30 Jan 2018

Interview | Damon Steine

I feel so lucky to have been exposed to the arts at such a young age. I studied the piano from the ages of 11-16 (the feel of the keys beneath my hands still feel like an old friend, comforting and familiar, even if I haven't played in ages); I performed interpretative dances whilst my mother sang at events and I sang ( I was an alto) with the school choir at middle school. Come college though, I turned into the archetypal sulky teenage outcast (of my own doing might I add) but that also meant that the people I surrounded myself with were of the deeper, more introspective sort - the tormented souls, the dreamers, the thinkers, the poets, the painters, the activists - those seeking a more utopian alternative to our dreary, dusty little town in the south of the Philippines.

Damon, or Jase as he is known to those close to him, was and still is, one of them. A writer, quiet and at times broody; we shared a deep appreciation for Jewel, ice cold beer, sunsets and the written word. We actually became close because of Jewel - my then 18th month old son drew all over the pages of Jewel's book, A Night without Armour, which Jase has so kindly lent to me. I will never forget what he told me that day as I returned the book and steeled myself for rebuke. He laughed after I explained what had happened and he said, "Your son has made his mark on my book, and I now will cherish this even more."

That was almost 18 years ago. Now a published author and poet, Jase moonlights as a literary consultant by day, and writes tirelessly by night. He is now working on a book, working title to be revealed very soon. He also runs a blog, aptly named Hunting for Metaphors. We still share the same love for beers and sunsets, music and books, vinyl and film photography.

Jase has stayed true to his passion and I believe he will until his last breath and for that he will stay an inspiration for me until I draw mine.

1. Place of birth
Damon - I was born in Bulacan, lived my life mostly in Zamboanga City, except for a few years in Iligan City.

2. Most inspiring travel destination?
Damon - Cebu for debauchery unlike any other driven by a failed relationship, and Iligan where I spent the best 3 years working for the government.

3. Top 5 things on your bucket list
Damon - 1) Visit Seattle because of Grunge
2) Visit the Stein salon at 27 Rue de Fleurus
3) Read Neruda's Obras Completas from cover to cover
4) Get to know my son
5) To put out a body of work that would almost sum up the poet that I wanted to be

4. What is your greatest extravagance?
Damon - Hmm, that would be my perception and experience of Mother Time, I have to say.

5. Name one book that has made the biggest on your life thus far
Damon - More like 10, collected into 1 as the Sandman Library by Neil Gaiman. It was my bible growing up.

6. What made you delve into writing and how long have you been a writer?
Damon - As a boy, one of my mothers distracted me from our walk to home by reciting lines from poetry that I devoured, memorized and read out loud. And that was the spark that ignited my desire to compose my own, though it would take a few years after that before I would attempt the art of letting my pen make love to clean, white paper.

7. Favourite place to write?
Damon - By the shore, or the thrill of doing it in the most untimely of places.

8. Biggest regret?
Damon - Not one, and there never will be.

9. Colour or B&W?
Damon - I like colours, but I am definitely a sucker for the dance of light and shade.

10. Introvert or extrovert?
Damon - Introvert and proud.

11. Early bird or night owl?
Damon - My day begins after midnight and there is something oddly comforting listening to the world sleep.

12. Name 3 songs that would sum up your 2017
Damon - Judith, Passive and 3 Libras - all from A Perfect Circle.

13. Name 3 books that you can read over and over again
Damon - Sandman Library by Neil Gaiman, Neruda's Extravagaria and a short piece that I wrote but I am not telling which one.

14. What was one insecurity you had about yourself and what did you do to overcome it?
Damon - Still is. And that is my writing and my worth to claim myself as a writer. And it is still a work in progress.

15. Describe yourself in one word
Damon - Driven.

16. What makes you happy?
Damon - These days, I really do not know. But I am trying to figure that one out.

17. Name 3 (people, things, era, music) that have inspired you
Damon - When something is born, followed by the poetry happening in between and the fate of all things.

All photos and poetry by Damon Steine

Follow him
Facebook - Damon Steine
Instagram -  @damonsteine
Wordpress - Hunting for Metaphors


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