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An Interview with Javier Sarmiento Jr, author of Stories of a Harlem Resident

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Javier Sarmiento Jr is an Afro-Latino writer from Harlem in New York City. He is a graduate of Buena Vista University with a degree in Digital media. He is a graduate of Guttman Community College with a degree in Liberal Arts. Sarmiento Jr won first place in the collegiate sports writing category of the Robert L. Vann Media Awards for his article “The Impact and Influence of LeBron James.” He was selected to be a part of the NABJ’s Student Multimedia Project. He produced two articles about race in the teaching and book industries.

He is an award-winning author. His poetry book Stories of a Harlem Resident won third place in the 2023 Spring Bookfest awards.

Follow Javier on Twitter @javibuckets and Instagram @javibuckets.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

What made want to write was I wanted a way to express myself in another way than speaking. I wanted to do it in a written manner that could show my thoughts.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

I had graduated from college that summer and I had a $500 scholarship that I won for writing an essay about my education and career goals. I love writing poetry as I won honorable mention in writer’s digest for one of my poems, so I decided why not write a poetry book? I took a poetry class in my sophomore year of college and was always volunteering to present my poems to the class. So I went to Google Docs, and used all the poems that I used for class assignments for the book.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

It was easy because I live in Harlem, New York, and most of the poems are stories of my experiences living in Harlem.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

“Am I Dreaming” by Metro Boomin, A$AP Rocky, and Roisee

“Victory Lap” by Nipsey Hussle

“GO DID” by DJ Khaled, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, and Jay-Z

Describe your dream book cover.

I am standing up with my hands in my pockets and smiling, looking at the sky.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I am an athlete and journalist. I won an award for sports writing. I won a sportsmanship award in my neighborhood basketball team. I’m very talented at basketball as I have the ability to make multiple shots without missing, hence my nickname, “Javibuckets.”

Also, I recently found that I have a talent for acting, so I’m going to pursue acting and see where it takes me. You will probably see me in the movie theaters and on the red carpet one day!

I was published in Business Insider for winning over 15 scholarships worth $13,000. The article is called “I grew up in poverty. Winning $13,000 in scholarships helped me graduate college debt-free.”

I read a LOT of motivational literature.

My favorite genres of music are rap and inspirational music.

What books did you read (for research or comfort) throughout your writing process?

Poetry books because I wanted to see what a good poetry book looked like.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I want readers to be inspired, motivated, and disciplined.

Throughout the book, the poems detail the highs and lows that I have experienced and the discipline it took to overcome the obstacles I faced to get me to where I am at today: An award-winning writer, author, college graduate, 15-scholarship winner, and athlete.

Anything is possible if you are disciplined enough to get to your dreams.

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