Â Dee Rimbaud is an artist, writer and new-age gypsy. His travels have taken him along the highways and byways of Europe and Asia. His favourite country is India, which he has visited several times; and where he met his partner, Su (on a bus to the ancient kingdom of Hampi). Su and Dee have one daughter, Rosie Sunshine, who was born on the Autumn Equinox, 2001. They spent several months travelling round Portugal, Spain and France in a small camper van the following year, and decided that they would sell up and live a life of no fixed abode before Rosie turned five. Dee’s first poetry collection, The Bad Seed was published in 1998 by Stride. His second collection, Dropping Ecstasy With The Angels was published in 2004 by Bluechrome who also published his novel, Stealing Heaven From The Lips Of God Dee’s website, which features his art and writing and various writers’ resources, is at www.thunderburst.co.uk.
Q. The Book of Hopes and Dreams was recently published by Bluechrome Press http://www.bluechrome.co.uk/store/shop/item.asp?itemid=126&catid=72 . The anthology was created to raise funds for a special cause and you were the editor. Could you tell us how the anthology came together and about the cause it was created to support?Â Â Â
When I was young I was very concerned about the state of the world and actively political.Â I went on demonstrations and even briefly enjoyed the privilege of standing outside 10 Downing Street with a group of activists, shouting “Maggie Maggie Maggie, Out Out Out!”Â Of course, our shouting had no effect.Â Nor, in fact, did any of our demonstrations.Â This was back in 1980.Â Soon after that the USA fell under the spell of Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr and thus began the nastiest, most retrograde two decades of the 20th Century.Â I watched from the sidelines, feeling powerless and horrified, as everything that previous generations had fought for gradually went to hell.Â I guess, like many people, I believed there was nothing I could actually do to stop this process.Â Then on the 11th September 2001 (whilst in hospital, after suffering a brain haemorrhage) I watched the world have its own brain haemorrhage.Â There are many people who believe this atrocity was orchestrated by neo-con conspirators; and I have certainly come across much evidence that supports this viewpoint.Â Whether or not it was a conspiracy, it was certainly a catalyst for the USA and the UK to begin a campaign of illegal wars, the first of which was against Afghanistan.Â It was also a catalyst for me to shake off the dust of decades of political apathy.Â I remember hearing on the radio that the USA had bombed a series of caves where Osama Bin Laden was supposed to have been hiding and they’d killed a bunch of goat-herders and their children.Â Having recently become a father, this news hit me with particular poignancy.Â I felt it in my guts like I’ve never felt anything before.Â And this feeling made me want to do something… but what?Â What the fuck could I do?Â About a year or two later I heard about the Glasgow charity, Spirit Aid (http://www.spiritaid.org.uk) and their brave endeavour to help the people of the far flung, mountainous province of Baglan in N.E. Afghanistan (a region particularly badly hit, not just by the Americans, but also by the Russians and the Taliban).Â Spirit Aid managed to raise enough money to buy a mobile clinic and bring medical personnel and supplies to people who had suffered for twenty-five years with no medical facilities whatsoever.Â It isn’t possible to calculate how many lives were saved because of this, but tens of thousands of people have had the quality of their lives improved.Â Spirit Aid are working tirelessly to raise money to provide more of these mobile clinics, with the eventual aim of serving the entire population of this region.Â Â
Inspired by Spirit Aid, I decided I would try to put together an anthology of poetry to help raise funds for them.Â I contacted my publisher, Bluechrome (http://www.bluechrome.co.uk) to see if they would be interested, and they were very supportive.Â So, I put out a call for submissions.Â I also wrote to as many big name poets as I could find details for, in the hope that I might be able to elicit a few contributions that would help raise the profile of the anthology. I was very pleasantly surprised and delighted by the response.Â Not just the response, but the support, and especially that of Michael Burch, Michael Horovitz and Roger Garfitt who deserve honourable mention for helping me elicit further contributions.Â
The Book Of Hopes And Dreams (http://www.rimbaud.org.uk/bookofhope1.html) has turned out to be bigger, better, brighter and bolder than even the wildest of my wild dreams, with contributions from some of the finest poets of our generation, including Simon Armitage, Margaret Atwood, Moniza Alvi, Alan Brownjohn, David Constantine, Cyril Dabydeen, Carol Anne Duffy, Ian Duhig, Ruth Fainlight, Vicki Feaver, Elaine Feinstein, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Charles Ades Fishman, Magi Gibson, Alasdair Gray, Tony Harrison, John Heath-Stubbs, Michael Horovitz, Mimi Khalvati, Tom Leonard, Robert Mezey, Edwin Morgan, Lawrence Sail, Myra Schneider, Penelope Shuttle, Jon Stallworthy and Anne Stevenson.Â There are also many outstanding contributions from a whole host of up-and-coming younger poets who you may not have heard of yet, but I guarantee you, one day you will!
