Today I’m chuffed to be able to introduce a fellow Skylight author – Dee Sunshine, who leads a fascinating life on the road. As well as being a talented writer he’s also a fantastic artist – check out his book cover. Dee added one of these questions himself – let’s see if we can guess which one …
Tell me a little bit about yourself as a person?
I am currently living the life of a new age gypsy. I sold my house in 2006 and went off to the South of Spain in a camper van with my ex and child. We returned to Scotland a year later and I gave the default lifestyle one last try, before packing a rucksack and heading out into the wild blue yonder. I spent a bit more time back in Spain, but mainly I have lived/ travelled in Asia, dividing my time between India and Thailand and, most recently, Bali.
In the last four years I have developed a passion for yoga, especially tantric yoga. I am now a yoga teacher and a tantric massage therapist. I have written hardly anything since my discovery of yoga. The empty hole that fed the passion for creating poetry and art is so much smaller now. That said, I believe I will return to creative mediums. Lines of poetry whisper through my head these days, commanding my attention… and one day, probably soon, I will give in and write down what I hear. I no longer think of this poetry as “mine”.
Tell me about your journey as a writer – how you started and how you have developed?
Lordy, now you are asking me to write a book… and it is a book, the story of my journey as a writer. It starts in 1976, I think, when a poem I wrote got published in the Lochaber High School magazine, or was it 1977? I don’t remember exactly… anyway, it was an event that got my wee ego into a frantic scrabble – looking for approval anywhere, as it was inclined – and so started a “career” of writing poetry.
But it was very much an on/off love affair… and I frequently stopped writing poetry for years at a time, because I couldn’t see the point in poetry, and, truth be told, still don’t see the point… but, fortunately, no longer care if there is a point. I write, when I do, because I must, and that’s that.
As for my development, well that’s been an ongoing process of gradual refinement. I started with my guts burning and these days I have visions of angels, but my progress makes total sense to me. One day I intend to write a collection that I will have critics calling me a modern-day Rumi or Kahlil Gibran; a collection composed of beautiful, soaring poems that will transport the reader on rapturous wings beyond the clouds into a bright, blinding blue sky.
How would you describe your work – its themes and the important things about it?
My work, recently, has been mainly uplifting and transcendent in nature, but still with the presence of the shadow side. It comes in fits and starts, and hasn’t come for a few years now, but I feel it whispering on the horizon and am relatively sure a creative spell is imminent. The work that will arrive will be different to what I have written lately and significantly different to my latest collection, “Visions Of The Drowning Man”
Tell me about your current book – what is it about and what makes it a great read?
My latest collection, “Visions Of The Drowning Man” is technically my third book of poetry, but it actually predates my second collection, “Dropping Ecstasy With The Angels”. The poems from “Visions Of The Drowning Man” date from approximately 1992 to 1998. Many of the poems, written in the early 1990s were written around what proved to be a very disappointing spiritual awakening. At the beginning of 1993, after a life crisis, I opened up to Spiritual Healing and went on something of a spiritual pilgrimage that saw me living with the Iona Community and at the Findhorn Foundation and saw me brought back to ground from the ridiculous highs and expectations. I mean, I really did think I was something special at the time – and it would be embarrassing to admit this now, if I actually cared – but you know what, I was so “special” I couldn’t even quit smoking, you know?!!!
Much of the poetry in this collection is really about spiritual desperation and there is a lot of gritty stuff about what appeared to me to be the loveless, soulless world that I thought I lived in
So why did it take so long for these poems from the 1990s to see the light of day? Well, they are mostly longer poems and sequences and they just took a long time to work on and polish up ready for public display. And some of them – not many – actually belong chronologically to the era of “Dropping Ecstasy With The Angels” but didn’t feel like they belonged in that collection, or they just weren’t resolved adequately at the time.
The manuscript for “Visions Of The Drowning Man” was actually completed round about 2005, not so long after “Dropping Ecstasy With The Angels” was published and it was accepted for publication by a publisher who shall remain nameless in 2006 and due to be published in 2007, but they pulled out on me and I slumped into one of my periodic, “what’s the fucking point” poet-depressions after that and considered myself to be entirely out of the game. In 2009 I had a brief renaissance and published “Visions Of The Drowning Man” as a free e-book with Obooko.com alongside my previous, now out of print collections, “The Bad Seed” and “Dropping Ecstasy With the Angels”.
I was happy enough with this arrangement, happy to offer my work for free, but then I got contacted by Daniel at Skylight Press concerning a listing in the AA Independent Press Guide (which I published in one guise or another from 1998 until 2011). The way that he described the poets he was looking for… something like radical or independent (can’t actually remember) sounded like me, so I sent him my manuscript and within 6 months it was in print. Boom shankar!
And, hey, what makes it a great read? Well, it’s a journey into the dark underbelly of the soul as it searches for its reason to be, its purpose, its self, its non-self, its… what exactly? And that is it… what exactly? I think this is one of the things that torment many people today… what the fuck is it all about? This collection should resonate beautifully with the What-The-Fuck-Is-It-All-About Generation. It’s gritty; it’s got guts; it scrapes around in the sewers, trying to punch holes in the walls to see the stars and smell the salt tang of distant seas. It’s a book for dreamers to dream as they ride the ship of fools. It’s a book for those who have ridden the crazy kaleidoscopic rides at Ma Durga’s Amazing Cascading Circus and come out the other side into the clean new air of a fresh tomorrow.
Where can I buy a copy of your book?
If you are the kind-hearted type you will buy it direct from my publisher, ensuring that I actually get just slightly over a quid per copy sold:
If you prefer going down the corporate path and funding Amazon to new heights of profitability you can get it at Amazon (UK),
www.amazon.co.uk/Visions-Drowning-Man-Dee-Sunshine/dp/1908011424 or if you have the good fortune to live outside the UK you can buy it from the bigger, brighter, better, more dollar-friendly Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Visions-Drowning-Man-Dee-Sunshine/dp/1908011424.
Other than that, just go into your local bookstore and tell them the name of the book, the name of the author and see them do their computer wizardry and in a few weeks time they’ll have it for you. Couldn’t be more easier really and it costs way less than a packet of cigarettes and a six-pack… and it won’t give you cancer or cause liver failure. What more could you want from a simple book of poetry? Or actually, not that simple, for it also has 21 complex, alluring and at times beautiful illustrations that sit perfectly with the poetry.
And how can fans get in touch with you to offer sexual favours?
I don’t normally advertise my whereabouts because of the ever-present danger of being stalked by mad-for-it, teenage poetry appreciaters who want to know the meaning of my poems or sometimes even the meaning of life, but the offer of sexual favours puts a whole different complexion on things. You’ve got to love poetry groupies, don’t you?!!! So yes, at present I’m in the town of Ubud in Bali (made famous by the book and film, “Eat, Pray, Love”), but by the time you read this I could be anywhere. If you really want to stay in touch, you can friend me on Facebook;
www.facebook.com/captainmelted and if you want to be drip-fed a steady diet of poems, pictures and musical ditties then go to www.facebook.com/Sunshine.Visions and hit “like”. Aside from that you can get in touch with me by old-fashioned email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh, and for those of you who have an aversion to Facebook, especially those who believe it is a CIA conspiracy, well you can read many of my poems and browse through a huge gallery of my artworks on my website at www.thunderburst.co.uk and listen out, brothers and sisters, if you get as far as viewing my portfolio and love it as much as I do, well you can purchase cheap, but beautifully produced cards, prints and posters of my art at http://www.redbubble.com/people/deesunshine/portfolio.
Adios for the now… and God bless to you all!