The Interview with James D. Casey IV Page Two
AW: One might assume that the mud of Mississippi and rural Louisiana run thick in your mind and heart given the name of your publishing company. Do you spend much time on the gulf coast these days?
JDC: They do run thick, I’ve been up north for a few years now, but the south will forever be my home. I just went back to Mississippi for a week in January and it was 60/40 disaster/success due to crazy family shit. But it was still fun, pirates and jokers and vikings and preachers. We’re a wild bunch of characters.
AW: You consider yourself a southern poet, of course not a clean, neat, well-turned one like Sydney Lanier or even William Faulkner, but southern, all the same. How does this connection influence your writing?
JDC: I’m a different kind of southerner and a different kind of poet altogether. I consider myself an Outlaw Gonzo Poet that writes about raw and gritty things in a raw and gritty style. One of my biggest influences, Jim Morrison said it best:
“Listen, real poetry doesn’t say anything; it just ticks off the possibilities. Opens all doors. You can walk through any one that suits you.”
AW: I read some of your poems. Those I have read are edgy. How do you see your poems? Your style?
JDC: My poems are a flashlight into experience and existence, be it mine or yours or otherwise, that I write in my own words. They do tend to lean toward a darker side, but I try to write about a wide variety of things. As for style I just write how I feel, never follow the “rules” and reinvent myself often. Then there’s my alter ego, Madman Philosopher. He comes out when I drink. I wake up in the morning sometimes with 15 or 20 drunken poems to go through and edit. A lot of them are turds, but there’s always three or four I can polish up or combine to make a decent piece.
AW: I notice a common thread in a lot of your poems. In one way or another, the narrator is searching. Do you think that reflects a quest for yourself? Or am I reading too much into the tea leaves? If so, what is your quest?
JDC: Aren’t we all searching for something? The main quest being the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.”
by Anthony Watkins
AW: At what point did you move from being a poet to a publisher? Or did you come to poetry through publishing?
JDC: I initially started Cajun Mutt Press to publish my own books, then other poets started to inquire, so I decided to venture into the small press scene. Publishing books for other people and having featured writer spots every week. I love what I do.
AW: Cajun Mutt Press seems to publish a rather broad spectrum of styles and voices. Do you identify anything specific that defines a “Cajun Mutt Poet”? Or are you going for a more eclectic collection of simply good poets?
JDC: Good writing is simply good writing, and Cajun Mutt Press is also the go-to place for anyone that feels they carry the outlaw/outsider title. We’re a home for all things on the literary fringe.
AW: Most importantly, because I never know what is really core to the interviewee, I always ask that you feel free to both ignore any question you don’t think is appropriate/don’t want to answer, and most of all, answer the question I failed to ask. The “what makes you tick?” sort of question.
JDC: What makes me tick is that poetry is extremely important to me. It’s my own form of therapy. I feel that if I didn’t write my head would explode leaving unwritten words sliding down the wall. I also thoroughly enjoy publishing other writers. To help get people’s words out into the world makes me feel as though I’m accomplishing something. I believe the work that I’m doing is important, and I’m building Cajun Mutt Press to last. I want C.M.P. to still be around in 20 or 30 years, hopefully even longer.
AW: Thank you for your time, James.
Archive of Interviews & Interviewee Poems: