte, NC when I was 11. I claim North Carolina because this is where I grew up. This is where I learned who I am. I’m still currently learning, but this is where I was taught to be a man. North Carolina is where I honed my writing.  I current call the city of Winston-Salem home.

How long have you been writing poetry?

Wow, let’s see.  I wrote my first poem when I was 8 years old. I’m 38 now, so that’s 30 years. I’ve been writing the majority of my life.  It’s crazy because my mother writes and my father was a writer as well. I get it honestly, from both of my parents.  Both of my parents are published authors. My dad is more of the poet.  My mom writes poetry but she’s more of an inspiration

One of my close friends gave me a copy of your last project, “Yellow Brick Road”.  I have to admit I think this project is completely dope.  I have proudly put my whole circle of friends on to this CD.  I do have to ask, what made you title this project “Yellow Brick Road”?

The concept behind “The Yellow Brick Road” is all about the search for something.  If you’re familiar with the movie The Wiz or The Wizard of Oz, the main characters in those movies were all searching for something. In reality they had everything they were searching for but they just needed a push. So in their journey to get to “The Wiz” or “Wizard of Oz” they travel down the yellow brick road. The yellow brick road is symbolic of the straight and narrow path. We know in life the road is not always straight or narrow. Sometime we don’t even have a path and we have to make our own. In traveling your own yellow brick road, you’re going to have detours and potholes. There are going to be all sorts of things that will come in your way.  

Those detours and potholes are how we find this things we’re searching for outwardly on the inside.

 Exactly, the poems on this project reflect the problems one may face while on their journey. This is actually a 2 part session. This is”vol:1 The Tin Man” series. Remember Tin Man was in search of a heart, but we all know he already had a heart. All the pieces on this project are all emotional. Since forever this has been one of the issues with men. The problem with men is we don’t talk about our emotions. A lot of men live off one emotion, anger.  We’re really not mad we were just taught that boys don’t show emotions. “Vol:2 The Cowardly Lion” will be coming out soon.

That’s going to be dope. I was honestly hoping there would be a Volume 2. So tell me what is your favorite poem on Volume 1?

 I honestly don’t have a favorite. They are all my babies. They are like my children. I can’t pick a favorite child.  Well, I’m sure some parents can and do but, yea I don’t have a favorite. I love all of my children the same lol.

Lol Ok, I can understand that, so which one is your first born?

“I Asked” was the first poem I wrote for the project. I actually wrote it a few years ago and I tweaked it some for this project. 

Oh my goodness this is my absolute favorite track. This track ignited an hour long conversation between me and some of my friends.

Oh wow really, that’s what’s up. That is the goal.  My goal was to spark conversations.  “I Asked” is one of the more popular tracks. 

I can completely understand why. It was like you were having a real conversation with yourself. Was it is based off your own personal experiences?

Yes, absolutely. It was based on a situation I was having with a female I was dating.  We were having some issues and it kinda sparked from there. This was the conversation I was having within myself while in the middle of the situation with her. I really needed to have it with her but I didn’t. As the listener you’re kinda brought in the middle of the conversation. At least that’s what I was hoping was being portrayed.  My overall premise was I am trying to convey something to you all and hopefully someone in that audience, where ever that audience is they can get it. If one person gets it, I’m good.  I feel like I’ve won. Even if they can’t relate but appreciate the artistic view that I came from, that’s also a win.  

What advice would you give the next writer new to the poetry scene?

Hmm, I would tell them to know who you are and be you. Write every day to perfect your craft. Even if it’s not something you plan to put out, just write. Go to workshops and educate yourself. I would suggest you not listen to other people initially because you want to develop your own voice. Listening to other people may filter into your voice. You never want to sound like someone else. Once you have coined who you are then go out and listen to other artists.  Supporting other artists is always a plus. It’s huge. It’s major.  Figure out who you are and be that.

Make sure you like and follow J.Alden on Facebook.  https://www.facebook.com/jalden.smith

Until next time.  Make Life Rock on Purpose, 

@lynnie910

Lynnie Wright