People often ask me, “Why do you write?” and though, in their minds, they have already crafted my answer, my response usually shocks or worries them. “So that I never drink another drop of alcohol again,” I say, or write, as honestly as I can. The response usually elicits a soft gasp, or stammer, or even some batting eyelids because people, for the life of them, always think the answer will be something romantic. Unfortunately, that is not the answer, for me.
I can attest that writing for me, at one point, was all about romance and love poems, love songs and sonnets. I began writing at the fragile age of 14, writing songs in my bedroom for a few girls in high school I had crushes on. As I grew, my love of the folk ballad did as well. I had classical guitar training since I was 7 years old, and my father was a closet folk rock genius whose records would only ever be heard by me, my mother and my brother. So, I began the journey he decided not to take.
Songwriting through high school, I entered University with a love for language, and rhyme and set out to complete an English Literature degree. Upon completing University, I had solidified myself as a local singer/songwriter and played in many a tavern and coffee shop with one of my 2 bands or as a solo artist. I recorded a few LP’s and learned a lot about the indie music industry in Canada.
Fast forward to 12 years ago, I eased into marriage, 3 kids, a good job in the Insurance industry and writing took a backseat. Not so much because of all the blessings evident in the previous sentence, but because I had taken that love for writing and replaced with an unhealthy idol: alcohol.
Looking back, I don’t know how it happened, but the guitars got dusty, the songbook laid bare, and my love-poems to my wife dried up along with her garden I neglected to tend. Stress of the job, the demand to be present and sell myself in the insurance world to prospects and clients, my life began to be swallowed up by long liquid lunches and dinners.
It wasn’t long, say 5 years ago, when our son received an autism diagnosis, when I began to drink heavily and with abandon. My wife, seeing a need to retreat, bought a typewriter and began to write small poems about her experiences with depression and bipolar 2 (a longer, more tender story for another time). I saw what light it brought into her dark world, a similar light that the children did when they awoke each morning. So, I took a chance and discovered my voice again.
Still, alcohol had its way. My poems were dark, foreboding, angry and lost. Love was nowhere to be found. For the next two and a half years, I wrote through my addiction and never once wrote something I was proud of. Then one night, after coming home drunk again, the writing was on the wall and on her face. The camel’s back was finally broken, and it was time to get sober. This was late 2014 and still for the next 8 months I struggled to get sober on my own.
Writing took on new life as I began to struggle to find a way to not drink, be happy, be present and be a man. But nothing was working, until I set my mind to a project. At the behest of my uncle (also a recovered alcoholic) I went to a meeting of like minded men and women to work a 12 step program. Here, I have learned to stay sober and have two and half years of sobriety. My last drink was July 29, 2015. This program saved my life and I say that, because, it allowed me the opportunity to take my mind off the booze and back into my writing. I started to share my sober journey on Instagram and Facebook under the pseudonym, Jon Lupin The Poetry Bandit, and through it have helped many people find sobriety, or at least get a taste of what’s in store for those who want it most.
What I am most proud of is the chronicle of that journey, “My Sober Little Moon.” It is a collection of poems I wrote when I was going through early sobriety and relapses in 2014, before I found the program. I examine the self, psyche, relationships and the soul in this book. It is now available on Amazon in the US, Canada, Europe, UK, India and Australia or signed copies through my Etsy site, world-wide, at www.etsy.com/shop/thepoetrybandit
So when people ask me, why I write, the answer is easy for me. My life is better for it and that is a beautiful thing to share. If there is anything I can pass on to those who want to know the answer for themselves, it is easy: healing. Writing is a form of healing and my new life is a perfect example of that.
– Jon Lupin, The Poetry Bandit ©
Aldergrove, B.C. Canada
He’s been ranked among the “Best Poets of Instagram” by Teen Vogue and “12 Instagram Poets Who Will Rekindle Your Love For Poems” by HuffingtonPost