5 Burning Questions with Danny Caine

Danny Caine is one of our featured writers at our May 14th reading. Check out our interview with him below.

What is your first memory of writing for fun?

I was applying to college. The essay prompt that year was horrible and vague and I was totally stuck: “Write about an issue of global, national, or local significance and its importance to you.” I was 100% sure they probably didn’t want another essay about the legalization of marijuana or some bullshit like that, and I absolutely didn’t want to write that. In a moment of panicked desperation, I wrote about writer’s block as my issue of local importance, and by giving myself permission to be a meta smartass, I had fun writing something for the first time. I also got into college!

How many drafts = done?

Some poems are done almost right away, some poems take years. Some poems in the book are showing me that they still want some changes, though I’m resisting that. So it really depends on the poem, but I’d say the average is 3 or 4.

What is your favorite book or favorite book-of-the-moment?

The most recent book to knock me over was Amy Hempel’s new collection Sing to It. It’s revolutionary. She’s running laps around everyone. I could say the same thing about Colson Whitehead, too. I was lucky enough to read his new book The Nickel Boys in advance, and if there’s any justice, they’ll be teaching this thing in schools soon.

What is it about your discipline that gets you the most excited?

I’ve been thinking a lot about poetry’s ability to question. You don’t need an answer to write a poem. To me it feels like the discipline that’s most suited to searching, to sorting out your feelings, to questioning. It’s liberating to be able to write through something without having figured it out first—to write through something as a way of figuring it out. Or not.

What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?

This is super corny but I’m going to say the combination of “Continental Breakfast.” I know, I know, it’s the title of my book. Still, I named my book that primarily because I love the phrase. What a slalom of consonants it is, with hard sounds around every corner and a pleasing meter. I knew the book would be called Continental Breakfast before I wrote the poem “Continental Breakfast”—I wrote that piece so I’d be allowed to use the title for the book. Plus, the words instantly bring to mind a host of images, tastes, and smells, none of which are particularly amazing but they’re distinctly of-a-place. You’ve probably had a continental breakfast. You’ve probably been a bit disappointed in it, hungry a short 50 miles later. I love that.

Bonus question: What kind of fruit best describes your least favorite celebrity or relative?

I won’t say who it is, but they’re definitely unripened honeydew in a fruit cocktail. The kind that’s so unripe it kind of crunches.


Danny Caine is the author of the poetry collections Continental Breakfast (Mason Jar Press 2019, originally appearing in Hobart) and El Dorado Freddy’s (collaboration with Tara Wray, Belt Publishing 2020). His poetry has appeared in Hobart, Barrelhouse, New Ohio Review, DIAGRAM, and other places. He hails from Cleveland and lives in Lawrence, Kansas where he owns the Raven Book Store.

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