The message of The Book Of Hopes And Dreams is quite simply this: that hopes and dreams will prevail, even in the bleakest of times… and as long as there are hopes and dreams there will people who work to put them into action.
Q. â€˜â€™Stealing Heaven From The Lips Of Godâ€™â€™ http://www.bluechrome.co.uk/store/shop/item.asp?itemid=52&catid=3Â brings the reader into the reality of the internet in our world today. The use of the blog format was quite interesting. What inspired the creation of this work?Â Â
I love the internet.Â It’s the best thing to have come out of the 20th Century.Â It’s an encyclopaedia of humanity in all its forms and functions; it’s a terrific meeting place; and it’s the perfect medium for shooting your mouth off.Â Most important of all, it’s truly democratic: everyone is allowed a voice (although there’s no guarantee anyone is going to listen).Â No-where do you see this demonstrated more than in the blogging phenomenon.Â There are hundreds of millions of bloggers out there; many of them bearing their souls to the cyber-universe; and probably just as many lying their bollocks off.Â Â
It was this very duality that attracted me to blogging as a possible medium for a novel.Â So, I created a persona for myself and joined Live Journal, where I wrote a fictionalised and confessional blog in real time.Â My alter-ego, Robbie, began his blog as an outlet for the turmoil he was feeling after a one-night stand that he knew was going to be more than just a one-night stand.Â He had a pre-cognitive feeling that his life was going to be turned upside down… and that is exactly what happened.Â Against his will, he began the agonising process of falling in love, and the course of that love was never destined to be smooth.Â You see, Robbie had a past – a very bad past – which he had run away from.Â He had just about managed to escape from it (mainly by seeking chemical oblivion), when along came love and forced him to face up to it.Â It put him through a terrible turmoil, but he found solace by confessing his sins in his blog.Â
It was a very interesting experience using a blog to write a piece of fiction, because everyone who read it assumed that it was genuine; and it generated many comments and even a few debates.Â At one point it attracted the attention of a few Born Again Christian nut jobs, one of whom told me I was going to fry in Hell for my sins.Â It also attracted the attention of some truly sympathetic people who felt real pain for Robbie as he did indeed fry in his own personal hell; and I’ve got to say, I felt pretty bad, deluding them for the sake of my art.Â However, once I had completed Robbie’s story I atoned for that particular sin by confessing that my blog had indeed been fiction; and I’m glad to report that most of those who followed it forgave me for my deception.Â I’m not sure whether the Born Again Christians forgave me, but I’m pretty sure they enjoyed themselves at the time, venting their righteous indignation.Â Â Â
Q. Who were and are your inspirations as an author/poet and do these influences still affect your work?Â Â
Â The poets that turned me on the most were Sylvia Plath, Edwin Morgan, T.S. Eliot and James Joyce (read Finniegan’s Wake and tell me Joyce wasn’t a poet!).Â I was also affected greatly by musicians who had a poetic sensibility, like Nick Cave, Syd Barrett, Jim Morrison and Patti Smith.Â I think, to this day, I can detect traces of all these influences in my poetry.Â I’ve been told that my work is neo-Beat (whatever that is), but I’ve never been a big fan of Ginsberg and his clan.Â The only “Beat” I had any real respect for was the novelist William Burroughs, who certainly influenced the way that I wrote prose.Â The writer who perhaps inspired me the most was Hermann Hesse, who I discovered when I was 16 or 17.Â His novels, “Steppenwolf” and “Siddhartha” particularly impressed me.Â I loved “Siddhartha” for its poetic sensibilities and also for its blend of Buddhist-Taoist wisdom.Â I could think of nothing better than to end my days, sitting at the bank of a river, listening to what it has to say.Â As for “Steppenwolf”, what can I say?Â I was so blown away by it that it became the skeleton upon which I hung the flesh of my first (still unfinished) novel, “Red Dreams And Razorblades”.Â If I ever do finish it, I’m sure critics will say it is like “Steppenwolf” on acid.Â They may also detect traces of Alasdair Gray’s “Lanark” there too.Â
Â Â Q. Do you see any dramatic differences in poetry produced in Scotland, England and
Ireland as opposed to the United States?
