James Cagney was born in Oakland, Ca. He was named after his father, a retired forklift mechanic. His mother, Juanita, worked as a beautician and teaching supervisor at several local beauty schools. Raised an only child, James was 19 before being told he was adopted. In his biological family, he was youngest of six. James' father was diagnosed with an asbestos related cancer the year he attempted to leave home for University. After his father's death, he supported his mother and grandfather until their deaths. In those intervening years, James studied writing and poetry independently, via the public library, workshops and the abundant open mic scene in the Bay Area.
James Cagney is a Cave Canem fellow. He has authored five self-produced chapbooks including Dirty Thunderstorm (Dirty Rat Press, 2013), Transmitting The Disease of Poetry, Hot Death, On The Road To Heaven in A Broken Down Truck, (Burning Bush Publications, 1999) and Greatest Hits. As a featured poet, James has performed in many venues, museums and programs throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as Sacramento, Vancouver, Chicago, and Seattle. He appeared as a featured artist in Miko Kuro's Midnight Tea: Midnight in Mumbai (Blurb, 2012) and Celebration of The Word with Maya Angelou (2001). Visit his blog at thedirtyrat.blog