Port Alice resident Brendon Wilkie will have his poetry published by a major global publisher, Austin McCauley.
The work is entitled, ‘The Book of 1000 Poems, volumes 1-4’, under the pseudonym Conshinz.
It will be coming out in the new year and distributed in India, Canada, USA, Austrialia, the United Arab Emirates and the UK. It is the first few of several volumes of poetry he wrote while struggling with serious mental illness.
As a youth, Wilkie was gigging in a three piece punk rock band called Sponge Cookie. His life took a dramatic turn at age 16 when he ended up in a car accident and acquired a traumatic brain injury. Nearly 20 years later, after his brain rebuilt itself, he ended up with a major depressive disorder with mixed features. He also has PTSD and a cluster B personality disorder. He also has an “emotional deficit”—he doesn’t experience emotions the same way as other people.
When Wilkie’s mental illness became established about 3 years ago, he used writing poetry as a way to cope. “With my condition, if I’m unmedicated, I have spinning thoughts that make audible sounds. I can hear my thoughts and they spin so fast it’s confusing – so generally, when I write, my process is to slow that process down so that I can actually make sense of what my brain is throwing around inside my head.”
His main literary influence is Charles Bukowski, whose work he describes as “crass and offensive, especially at first read.” Wilke states, “I try to jar people with offensiveness so I might throw in some unnecessary swear words just to get your mind rolling the right way.”
Although poetry is usually considered the ultimate medium for expressing emotion, he considers his work to be, “not necessarily about emotions.” In his view, it is about “alterative perceptions,” for example, “looking at everyday things in a different light… for example all of the stuff that is going on with trans rights and politics and global warming and what we’re doing to the world. I try to take a fresh look and get people to think about it differently: maybe not be so selfish and think about how they can affect other people other than themselves through words especially.”
With his intensely provocative writing style, it would be stretch to say that he is not expressing emotion. Perhaps Wilkie’s emotions are operating incognito, manifesting a separate life in verse.
Wilkie’s path to publication started with single poem posts on Instagram. When Austin McCauley posted that they were accepting submissions, he submitted a manuscript and was accepted two months later. Before this publishing deal, he had self-published 11 books with Amazon.
Wilkie is now on medication and living a normal life with his life partner, Emily, and their two-year-old son, Lionel. He works as an addictions support worker and volunteers for the Port Alice Lion’s Club.
Wilkie finds his medication, meant for schizophrenia, is keeping his mind at peace. Since taking it, he says, “I actually find my writing is better but less abundant.” He originally wrote 1,000 Poems in a manic state. His self-published version was riddled with grammatical errors (though it obviously won’t be in the Austin McCauley version). Comparing it with another work, Cigarettes and Whiskey, that he wrote while he was on the anti-psychotic medication, he says, “You can see the difference between the two: one’s written manic and sloppy and really, really emotionally graphic and the other one is a little more prophetic and quiet.”
– Debra Lynn article