As we celebrate the Creative Industries’ contributions to Seattle’s identity and economy, we share this virtual interview between local creatives and business owners devon de Leña (she/her) and Ebo Barton (they/he).
Ebo discusses with devon the journey to becoming the poet they are today, what it is like to be an artist who is values-aligned, connecting with the LGBTQ+ community and using poetry for advocacy, how to make a financially sustainable career in a creative field, and more.
devon: How do you stay creatively ambitious and rigorous and stay aligned with your values as a working artist?
Ebo: I have this battle a lot because how do I put a price on this thing that I do? Finding your definition of freedom for yourself and having that sense of freedom for yourself unlocks your whole path for me. Giving yourself a price is probably the hardest thing to do, especially when you’re talking about your identities and all of this heavy stuff. But I think that what I found is the line of: What part of this is my passion and what part of this has business, right? And so, when I’m writing a poem for some corporation and they’re going to put on a commercial for 30 seconds, I know that there is a bank load of stuff happening there that I can give my real friends. But if I am doing a poem on the steps of City Hall, that’s totally different, that’s part of my passion. That also helps me be part of the world, and be heard, and be seen and all of that. So those two things are different.
When talking about Ebo’s journey to becoming who they are today, Ebo said, “I was able to connect to LGBTQ communities; I’m part of that alphabet of people in so many different ways and so I was able to use my poetry to then advocate for [LGBTQ] folks, or young folks or whatever it is. What I’m learning now is that it’s not really the power of poetry, but the power to articulate what it is that you want people to know that is really the tool and the resource that poets and writers have. Or the ability to tell a story in a way that many people will understand versus the one singular person.”
For more on this conversation, watch the full interview here.
devon de Leña is an award-winning filmmaker, embodied leadership coach and somatic healer born and raised on Duwamish Territory (Seattle). Her vision is to help produce authentic media that illuminates the voices and stories of Black, Indigenous, People of Color, LGBTQ+, young folx, artists and creators to cultivate their own narratives and celebrate culture. Listen to her podcast, Finding Our Way, and find out more about her work here or on Instagram. The film screening of the iMPACT LENS: Hilltopia Narrative Justice Film Fellowship is on Saturday, June 26.
A leader in arts and activism, Ebo Barton is committed to creating opportunities for others to organize, heal and rejoice. From their bio, “Ebo Barton comes from salt — from the moment before worlds converge. In this world, we are still trying to articulate that mixed Black and Filipino, Transgender and Non-Binary, Queer, Artists and Educators not only matter but are precious. In another world, Barton is loved, safe, and valued.” You can buy their new book, Insubordinate, and find their poetry here as well as on social media (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook).