In anticipation of the release of The Walnut Branch magazine Volume 1, we interviewed each featured artist to learn more about their artistic journeys, inspirations, and processes.

Today we spoke with Chattanooga poet, Chelsea Chatts.

Q: Can you share a bit about your artistic journey and what inspired you to pursue your chosen medium?

I’ve always been creative, but poetry is my therapeutic outlet. When I was diagnosed with severe high-functioning anxiety, I needed to find a healthy way to channel my feelings. That’s when I decided to revisit my love for writing. At the time I wasn’t necessarily trying to create art, but when I put pen to paper it came back naturally. Poetry has taught me how to dig into my untamed emotions and better understand the root of my personal struggles. That’s when I realized others may also resonate with my poems. We’ve all wandered off the beaten path at some point and I want readers to know they’re not alone in navigating these uncharted territories.

Q: How do you approach the creative process? Are there specific rituals or methods you follow to bring your ideas to life?  Other thoughts or comments 

Mornings and evenings are my time to check in with myself. In those moments, I just tune into my emotions and put pen to paper. If inspiration strikes while I’m busy or tired, I’ll jot down a note in my phone and revisit it when I’m able to check in with myself again.

Q: Who or what are your major artistic influences? How have they shaped your work? 

I’m always looking to my female powerhouse for inspiration; Halsey, Taylor Swift, and Kelsea Ballerini. These women are raw, real, and their words run deep. They are not afraid to tap into their emotions and say what they mean, even if it’s an unpopular opinion. Because these artists have hit home with so many people (including me), they’ve inspired me to write my poetry from a lyrical standpoint. After experimenting with lyric poetry, I realized this is the art form that I love and thrive in.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from your art? Is there a particular message or emotion you aim to convey?

Your feelings are valid. You are not alone. This too shall pass. Lean into discomfort. Grow where you’re planted. Home is not just a place, it’s also the space within yourself and those you love most. Learn to find joy in the little things because one day may realize those small moments were some of the happiest of your life.

Q: Can you share a challenge you’ve faced in your artistic journey and how it contributed to your growth as an artist?

Self-doubt has been the biggest challenge for me to overcome. What if I’m not talented enough? Will people make fun of me? Get upset if they are a source of inspiration for my art? Will I be trolled or ridiculed for taking a stand in something I believe in? If I’m being honest, the self-doubt still creeps in from time-to-time. However, the voice telling me I’m not good enough is slowly dissipating. I’ve come to a point where I’m not constantly worried about how my art will be perceived. Instead, I’m staying to true to myself and I have faith that the right people will gravitate towards my art. So far, it seems to be working out.

Q: Where do you see your artistic journey taking you in the future? Are there specific goals or projects you aspire to undertake in 2024?

I’m close to finishing my first book of poetry. Now more than ever, people are tapping into their emotions to better understand who they are and who they aspire to be. My hope is that 2024 will be the year that launches me as a full-time poet and author.

Walnut Street Publishing is a Chattanooga-based independent publisher that specializes in amplifying stories from new and experienced authors and artists. We build a bridge for authors and artists to their audience around the world. We do this by creating avenues for talented individuals to publish their work. We believe in working together to help bring stories to life. We specialize in helping new authors find their voice and assist them in the publishing process while also being a solution to experienced authors who want a more personal publisher.

Emily Quinn

Emily Quinn

Emily Quinn is a Chattanoogan that dabbles in many different art forms, from music and writing to digital art and watercolors. She is the Social Media Manager for Walnut Street Publishing and a volunteer with Reach One Teach One UCA. Emily is a proud cat mom of 3, but most notably, she is the lucky wife of the talented writer, Aaron Quinn.