Prolific Dacey publishes 12th book

Phil Dacey says he’s kind like a poetry factory, cranking out one poem after another.

Dacey, a retired Southwest Minnesota State University English professor, recently had his 12th book, “Gimme Five,” published by Blue Light Press of San Francisco, Calif. The book won the Blue Light Press 2012 Book Award.

Dacey said the name of the book derives from the fact that all of its poems consist of five stanzas of five lines each. The five line, five stanza form of poetry is something Dacey has used since 1967 to the present day. He said the “Fives” book of poetry that was published by David Pichaske’s Spoon River Poetry Press in 1984 represents only a small percentage of such poems.

“I felt it was time for a new collection, and a press in San Francisco agreed,” Dacey said.

It’s a challenge to write any form of poem, to “improve on the blank page,” as they say, Dacey said.

“One challenge with my ‘fives’ is to know when to employ the format and when not to,” Dacey said. “Once I know I’m using it, I have to say that doing so feels comfortable to me, but of course, that’s a challenge too, not to get too comfortable with it and settle for less.”

“Gimme Five” looks at a wide variety of subjects, Dacey said, politics and history, family, language and writing, death, love and his new and only grandchild.

“The book is dedicated to her (the grandchild), so the dedication poem about her is one that stands out for me,” Dacey said. “A poem about the NYC subway as my church might be another, and two about Juilliard, where I went frequently for student recitals and which was a short walk from my New York apartment.”

Dacey lived in Manhattan for eight years after he left SMSU and has recently moved back to Minnesota, residing now in Minneapolis.

“I had accomplished my various goals there (Manhattan), which included learning Manhattan from the inside as a resident, not just a tourist, and writing a book about the city, so the Midwest called me back,” Dacey said.

Dacey maintains what he calls the “Dacey Poetry Factory,” that he’s prolific to a fault.

“So at the moment I have four different book manuscripts of poetry out looking for homes at various publishers, including one that gathers together all of my poems about Walt Whitman,” he said.