We had the good fortune of connecting with Sam Reichman and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sam, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I’ve drawn, painted, and written since I was a kid, but I always thought pursuing the arts full-time was impractical or selfish, so I didn’t pursue an artistic career right away. I started studying Arabic and geopolitics in high school, got my undergrad in Middle Eastern studies, and worked with a nonprofit that helped scholar-refugees after I graduated from college.

I burnt out pretty fast in that field. Whenever I wasn’t working, I was at the Met, the Nuyorican, drawing, painting, writing, performing. Eventually, I realized that pursuing a career that I wasn’t suited for wasn’t helping me or the people I was supposed to be serving. I quit to study drawing and painting full-time; a year later I started my M.F.A. in poetry.

Since I’ve transitioned to this field, I’ve come to realize that choosing between what makes you happy and helping others is no choice at all. Maintaining my own creative practice, teaching, editing, collaborating — these have helped make me whole, allowed me to be my best for myself and for others.

Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
After I quit my caseworker job, things were tough. I was #blessed to get not one, but two free art educations, which was incredible . . . but also time-consuming. I still had to pay my rent and bills, so I was working full-time and in school full-time. It was a lot, and I had to do some pretty strange gigs to get the bills paid. On the plus side, it made me very, very efficient with managing my time, which is a huge asset to have as an artist.

As far as what sets me apart, I think it’s not so much me as it is my influences. I started off in spoken word before going into page poetry; both are a big part of my writing and my performance work now. My years of studying Arabic also exposed me to a lot of wonderful Arabic-language poetry, and translating Arabic poetry has been a big influence for me. In painting, I also pull from a lot of different genres in my visual art, and my work often combines different traditions. Collaborating with artists in other disciplines, particularly music and dance, has also introduced me to a lot of helpful ideas that have enriched my work.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Definitely would put Mercury Cafe on the list, really for any of their events, but I’d definitely want to take them to some music and poetry nights. Mutiny Information Cafe would also make the cut, as would the galleries on Santa Fe and the murals in RiNo. Of course, I’d want to bring them to the mountains too!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My teachers and mentors — Tom Sleigh, Donna Masini, Catherine Barnett, Garin Baker, John Varriano, Frank Porcu, and many, many others. I also want to shout out my fellow editors at Consequence. We have a huge staff, so I’ll just mention our poetry team — Kate Hollander, Mil Mijatović, Elaine Johanson, and Peter Brown — and our executive editor, Matthew Krajniak. But the whole staff are rock stars.

Website: www.slreichman.com/

Instagram: instagram.com/srleichman

Twitter: twitter.com/slreichman

Other: https://www.patreon.com/SamReichmanArt

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