Poet Interview #71: James Dennis Casey IV

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Who/what first inspired you to begin? Who are some of your favorite writers and artists (past and/or contemporary)?
I come from a family of bootleggers, self proclaimed pirates, and peace & love era hippies. My late grandmother’s great-uncle, A.F. Ray, actually founded Garden City, Colorado, with moonshine money. I know that has nothing to do with poetry, but it’s just a fun fact to offer some insight into the type of family I grew up in. We’re all a bunch of outlaw good ol’ boys and wild free spirits.
My mother was always encouraging me to develop my artistic talent. I started writing and drawing at a young age. The first thing I can remember writing is a Halloween short story for a class contest in elementary school that I won first place for. I started to get more serious about poetry in my teens. Listening to artists like Tom Waits, The Doors, Leonard Cohen, and Nick Cave in high school had a lot to do with it.
I’ve always been a pretty avid reader too, and a lover of art. My favorite writers are Charles Bukowski, Jim Morrison, Hunter S. Thompson, Stephen King, and Jonathan Shaw. My favorite artists are Gerald Brom, Luis Royo, H.R. Giger, Zdzislaw Bekinski, and Fab Ciraolo.
How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day to fall into a rhythm?
My writing method varies depending on my mood. Sometimes I’ll wake up early, make a pot of coffee, and have a mellow day typing out a few words while smoking a few cigarettes in between. Other days I’ll wake up well after noon, crack a bottle of liquor, and violently slap at the keys while chain smoking. I must admit that some of my best work comes from the latter method. I believe it was Hemingway that said “Write drunk; edit sober.” Having a muse is a big help as well, and I do have one that I love very much, but sometimes I find it hard to write if I get too happy. So writers block can be a bit of a problem for me at times. It just doesn’t flow the same, and I’m not a fan of monorhyming cushy love poems. I like to just let the words flow when they want to flow and don’t force the issue. It’s quality not quantity that counts.
What does poetry mean to you, and has your idea of what it represents changed over the course of time? Where do you see it going in the future?
Poetry is my passion. It helps me cope…it’s like a release. Poetry is the purest form of human language distilled down to speak volumes with only a few words. I truly enjoy when people tell me that they like my work, but in reality I don’t do it for them. I do it for me, and that will never change. A lot of people say “poetry is dead,” but it will forever live in my heart, and as long as I’m able to write it will live on. So for the future of poetry hopefully the poets out there with the same passion toward it that I have can keep the ball rolling. We may not be held as high in the social status as the days of old, but we’re still here.
Are you on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
Social media is a helpful tool for self promotion in the literary world, and I have profiles on just about any one you can name. Yet, I’ve found it can deface the value of true poets sometimes as well. Everybody’s a “poet” nowadays it seems, and some great voices can get drowned out and lost in all the white noise. That’s the reason I’m not a fan of this new meme poetry trend that I’ve seen all around the internet. Taking a pretty picture found online and slapping a few words on it just isn’t poetry to me, but I’ve found that to be what’s popular lately. To each their own, I guess.
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? What are you reading right now?
I’m in a handful of poetry communities on Facebook that I share my work with, and I have a poetry blog called Skeleton Poetry by: J.D.C.IV. I also have profiles on websites for writers like Hello Poetry and WordPress, but I haven’t had a chance to connect with any writers in the real world. I don’t do well in crowds, and I’m kind of shy in person, so as much as I’d like to I’ve never been a part of any type of group or event setting. Maybe one day I’ll break out my shell.
Currently I’m reading Jonathan Shaw’s latest book, “NARCISA: OUR LADY OF ASHES,” and I highly recommend picking up a copy.
As 2017 continues rolling along, what are your expectations for the rest of the year? Do you have any new projects in the works that you’re particularly excited about?
I don’t have anything currently in the works as of yet, but I just self published a third volume of my poetry on June 4th that I’m pretty excited about. It’s titled “Tin Foil Hats & Hadacol Coins” and it’s the book that I’m most proud of to date. It’s 102 pages and features 57 of my poems, and a wrap around cover with my original artwork, “Love’s Flames,” on front and back. It’s a beautiful book. I’m extremely pleased with the way it came out. Now it’s time to start drumming up ideas for the next one. I have a few things in mind.
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
My words of encouragement would be to just keep going because perseverance is key. Dreams can be willed into fruition through perseverance, and one dream can change the world. Even when you feel like giving up because it seems like no one cares about your work–don’t. Writers write, it’s what we do, but do it for yourself and not others. That’s when it’s the most fulfilling.

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Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site 17Numa.wordpress.com where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, and books can be found. He is a Best of the Net and three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Scott's poetry books include: Songs of a Dissident (Transcendent Zero Press, 2015), Chaos Songs (Weasel Press, 2016), Happy Hour Hallelujah (CTU Publishing, 2016), and Poison in Paradise (Alien Buddha Press, 2017). Scott is a member of The Southern Collective Experience; he also serves as an editor for Walking Is Still Honest Press, The Blue Mountain Review, The Peregrine Muse, and Novelmasters.

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