Nathan Wallace is the 2019-2020 Atlanta Youth Poet Laureate. In such a short amount of time, he has become an integral part of Atlanta’s poetry community. Coming from Hinesville, Georgia, he currently attends Georgia State University as a History major. Though he is still new to the position, Nathan intends on putting his focus toward his book and ensuring that Atlanta’s poetry community thrives in the way that he came to love it.
If you can remember, why did you apply to be the Atlanta Youth Poet Laureate?
One of the reasons why I applied to be Atlanta Youth Poet Laureate was because where I’m from, there isn’t a big poetry group or a big poetry setting to be a part of. And here, this is the first place I felt at home as an artist. So to be able to be in a position where I can not only get all my work put together in terms of a book, and have an impact on the community that helped mold me as an artist is I want to be a part of.
What has your experience been during your time as the Atlanta Youth Poet Laureate?
It’s been pretty decent. I would say the experience would have been more fruitful if I hadn’t already been joining a fraternity in the beginning of the year. But now I’m trying to get more stuff done by working on getting the book together.
Looking back, did you have any initial goals you wanted to focus on?
My first goal was to get a book [published] because I felt like that would be really good. Another thing I want to have is more exposure as an artist. Which means more performances and more workshops. I feel like workshops are an excellent way to not only interact with other people, but also get inspiration for other pieces. And lastly, to have a chance to motivate other people as artists.
Has the program had an impact on your artistic career?
I would say it was a major step in my artistic career. First, in terms of any career, you need awards and titles and this is a good title. But secondly, it also provides you free publishing for your first book. It’s similar to somebody producing an album for you. Which is why I feel like this was an amazing step. This is helping me out with facilitation and workshops with other organizations.
If there was any advice, you could tell someone applying to be the Youth Poet Laureate, what would that be?
Try to make time and set goals. But also to be yourself. Make sure that whenever you submit your work, it shows the fullness of yourself. From everything that you’ve been through, how you see yourself, and how people see you.
Now that you’ve stepped into the position as the current Youth Poet Laureate, what are you up to now?
Right now I’m still working on the book. One of the things I’ve changed is the title of it. I’m thinking the title is going to be “Consulting Agreement.” It’ll cover not only the stuff that I’ve been through, but why I write and where the common theme of my writing comes from. Another thing is I’m getting in contact with the East Atlanta Kids Club. [Atlanta Word Works Director] Josie [Footmon-Smith] helped me out with that. I’ll be helping them on performance, writing, and editing. I’m just trying to get out to slam more and make more of a professional footprint in terms of that world as well.
Do you feel that your work has grown since before you applied to be in this role as the Atlanta Youth Poet Laureate, or just becoming a regular poet in the community?
I’ll say since I’ve joined Atlanta Word Works, my work has grown exponentially. And since I’ve joined as Youth Poet Laureate, my writing has improved as an artist. My vulnerability has improved. How I treat people, I would say has improved as well because I have a better understanding of myself through my work. So I’m constantly trying to find new ways to express myself in my own work. At some point, you realize, OK, what aspect of myself or my environment haven’t I explored yet?