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.

Unexpected Terrain

Three poems
by JD DeHart
 
Cartography
 
Whenever someone tells him they
are going to have him latitude on
some issue, his mind always travels
to maps.
 
Roads and rivers like blood vessels,
many pages to fold, he remembers his
uncle planning a trip with pens
and highlighters.
 
Of course, the map is never an exact
duplicate or representation of the world
it arrived from. There are always issues.
 
One day, he mapped his own future
on the many pages of what his family gave
him, but terrain still surprises him –
formations look more imposing in real life.
 
Electric
 
In an electric night, we
could see the atmosphere playing
games with the scampering
creatures, hide and seek,
ethereal tag
 
A moon hung low with its
illumination on a dun desert canvas
as lightning, incongruous, gathered
alongside
 
A coyote explains the situation
to a rabbit, saying that the world
might be coming to an end or
rebirth.
 
Spending Time with Words
 
I could write
a song that would divide the world,
or no I couldn’t
 
My words do not have
the weight of a thousand angels
or a cliff’s mooring
 
But I can offer an adjective
or two so that a way can be
cleared a bit, a pebble moved,
a bit of small truth to share.
 
—————–
JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His work has recently appeared at Cacti Fur and Dime Show Review. DeHart blogs at jddehartfeaturepoems.blogspot.com.

Poet Interview #70: JD DeHart

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 am a writer and a teacher.  I started writing when I was a teenager, really when I was a child.  I used to make my own comic books in notebooks.  I think what inspired me to start writing was that I have always been a reader.  Some of my favorite writers (right now) are Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, and Billy Collins.  I also enjoy the writing I find around the web.
 
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 and let the words just … flow? 
 
It depends.  Sometimes I write down an interesting combination of words that sound attractive to me.  I journal a lot about ideas, but I usually compose on the computer.  I like to see the formatting as I go.  I will go a month or two without writing, and then hit a creative surge.
 
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, to me, is the distillation of experience in words.  It’s all about life and interpretation.  My definition has changed as I have read and considered more.  I see poetry growing as people enjoy it in online spaces.  
 
Are you on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
 
I used to try to maintain writer presences on socia media, and I find that I don’t have the time to anymore.  I have other things to work on, unfortunately.  I do blog every now and then, but that is also sporadic.
 
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?
 
I don’t have a community of writers, necessarily, but right now I am reading some Neil Gaiman.  I just finished his book about mythology.
 
As 2017 continues rolling along, what are your expectations for the year ahead? Do you have any new projects in the works  that you’re particularly excited about?
 
I find that I am writing more selectively with poems now, returning to what I have written over the past few years.  I’m not going on flurries of creating new things as much as trying to find venues to feature some of the poems I like best.

Conspiring Visions

Two poems
by Dime Maziba
 
THE FALLING OF NIGHT
 
Night falls under
The streams of eyeballs
To trench flayed sky
Like a wild ghost of oceans
 
Like conspiring visions,
Anger of charred famine
Will die of scattered politician’s courage
With sorrel leaves of sahara
 
If only cedar beds could
Stumble on baying fire
And spurts bouquets of sun
We could wipe our salty tears
With handcuff of hope
 
I thought an amulet of beams
To breathe the spreading
Perfume of my people liberation
Monsieur priest,
Will this loaded strings
Of plastic beads
Glide my sun-clouding continent?
 
Exit or Exile?
 
After their lullaby
of electoral campaign
Liberation songs
will prevail the psalms.
 
The effigy of the dictator,
Wiping the toilet seats of poor people.
 
Why politicians do not
Differentiate exit and exile?
Do their spellings matter?
 
When it’s Arab Spring in Maghreb,
It is western winter in Panama.
Bank, frozen and Santa
becomes bogeyman.
All the toys will be under
The dazzling sun
 
Thank you dear God,
At least, the homeless in the West
Will find a roof.
 
—————–
Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Dime Maziba is a Pan-Africanist oratory,a poet, writer and activist. He is the author of FLAMES OF REVOLUTION, a forthcoming book which will be released soon.

Poet Interview #69: Dime Maziba

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

You know…my Grand-mother used to say: ’asking an African man to talk about himself he will speak for hours’’. Let me quickly say that my name is Dime Maziba. I’m a Congolese poet, author, pan -Africanist oratory and political activist. I’m also a Financial Accounting student from Durban university of technology (DUT) in South Africa where I’m currently based. I’m taking part in many organizations which strike for youth empowerment and gender equity.

At what age did you start writing? 

I started writing at the age of 14 during my boarding school days.

Who/what first inspired you to begin?

It’s hard to talk about it without sounding pretentious but my work is inspired by injustice. If I see or hear something that affects me or anyone else, I have to put pen to paper. I’m from Democratic Republic of Congo, a country which is experiencing one of the biggest genocide in the history of mankind with more than 10 million people killed and raped women over the 20 past years. And this war is supported financially by western powers in order to steal mineral resources and manufacture all the gadgets people use. So I think it’s a heavy untold story which I can’t carry alone.

Who are some of your favorite writers and artists (past and/or contemporary)?

I think I’m more attracted by revolutionary writers and artists. Those who refused to sell their dignity for some recognition. In that perspective, I can spend the all day reading and listening to all the Harlem Renaissance writers, Bob Marley, Amiri Baraka, Aime Cesaire, Frantz fanon…

My favourite contemporary writers list includes names like Mutabaruka, Eugene skeef, Menzi Maseko, Matamba lukasu, Alain tito Mabiala, Luvuyo Plum…

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 and let the words just … flow?

I don’t always know, particularly at the time. I just feel like an intense and passionate interest in something or someone, and a desire to build a poem. But usually in order to push my work I prefer writing during the night as I have a lovely little study – a snug, more like, where most of my books are in shelves lining the walls and I have a desk and an ergonomic chair, a filing cabinet. I also love to write in coffee shops. I find the soft music and the aroma of good coffee particularly conducive. Having said that, though, I can write anywhere and often do – at the tram-stop, on the bus, in a queue. if I get an idea, I have to write it down.

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?

As far as I’m concerned, Poetry has been very therapeutic to me. It has helped me to deal with anger, frustration, heartbreak, headache, hopelessness, isolation, depression, and more. Actually, it has helped me be human. I think, if all the governments all over the world implement more poetry training or programs, we will end up having a society where there will be no more racism, imperialism, xenophobia and all those similar hatreds.

Are you on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?

The only social media I’m using so far is Facebook where people can find me under my name ‘’Dime Maziba’’. Time is always there; I think it’s all about priority because there should come a time when you need to log out of your account and do something else.

Can you talk a bit about your forthcoming book, Flames of Revolution? Is there a theme to the collection?

Flames of Revolution is a poetry compilation that covers poems from a wide range of themes as it addresses such topics as politics, colonialism, nature, xenophobia and war in Africa, religion, and racism. Each piece stands alone coming alive with deep emotions portrayed in a poetical manner that is easy to relate to. This book is also for anyone who loves deeply, has bad days and searches for happiness in the world around him. It’s also for those who have been hurt, have scars to prove they still exist alive. Poems range also from romance to issues such as stigma, women abuse and marginalization.

Who is your publisher, and when do you expect the book to be released?

I’m published by Classic Age Publishing Company and the book will officially be released in mid-July. Anyone who is willing to pre-order a copy can write to info@ClassicAgePublishing.co.za.

What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?

Writing is a skill which can be developed over the years. Do not be discouraged by criticism. Remember that many successful writers were once rejected by publishing houses

Langston Hughes once said: “I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go.”