When I first started the Inspirations series, my goal was to showcase individuals who had created or accomplished inspirational things, sometimes in spite of incredible adversity. Today, I feel incredibly blessed to share what I feel may be our most inspirational interview to date. Meet poet and published author, David Constantine.
David Constantine was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and emigrated to Canada with his family as a child. David was creative from the start, with a desire, in his own words, ” to make something out of nothing[…] to make things that would better my family’s life and change the world for the better”. He found himself inspired by rap music, wanting to become an artist himself from the time he first heard 90s teen superstars Kriss Kross. His discovery of rap also sparked his fascination and love of writing.
When he was just 10 years old, David’s mother left him and his sisters to come to Canada to work and raise money to bring her children over the following year. Shortly after their arrival, tragedy struck. David’s father, who had been living in the U.S., was murdered. “Nothing was the same after that,” he said.
After that huge loss, David found himself full of anger and rage, so he turned to his passion for writing, that then became the much-needed outlet for the tumultuous emotions he needed to express. Despite his best efforts, his family tragedy, financial hardship, depression, and internal strife began to take their toll, and by 19 David found himself deeply depressed and struggling with intense mental health issues. After years of struggle, David’s mother brought him to Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health so he could get the help he needed. But for David, it felt like abandonment. “I felt like I had no way out and that nobody believed in me as a human being. As if I’m the only one that’s crazy.”
And again, he turned to his most trusted companion, his writing. He put words to paper daily, to express the thoughts and emotions bubbling inside of him. Once he was released from CAMH, he even dabbled in rap music, releasing multiple tracks under the moniker “Dyce Life”. Between his two art forms, David had built himself a huge collection of poems. It was then he decided to make a lifelong dream come true: to publish a book of his work. And that’s exactly what he did. After researching online, David decided to self publish his book of poetry, scrimping and saving every penny he could from the fixed income he lives on. With the editing help and guidance of his trusted social workers, When I was Touched by Love was published at the end of 2018.
When I Was Touched By Love is a book of poems divided into six chapters about love, heartache, pain and the beauty of both life and art. It depicts the rise and fall of a man mentally and emotionally heartbroken, yet full of sunshine. Here is a sample, and one of David’s favorite poems from the book:
“I started to miss the poems I fed to the waste bin, I put them in as if they were nothing to me. But now that they are long gone, their memory is bugging me insanely. Now who will love them like I did, who will treasure them like I did. I’m so sorry I ripped and tore them to pieces out of my own anger, they got the worst of it. I’m so sorry my lost and forgotten words, one day I hope you will fall into the pages of my book again. You were the best of me, only I could see. I’m very sorry. Forgive me.”
For the incredible adversity David has overcome, the perseverance he has shown in accomplishing his goal, and the hope he gives, I’m happy to share David’s story in his own words below.
What piece of advice would you give to someone trying to do what you do, or trying to follow their own dreams?
I once had someone in my own family tell me “I don’t see you as no writer”. But ya know what I did – I kept on writing even though my spirit was crushed. My advice to someone trying to follow their dreams would be to not let words or negative people steal your dream away from you. Never give in and never give up, stay focused and let the love of your art lead the way. Do what you love.
When the going gets tough keep pushing on, because you never know when things are going to change for the better.
What are some of the successes (big or small) you’ve had?
Publishing my book is my biggest achievement to date. It took me 16 years to complete it and to make my dream come true. I put all my blood, sweat and tears into my poems. Ever since I started writing I wanted to put out a book- it was my goal from the beginning. Down the road I would like to become a rap artist too, if it’s not too late.
Who (person or organization) inspires you?
Lindsay Sills has been in my corner more than anybody else and she always inspires me to keep pushing myself, she is an amazing human being.
What is your WHY?
The reason I write poems is to get stuff off my chest. When I have no one to talk to I put my thoughts between the lines. The page becomes my best friend, there is no judgement and there is no pressure. Book in hand, pen in hand and that’s where it goes down.
How do you manage to do it all?
I self-published my book, which was very difficult to do because I had a small budget and am living on a fixed income. It took me months of budgeting and sacrificing, the cash was thin and I had to really stretch it to make it happen. Thanks to the Madison Community room where I eat pretty much every day, I was able to afford to publish my book. Special thanks to Madison Community Services. Thank you.
If you could pick one charitable organization to ask our readers to donate to or volunteer with, which would it be?
Madison Community Services is a community based, non-profit mental health agency that promotes the independence, health, recovery and community integration of person with mental health challenges through a range of services including supportive housing.
Support this passionate and hardworking poet by following him on social media and by purchasing his book today. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, please contact the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health if you’re in Toronto, or a local organization near you.