What’s your name and where are you from?
I’m Danny Caine. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio but I live in Lawrence, Kansas now.
How long have you been writing? How did you start?
I started writing Continental Breakfast about six years ago. Before that I wrote some essays that I never did anything with, and before that I wrote truly awful poetry, so bad I’m surprised I kept going. I found a pile of those old poems last night. Yeesh.
Who are some of your influences?
The first smattering of writers that come to mind are Erika Meitner, Jennifer L. Knox, Patricia Lockwood, Ilya Kaminsky, Philip Metres, Hanif Abdurraqib, Morgan Parker, David Sedaris, Roddy Doyle, and Chris Bachelder. I also get inspired by photographers like Alec Soth, Nathaniel Grann, Phil Donohue, Brian Ulrich, and my collaborator Tara Wray, who made the beautiful image on the front of Continental Breakfast.
What is your book about?
Continental Breakfast is a guide to traveling, loving, eating, and worshipping in a late-capitalist American Midwest where brands have an outsize influence on the landscape.
Where did you get the idea?
I started out by writing about stuff I thought was funny: beer commercials, Passover candy, courtships between bag boys and cashiers. Eventually, the theme emerged on its own and clarified the poems I wrote towards the end of the process.
How long did it take you to finish it?
I started the book in November 2012 and it came out in March 2019, so a bit more than six years.
Is this your first book, or have you written more than one?
It’s my first book, though the third section (Uncle Harold’s Maxwell House Haggadah) came out as a chapbook in 2017. My next book, El Dorado Freddy’s, is a collaboration with Tara Wray that comes out in Spring 2020. I have two more manuscripts in different stages of completion/tinkering, one called Flavortown and one called Picture Window.
We all like to write about people we know, even if we never name them. Who are some people who inspired characters or situations?
It’s a secret! Just kidding. A lot of Continental Breakfast is inspired by my family, especially the final section which is an extended portrait of a Midwestern secularish Jewish family that seems suspiciously like my own.
What’s your favorite scene in the book?
I love all my poems so much! Just kidding, I definitely like some of them better than others. I never managed to publish the poem “Interstate Love Song” on its own, but it ended up being my closer on tour and lots of people have told me they like that one in particular. In a review of the book on Atticus Review, Maria C. Goodson even called the poem “the most romantic poem I’ve read in a while.” Take that, every journal that said no to this poem!
What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever got?
I’ve heard it a lot, but I must echo it: you must read a lot. Read so much. Read way more often than you write.
What’s the worst?
During undergrad we had an Old Guy Poet come visit who said you can’t write free verse until you’ve mastered traditional formal poetry. It’s not the worst advice, but I think a more welcoming way to say it would’ve been something like, “every poem has a form, even if it’s not a canonical traditional one,” or, “pay attention to the sound and rhythm of your poetry, regardless of what form it’s in”
Where can we buy your book?
My book is available from Mason Jar Press. Also, if you live in Kansas, Missouri, Cleveland, Brooklyn, Minneapolis, or Iowa you may live near an independent bookstore that stocks it. Please don’t buy it (or, if it’s up to me, any other books) from Amazon.
Danny Caine is the author of Continental Breakfast and El Dorado Freddy’s, a collaboration with Tara Wray. His poetry has appeared in Hobart, Barrelhouse, New Ohio Review, DIAGRAM, and other places. He’s the owner of Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas: more at dannycaine.com. You can also find him on Twitter at @mistercaine.