Play and Poems: My Interview with Troy Cady

Our first interview with poet and founder of PlayFull, Troy Cady.

Man in sweater holding book entitled "Featherdusting the Moon"

Troy Cady with his recent book of poetry, Featherdusting the Moon

J. P. DeNeui

Troy Cady is the author of PlayFull: Play as a Pathway to Personal & Relational Vitality and the recently released book of poetry Featherdusting the Moon: 100 Poems. He is the founder of PlayFull, a nonprofit whose mission is to help people “play from the inside out,” and serves as the Director of Teaching and Training at Grace Covenant Church in Chicago. Troy has lived in Chicago with his wife Heather and two children since 2010. Prior to that, they lived in various places in Europe for twelve years starting new churches.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Troy over Zoom, and in this first part of our conversation, I asked him about his just-released book.

JPD: You have a new book of poetry. What is it about?

It’s called Featherdusting the Moon, and there are poems in it on a wide variety of subjects like community, nature, aging, identity, parenting, intimacy, atonement, and inner healing.

One poem was inspired by what little I know about quantum physics while another was inspired by the 9/11 tragedy. 

The title of the book comes from a line in one of the poems that I wrote about the death of Nelson Mandela. At the time I learned of his passing, I was in traffic that was just inching along on the highway because of a terrible accident that had just occurred. One line in the poem likens the futility of trying to pick up all the pieces from the accident to “feather dusting the moon.”

I began to wonder about the process of recovery when someone who is significant to us dies (whether the person is famous or not). Sometimes grief feels like feather dusting the moon, a process we will never be able to complete. 

JPD: Is this your first published book?

No, I have another book called PlayFull. It’s all about tapping into play as a resource for personal, relational, and even organizational vitality. In that book, I describe the nature and value of play, applying it to our everyday lives. I published PlayFull in November of ’19 and then Featherdusting the Moon came out in November of ’20.

JPD: Quite the genre switch.

(laughs) Yes, yes, yes, it is. PlayFull is based on about seven or eight years of research into the concept of play. As an ordained minister, I am particularly interested in the integration of play with faith and Christian theology. So, yes, you’re right: they’re two very different books.

Troy’s pile of resources when he’s writing on the topics of play, dreaming, and faith.

JPD: Who would you say this book is written for?

Both books are really for people who are open to exploring faith, whether you consider yourself a Christian or not. I try to write in a way that is accessible to folks who are disenfranchised by organized religion but are still interested in cultivating their spiritual life.

In Featherdusting, I’ve written many poems for people who just need a bit of a breather in life. They may just need to slow down, to regain a sense of grace and comfort and quiet. My prayer is that many of these poems will facilitate that.

JPD: Do you have any book release parties or anything like that planned for this one?

I don’t, but I have thought of hosting an evening of poetry-reading and a “conversation with the author” sort of thing.  That may be online or it may be in-person. I’m still not sure yet.  At any rate, at this point I don’t know when that’s going to happen! You can tell I’m not super organized about promoting my book. (laughs) 

JPD: Do you have any upcoming projects?

Yes, I do. There’s at least three possibilities. One would be to publish a second volume of poems because I’m still writing new pieces and have some other pieces that didn’t make it into Featherdusting. The second would be a book of prayers that I think will also be a book about prayer, containing some short meditations on prayer. A third would be a book around the idea of what it looks like for communities of faith to be infused with the reality that we are all “the Beloved of God.” There are four key messages and five simple, life-giving rhythms I’d like to commend to the readers of that book. That said, I’m still not sure what I will publish next. I’m still trying to discern that.

JPD: For aspiring poets and writers out there, do you have any advice?

Keep writing. Try and write every day, even if it’s just a little bit. 

There’s also a book I recommend called If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. If you’re looking for encouragement to keep going, that’s one of the best books you can read. 

I mention that book because Brenda Ueland recommends a practice called “moodling” in it. Ueland describes “moodling” as time that is seemingly wasteful or idle, but it is absolutely critical for cultivating inspiration…because, she says, the imagination works slowly and quietly.  When you “moodle” you can approach your writing each day free from the notion that you MUST produce something useful or worthy of publication. That can be a very freeing feeling.  Just make peace with the fact that you can just write for fun, for the enjoyment of it, and just because it’s good. Settle it in your mind and heart that not everything you write has to be “great” or “productive.” Just keep writing and do the best you can to silence your inner critic and don’t worry about the quality so much.

That’s how Featherdusting came about. My audience isn’t very large; I’m just putting my stuff out either on my blog or on Facebook. Compared to other writers, I’m a nobody. But I did have a couple of faithful friends who would share my poems with others…and that was so encouraging. One of them is someone I’ve never met, actually. We’re just “Facebook friends.” He happens to be a poet himself, and he’s the kind of person who is a champion of writers like me who are just amateurs. He just started sharing my poems on his Twitter feed. He also has a thing called “Saturday Good Reads.” Every Saturday he creates a digest of pieces he read the previous week which  he recommends to his readers…and a few times I made his Saturday Good Reads list! That felt so good! 

So, I just kept writing. Again, it was all for free; I wasn’t making any money at it. But the fact that other people would share my works with others was encouragement enough for me. So, I’ve gone through seasons where I would write every day, and I’ve had seasons where the writing was more like two or three times a week. Either way, I just tried to keep those fires alive.

That would be my advice: Just keep writing and do it for the enjoyment of it.
To learn more about PlayFull, visit www.playfull.org. To stay abreast of ways you can participate in PlayFull’s ministry, follow PlayFull on Facebook at https://facebook.com/playfull.org. To read some more of Troy’s writings, visit his blog at http://troymarbles.blogspot.com. To reach Troy, you can email him at troy@playfull.org


Read more featured artist interviews in our First Quarterly Issue: Expectation, and Second Quarterly Issue: Dreams.

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Joseph Paul “JP” DeNeui (he/him) is a basketball-loving missionary kid from Thailand transplanted to Chicago, Illinois, where he shivers through winters and writes fantasy and sci-fi. He is the author of the fantasy novel Shadow of Wings.

You can follow Joseph on Facebook, Twitter, his website, or LinkedIn to see what’s going on in the world of fantasy writing, fiction, and general fun. Or, if you happen to love a good epic fantasy novel, check out his book in paperback or Ebook.

Email him at: josephdeneui@mockingowlroost.com

7 thoughts on “Play and Poems: My Interview with Troy Cady

  1. JP that was a wonderful interview. I would like to thank Mr. Cady for suggesting various tools to use when writing poetry. He gave me hope, and quite a bit of inspiration. Thank you for your thoughtful questions. I hope he does do a virtual reading of his book.

    1. That’s wonderful, Sue, that he could be so helpful for you through his suggestions! He’s a wonderful pastor and friend. There’s another interview with him coming out in June, as well. Perhaps you’ll enjoy reading that and learning even more then. <3

    2. Sue, forgive my tardiness in replying. I am so delighted to hear that you found this article helpful. I’ll be sure to let you know when I do a virtual reading. Your comment is giving me inspiration to actually book it, by the way! So, thanks for that nudge… 🙂

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