In the main, I don’t think there is that much difference between American, Scottish, Irish or English poetry.Â Our cultures are much more similar than they are different, and the poetry tends to reflect that, especially given that poetry has been hijacked by academia.Â Most literary magazines are run by university English departments or by ex English literature students and almost every literary critic comes from that background too.Â The magazine editors and critics are the ultimate arbiters of taste when it comes to poetry.Â They have the power to decide who shall rise and who shall fall; and sadly, their tastebuds have been tarnished by too many years of carving up and analysing poems.Â They are like vivisectionists: jaded to the living, breathing thing that is a poem; and only ever excited when they can cut their scalpels into it and rummage around inside its guts.Â So, the poems they prefer are intellectual, complex and feelingless.Â I would add, they are by and large meaningless.Â Really, it strikes me that most of the “poets” that rise to the top of the food chain don’t really write poetry at all: what they do is more like a form of cerebral masturbation; and the truth of it is that most people think it’s a pile of wank.Â
Q. The AA Independent Press Guide http://www.rimbaud.org.uk/ is an excellent resource for writers/poets and those looking for quality writing and contacts. How did this project come about and how do you find the time to keep updating the site?Â Â
Well, it all started off with me collating the names and addresses of poetry magazines that I wanted to submit my work to.Â The list gradually grew and grew.Â Ten years ago, I launched a poetry magazine, Acid Angel.Â It was a short-lived affair, as most poetry magazines are, but it was there that the “Acid Angel Small Press Listings” first saw the light of day, as an appendix to the magazine.Â After Acid Angel bit the dust, I started printing-on-demand, what then became the AA Small Press Listings and then The AA Independent Press Guide, after one magazine editor complained to me “we are not small, we are independent!“Â At first it was only British magazines that I listed, but then I found out that a high percentage of American magazines actually pay you for publishing your work, so I spent ages tracking down the names and addresses of American magazines.Â And although it was hard work, it paid off, because every now and then I’d get a cheque for $50 or $100 in the post.Â Beneficial as this was, it did create a problem.Â It made The AA Independent Press Guide too large for my crappy old printer to handle.Â So, briefly, I published it on CD Rom.Â Then, I tried to negotiate its publication with a major
UK publisher, who I probably can’t name for legal reasons, and they shafted me.Â They not only stole my concept, but much of the information too!Â So, I thought, fuck them!Â I decided to publish The AA Independent Press Guide on the internet; and I decided that I would make it free for everybody.Â I was that pissed off by the way that I was treated by the publishers that I had a Damascus Road type conversion to Internetianity whose fundamental creed states that information should be freely available to everyone.Â Â
I have actually become almost zealously religious about the Internet.Â I can’t tell you how many hours I have put into updating, expanding and developing my website.Â It started off as a mere port-folio for my art and writing and has now become (in my humble opinion) one of the best free writers’ resources websites out there.Â The AA Independent Press Guide now has detailed information on more than 2,000 independent literary magazines and publishers worldwide.Â There’s a links page with over 800 hotlinks to internet-zines.Â There’s a links page with hotlinks to nearly 1,000 writers’ websites (and this page is currently undergoing a re-vamp to include photo-links of these writers).Â There’s a section of interviews conducted with writers and artists.Â There’s a page of links to other writers’ resources.Â There’s even an article of Tips For Novice Writers, which outlines the Dos and Donts of magazine submission etiquette.Â
I may well even have become slightly obsessive-compulsive about developing my website.Â Certainly, I can’t remember the last time I wrote a poem… and my daughter just burst in there and told me “Dad, you’re so boring, you’re always working!”Â So, maybe it’s getting close to the time where I should scale down this operation.Â I guess, if it actually paid the bills I could justify the hours I put into it, but I don’t get paid a penny.Â The last time I earned anything through it was back in February when someone kindly sent me a $5 donation toward the upkeep and maintenance of the site.Â Â Â
Q. You recently completed a journey across Europe and spent quite a bit time in
Spain. I know it will be difficult but could you briefly describe this adventure?Â
Briefly?Â Have you seen the way I answered the last few questions?Â I wouldn’t know brevity if it bit me on the arse!Â It’s just not my style.Â However, I can see that this interview is growing like a fungus, so I will try to keep it short.Â My partner and I sold our flat back in August 2006 and bought a van and headed off in the direction of Spain, with our daughter, Rosie in tow.Â We had a fair few unanticipated mishaps along the way, but gradually settled into a new life on the road.Â We spent the bulk of our time travelling round the South of Spain and Portugal, settling for a while in Isla Cristina and briefly in Lanjaron.Â
