Your feed won’t be as great if you’re not following @perksofjustine. If you’re active on Twitter, there’s a high chance you’ve come across her tweets in your timeline. Dabbling in writing poetry and spoken word, Justine is someone many look up to. If you want a sample of her writings, you can easily find them on her Twitter account or on her blog.
Book Allure has previously collaborated with Justine for the If Books Were Apps post, but today Book Allure has taken the time to interview Justine about her writing of poetry, spoken-word, plans of writing a novel, and of course, reading books!
- What inspired you to write poetry and where do you find inspiration?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but it was the kind of writing I never let anyone read. I kept a journal when I was young where I wrote how my day went, who pissed me off… stuff like that. Poetry came into play a little later. I had gotten a hold of my first copy of our school newspaper in fifth grade and I read it from cover to cover, amused, because I liked to read newspapers. I was drawn to the school paper so I started writing things I’d want people to read. These pieces ended up in the feature section and I gave poetry a try because at the time I was like, “Why not?” It was terrible, though—all rhyme but no content or substance. I started “seriously” writing poetry in 2013 when PoemsPorn became a thing LOL. Quotation marks because up to this day I still struggle with committing myself to the craft.
I often get inspiration from my friends! Whenever they open up to me and tell me their problems or how they’re feeling, at the back of my mind I’m like, “Yeah, girl, keep going. We’re up to something!” I think that being an empathic person has made it much easier for inspiration to find me because it doesn’t take much for me to understand what others are feeling and I think that that’s important when you write.
- You recently started doing spoken word. What made you transition from one to the other?
You know, life has a funny way of letting things fall into place so meticulously that you feel like nothing significant is happening. You realize this when looking back and as I look back, it wasn’t much of a transition. I think it was more of a merging of two skills—writing and public speaking. In my third year of high school, I had my first public speaking class and I loved it so much that in senior year I joined an oratorical contest. I ended up winning the contest, quietly hoping that I be given more opportunities like that.
When I entered college, I stumbled upon Neil Hillborn’s most popular spoken word performance, OCD, and freaked out because that was exactly I wished for a few months back! I was like, “Oh my god, this art involves two things I like to think I’m good at! And it’s considered an art!” I was excited beyond belief and told myself that I must try it at least once. I’ve been blessed enough to have performed more times than I had wished for and I hope I get to perform more.
- Can any written piece be performed for spoken word? Or do you make a piece specifically just for it?
Watching spoken word performances has taught me that not all pieces are meant for the stage—some are better off in print. When I was invited by my friend to perform for the first time, I went through all my best work and tried to read them aloud… I ended up disappointed because I felt like something was missing, leading me to compose new pieces. I believe that it’s best to make a piece for the purpose of performance if you’re starting out! It takes a lot of skill to perform any kind of piece without sounding stiff and awkward.
- You’ve talked about writing a novel. Do you have any ideas what the novel will be about?
Yes! It’s a coming of age novel about mental health issues and it is set in the Philippines. Mental health is something I’m really passionate about and I want to enlighten people about the reality of it. It’s ironic that [the] novel isn’t a love story—because I’m probably one of the most hopeless romantics ever—but I do not want to distract readers from the point I’m trying to make, or worse, come off as romanticizing anything.
- Has there been any progress in your novel?
The idea itself, yes, but not so much with actually writing it. The fear of not being enough for my own idea has scared me a few times, but I’m doing all that I can now to overcome it. The story turns 3 this September and it has grown so much since I first thought of it… I’ve also started outlining the plot recently and scheduling deadlines, making all the necessary changes before I start writing it next month!
- I also know that you’re a big fan of Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series and I’m sure you’ve heard that she’s writing three more books about it! How did you feel about that announcement and what are you expecting for the upcoming books?
YES!!! I was expecting a mere sequel to Ignite Me because she pretty much left us all hanging, but I’m so glad we’re getting more! Even though three more books is every bookworm’s dream, all I hope is that we get fresh content. I don’t want them to be dragging and as much as I love Warner and Juliette, I want to read more of what’s going on around them. Honestly, I just need more Kenji.
- Do you have any other favorite books or series that you’d like your followers to know about? Maybe some dream book boy that guys should follow after? *wink wink*
I’m going to be honest with you… I haven’t been reading much non-academic books lately so I don’t have new YA recommendations, although I recently bought a few books that are far from my taste: 1984 by George Orwell, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, and Habang Wala Pa Sila by Juan Miguel Severo. 1984’s the first classic ever that I’m reading. Mark Haddon’s book stars a child with autism so it’s a refreshing read, especially for a psychology major such as myself. The last one’s a collection of spoken word pieces in Filipino because I really would like to get over my fear of publicly speaking in Filipino and to perform a Filipino piece soon. So these current reads of mine are not only for pleasure but also a way to help me with my writing and spoken word. Even with books I’m taking a break from boys HAHA.
We also played Hot Seat to make things a little more fun!
- eBooks or hard copies?
Hard copies. Nothing beats the feel and smell of a book tbh
- Paperback or hardbound?
Paperbacks! They’re easier to carry around!
- Love triangles or ignorant (read as: dumb) main character?
Ignorant main character. Love triangles are bland, predictable, and boring. I can tolerate a dumb main character because then I’d have their character development to look forward to.
- Dog-eared pages or broken book spines?
Dog-eared pages. This is the most careless I’ve been with a book, really.
- Series or standalones?
Standalones. Series take much patience and interest, unlike standalones, which can easily be disposed of after reading if it has something you don’t like. I tend to invest in what I read so if the character’s a piece of crap in a series, whether I like them or not I usually motivate myself to finish the entire thing.
- Peter Kavinsky or John Ambrose McClaren?
Peter Kavinsky. But now that I look back on the series, I would go for neither. #SelfLove2017 HAHA
- Poetry or novels?
This is so foul what the heck I’d rather die than pick between these two.
- Book boys or real boys?
Book boys. I’m good with book boys… unless you’re referring to chinitos.
Thanks to Justine Reyes for taking the time to answer our questions and providing further insight into her writing!