Arts·Heartbreak to Art

Two minds, one home: After seeing his twin brother struggle with depression, he wrote him this poem

Watch Toronto slam poet Justin G. perform "Siamese Twin" and see how he turns "Heartbreak into Art."

Watch Toronto slam poet Justin G. perform 'Siamese Twin' and see how he turns 'Heartbreak into Art'

Seeing his brother suffering from depression, he wrote this poem for him

5 years ago
Duration 1:23
In Heartbreak to Art, artists show the transformative power of creativity in difficult times.

Toronto artist Justin G. delivers a poem called "Siamese Twins" in this latest video from our series, Heartbreak to Art. "I've only had one true best friend in life, and that is my twin brother," he told CBC Arts over email. "This poem is a response to the very difficult journey he endured while struggling with depression." Written four years ago, the poet's performed the piece at competitions around North America. So who is the man behind the words? He shared this with us...

Name: Justin Gordon, a.k.a. Justin G. (@_justgo)

Age: 23

Hometown: Toronto

Lives and works: Toronto. A former member of the Toronto Poetry Slam Team, he also works as a high school teacher and server in the area.

Art: Poetry

His style: "I'd describe my art as tactile — as performance art can be sometimes. I try to create a visceral experience for those who are kind enough to listen to my work."

Career highlights: As a slam poet, he's competed across North America, including a 2015 trip to the National Poetry Slam in Oakland, CA. "I would have to say my favourite career highlight was being able to return to my old high school and run a series of writing workshops for the students," he says. "To see any generation getting excited about writing encourages me to continue doing it myself."

Why slam poetry? "An old friend of mine invited me to a poetry slam in Toronto. I agreed to go without knowing what to expect. I ended up loving it and have been writing ever since. I've always been interested in written prose and poetry, but the added theatrical component of slam is what sealed the deal for me."

On turning heartbreak into art: "I wouldn't say my art is healing as much as it allows me to approach what's weighing on my mind in a different way. If I'm experiencing a significant change or event in my life, I will create a piece that reflects that change and simultaneously helps me to better understand myself and how I feel in the process."

What's next? "I'm stepping away from slam for the time being to work on other creative endeavours," he says. Music is his current interest, and he's also in the early stages of writing a children's book. "All artists strive to keep evolving — it's the nature of the game."

Heartbreak to Art is a CBC Arts web series about the transformative power of creativity. In each episode, a different Canadian artist shares a disarmingly personal story. These dancers, musicians, painters and poets have all lived through deeply emotional challenges, and they reveal how art saw them through. A collection of impressionistic portraits, the series' director, Karena Evans, puts it this way: these films are "about what every real story is truly about — how the human heart changes."

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