It wasn’t the easiest of trips for our daughter, who was pretty freaked out by people speaking a different language all the time, but we eventually found a place that we thought would be near perfect for us, the village of Orgiva, near Lanjaron, where there was a sizeable community of hippie/ new age traveller Brits.Â They even had a bi-lingual Steiner-type school.Â
At the end of May, we returned to Scotland, for what was supposed to be a two month visit, but it very quickly became clear to us that Rosie feels much more settled and happy here in Glasgow.Â So, we have decided not to return to Spain.Â That’s the adventure, described as briefly as possible.Â However, it is written about in considerably more detail in my travel-blog at http://aaron-aardvark.blogspot.com/Â Â
Q. Can you tell our readers about your book â€˜â€™Dropping Ecstasy With The Angelsâ€™â€™?Â
“Dropping Ecstasy With The Angels” is my second collection of poetry.Â It was published in 2004 in the
UK by Bluechrome.Â It is very different from my first collection “The Bad Seed”, which was about as dark as you can get without burying yourself alive.Â There is a lightness and a brightness to many of the poems in “Dropping Ecstasy With The Angels”, which reflects a change of head and heart that I had back in 1997, when – at the rather late age of 35 – I discovered the drug, Ecstasy.Â The late 1990′s was a time of profound spiritual awakening for me: no less poignant for being chemically induced.Â I regained a lost sense of innocence and an even more lost sense of optimism.Â What’s more, I had a fantastic time and I danced my arse off.Â That said, the collection is not all beauty and light.Â Many of the poems were written before 1997 and even some of those that were written after 1997 are dark.Â Â Â
Q.Â On your blog there is a detailed entry entitled â€˜â€™ No… I’m Not A Poet (honest) â€˜â€™. I enjoyed the opening â€˜â€™ Now, what with it being Friday the 13th and all, it’s probably going to bring me bad luck to say this, but… poets are such a bunch of self-regarding toss-pots. This is why I don’t hang out with them, even though I write the stuff myself.â€™â€™ In all fairness the entry does go on a bit to explain that yes you are a poet. Is there anything else you would like to add here ?Â Â
Â I think I covered a lot of that in one of my previous answers.Â Truth be told, I am totally disenchanted with the poetry establishment.Â I find myself wondering why I bother writing the bloody stuff, considering how many other people write it and how few people actually read it.Â I think poetry is one of the most stagnant, constipated art forms going, and it seems to have little to offer… and at this juncture in my life, I am not sure if I want to continue being a “poet”.Â I’m sure I’ll continue to write poetry, but not because I want to, more because I have to.Â Whether or not I stay in the poetry publishing game or not is another matter. Â Â
Q. The United States has a large population descendent from the Scots-Irish and William Wallace is a popular figure here. Scotlandâ€™s independence movement seems to be gaining steam. Do you think you will see an independent Scotland in your lifetime?Â
To be honest, I’m not convinced I will see an independent Scotland in my lifetime.Â The latest surge of support for the Scottish Nationalist Party will probably be short-lived, if Britain’s new prime minister, Gordon Brown, plays his cards right.Â Everyone in Scotland hated Tony Blair for selling the Labour Party down the river, especially after eighteen years of living under the yoke of the Conservative Party.Â All Brown has to do is inject a little socialism back into The Labour Party and support for the S.N.P. will dwindle. Whether or not he has the wisdom or, indeed, the power to do so remains to be seen.Â
I for one would welcome an independent Scotland.Â Not out of a sense of nationalism, but because small nation states tend to have governments that are so much more democratic and accountable.Â They are also generally a lot more equitable, with much narrower gaps between the rich and the poor.Â In
Britain, at present, like in America, the gap between the richest and the poorest is indefensible.Â There are multi-millionaires and even billionaire living in the lap of luxury at the top end and at the bottom end there are people trying to scrape by on welfare cheques of Â£50 ($100) a week.Â
I think the wealth of our nations should be shared out a bit more, don’t you?Â Certainly most Scots believe that!Â
Q. As you enter middle age do you tend to see things through a different filter and is it reflected in your writing?Â
I’m not sure I am entering middle age.Â I don’t feel middle-aged.Â Â Â
Q. Do you have any new projects in the works or other works in publications that may be of interest?
I’ve got a pile of projects in the pipeline, but I don’t want to jinx them by talking about them.Â At the moment I am working on a massive re-vamp and expansion of my websiteÂ and that is all I can think about at present.Â I’m also exploring some new mediums and avenues of creativity, but its early days yet and I’ve a lot of exploring and experimenting to do before I can be sure that anything will come of it.Â