Poet, Rapper, Teacher, Novelist, Activist. The multi-talented artist Tourettes spoke to us about his latest creative ventures and being Dominic Hoey.

How was Rarotonga? Could you tell us a little bit about what you’re working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on a million things which is both exciting and exhausting. I’m writing a play, a dark comedy about having an autoimmune disease that will open at The Basement in July. So I spent most of March in Raro fighting off giant flying cockroaches and writing about my bones turning to dust. My first novel “Iceland” is coming out in June too so just franticly trying to get everything in order for that. And me and my good pal Eddy are working on a Web series about a down on his luck musician in his 30’s who wins a youth music comp and lives in his friends walk in wardrobe.

Was poetry something you’ve always been interested in? Something you’ve always wanted to do?

I think I always wanted to create and I have always written but I don’t think I really even knew what poetry was until I was in my early 20’s. Before that I was rapping and writing stuff that I guess could have been poetry if I had any kind of education. When I was 21 my girlfriend at the time was really into poetry and introduced me to the Beats and Bukowski, Anne Sexton etc. The thing I loved about all those poets was the contractions in their work: serious and funny, simple and complex. Then I got one of those “so you want to write poetry” books and taught myself the basics.

Your last album, Feel Like Shit, Looking Great tackles a lot of problems facing society today, especially in Auckland and wider New Zealand. A lot of your past poems also speak about your home-town of Auckland. What do you think are the main issues are with Auckland and if you could change anything about this city what would you change?

Housing of course. I think it’s criminal that a select few rich assholes are profiting off a basic human right. I’m lucky enough to have a reasonably priced house with minimal black mold but once we get kicked out of here I’m pretty keen to get out of this place.

You’re also a youth mentor for Ngā Rangatahi Toa as well as teach writing courses for people wanting to get into poetry and creative arts, how did you get involved with these ventures?

Been a youth mentor just came about at a chance meeting at a yoga class I was doing for my arthritis. At the time I was still quite sick and didn’t know what I was going to do for money as I couldn’t cook or do rap shows anymore which were the only ways I’d made money for most of my life. So that was a real godsend. It not only gave me a chance to make a little money but was a really incredible experience and taught me so much.

The adult writing classes came about because I was always helping people out with their work and wanted to try and share the ideas and techniques I’d learned over the last 20 odd years.

You’ve been very open about your illnesses and problems with the mental health system, does having this illness make it harder to be out there and helping youth and others?

I haven’t really dealt with the mental health system as such but have spent plenty of time at various clinics and specialists for my autoimmune disease.  It makes life a bit harder but in general it’s pushed me to work harder and really appreciate what I have. I spent almost a year not really been able to walk so now I feel like really lucky I can wander aimlessly through the city again.

Many of us are familiar with your political poems, but you also write personal and love poems etc. Is there a certain style or type of poem that you enjoy writing the most?

I probably prefer loves poems and the more personal stuff. But I guess things are so bad in this country at present that I felt like I had to write about what was going on.

Lastly, where can our readers find more of your work and hear your music?

My Bandcamp has all my albums on it, I post poems and other nonsense on my Instagram and Facebook and most of my recent videos are up on my YouTube.

View Tourettes’ beautiful poem kill list | View the rest of Issue 8 here

Interview by Chris Smith

Photography by Paul Taylor

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