Patrick Rebel, the author of "I Don't Wanna Live Forever But I Don't Wanna Die" is 28-years old, born in Hartford, Connecticut, but raised in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Patrick has a Caribbean background, as for his family is from St. Thomas. After dropping out of high school, Patrick joined the army for a few years, and throughout his life, he found love and became engaged, married and divorced. Then later engaged again. He has been writing for most of his life, and with this book being his first published release, it takes readers through many different moments and experiences of the life he has lived so far.
Q: When it comes to your new book, the title is "I Don't Wanna Live Forever But I Don't Wanna Die" Can you discuss the meaning behind it?
A: I truly wanted everyone to have their own interpretation of what the title means. That is because it can mean something different for each person. For me personally, I had an event back in 2017 where I attempted to commit suicide and since that moment I've been very persistent with counseling sessions and taking care of my mental health not only as a gay male, but a black gay male, especially in this time. The phrase came up while I was having a session with my therapist and we were talking about what led me to that point. I just told her the way I felt, I don't want to live forever and I was scared of dying, but I'm good if I die at this point.
Q: Moving further into your book, can you discuss the poem, "Out", what was the experience while writing it and what did you want readers to take from this piece?
A: I wrote that poem when I was 17 but I took it back re wrote it over for the book. This was when I came out of the closet when I was in school, in a sense it was liberating but at the same time one of the hardest things that I had to go through just because I felt like I was coming out to different groups of people from family that could in a way disown me, friends that would support me, and the general public that would look at me in disgust. I had to build a defense mechanism for each group. While writing that, I got the inspiration from, "Still I Rise" By Maya Angelou. The way I wrote it, it mimics her innocent tone.
Q: What made you start writing and how long have you been writing for?
A: I've been writing since I was at least 13 just in school. I was in like a poetry club. I started out writing parodies from like different music. My idol...Weird Al Yankovic makes little parody videos, and I grew up like loving him and I have an uncle, who's a writer, a poet and he has published books so, I've always been inspired by him.
Q: Do you have any specific inspirations for your writing style?
A: A lot of my inspirations come from music. One of my musical inspirations is Kiana Lede. I like the way that she writes her music. She writes in a sense where it's very current, but then also her metaphors are very realistic and visual so I take after that. Another one of my favorite writers is Bibi Bourelly, she's written a couple of songs for Rihanna and I'm inspired by her edge and how she is unapologetic. I try to use that language just being as raw. Lastly, my poetic inspiration is Mirtha Michelle, and I'm inspired by her because I write very rhythmic like how a song is built, but she writes more sporadic and random. So it made me think that whatever I'm writing does not have to rhyme, whatever piece of work you are doing could be whatever your heart is saying at the time.
Q: When it comes to your other sample piece, "Save Me From The Sanctuary" you seem to be talking about a traumatic experience in your life. Would you like to talk about how it came about and what it was like writing this piece?
A: This poem was about a moment in my life where I was taken advantage of and I was in a vulnerable state of mind. Someone saw that as a weakness and did things to me that I never spoke to anyone about but my therapist and it kind of opened of that door to have that conversation with my family that had no idea.
Q: Would you say that writing the pieces for this book was sort of a coping mechanism for you to move past hard times in your life?
A: When it initially came to writing this book, I was really big on the number 28. So since I'm 28, I decided the book was going to have 28 poems. When I wrote the poems for this book, it made me relive the hard events once again but not as a victim but from the point of view of a survivor. Also, a lot of people that read the book has reached out to me and told me that they had no idea this was going on but they told me that they could relate to it and they felt everything I was saying. It just made me feel good because in a sense that's what I wanted.
Q: What are some of the lighter things that you touch on in the book?
A: I speak about lovers that I've had. Either if i'm in a good standing with them now, died to me emotionally or in a physical sense. Another big part of the book are my two poems, "Uncle Daddy I" and "Uncle Daddy II". "Uncle Daddy I" is dedicated to my uncle that passed away when I was 15. He was the only father figure that I ever had. "Uncle Daddy II" is dedicated to my nieces and nephews who I call my own children in a sense just because I look at them in that way. The book then ends with, "Funeral" which is my goodbye letter in a sense, going into the next phase of my life whether it be physically or not. But the book really touches on everything from life to death I'd like to say.
Q: What is the symbolism of your book cover?
A: Since the book was inspired by my attempt to commit suicide and when I came up with the title and told my family that I really want to do this book, my nephew who's 18 and a graphic designer, helped me visualize the cover. The cover is my hand trying to pull myself into the next phase of my life and the other hands symbolize things trying to pull me back whether it's insecurities, family, friends, and even enemies. Those could be the things holding you back, but if you are able to reach far enough you'll help yourself.