Joni Caggiano – Interview

by Manuela Timofte

"he touches me through lavender silk
bumble bees gather tiny dots of yellow
spirited hands touching warm, yielding flesh
a vivid sun puts on an eye patch, an attempt at veiling
us, as our desire heightens, pine and sage, breathing and smelling
my darling, there is a spot you have not yet found, and I am not telling"
Joni Caggiano - Luring nature

M. Since when do you write? What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? 

I started writing at the age of seven and submitting poems to magazines.  The most important thing my writing did for me was to help me deal with my crazy alcoholic parents and the utterly insane environment in which I grew up.  My way of coping was to write.  At that same time, I started composing songs.  I didn’t play an instrument, but I made up the tunes for my songs.  

Because of the songs I wrote, my parents took me to a place primarily full of men, people were drinking, and there was a band.  After a few minutes there, and my parents had a chance to have a couple of drinks, they pushed me forward and told me to get up there and sing with the men.  Completely caught off guard, I walked right up there like it was nothing.  They looked at me with big smiles and warm hearts and asked me what I would sing.  Looking down, I told them I had written a few songs.  When they asked for the music, I told them it was in my head. They told me to start singing, and they would “catch up to me.”  They made me feel extraordinary on that stage.  I wasn’t scared at all. I found out later that the men were all eventually in the Country Western Hall of Fame.

Not only did they catch up to me, but I was also on the radio, which I had no idea about until Monday at school.  A woman who worked there and had never even looked at me began telling me how great I sounded on the radio.  I felt a bit famous in the second grade.  My parents were very proud as well, which was the biggest award.

M. Do you consider yourself a compass or a map writer? 

I am more of a compass writer. I start in a specific direction but then I make my map as I go. I meet many people online as I travel along my path and so many have been a blessing in my life.  I also use my instincts which became highly defined due to my childhood.  My work is in no way something I thought out with specific objectives in mind. The longer I write the more I learn and I have been blessed with some great mentors along my travels. 

M. In your workday, how much time do you spend writing? 

I try to write for six hours a day except on Sundays, but I also bring a notebook with me when I’m not in front of my computer in case I feel inspired.  If I don’t like my work it doesn’t see the light of day, I am very self-critical regarding my writing. 

M. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

No. Will I ever? Who knows? I don’t write about the living when I write about my childhood.  

M. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? 

I try to be original but it would be a bit disingenuous if I didn’t say that I can be influenced by other poets that I admire.  Lately, I’ve been spending more time on Twitter than WordPress because I found I truly liked the writing of the #VSS365 writers.  My writing can be very wordy and so I am trying to learn to say more with fewer words. It has helped my writing. 

M. Tell us about your latest project. Are you working on a new one now? 

I am working on a new project that I am very excited about, but I am not at liberty to make it public yet.  It is keeping me very busy.  I will be in Literary Revelations new anthology, and I am very grateful.  I have also recently agreed to write a poem or one piece a month for MasticadoresUSA, and I am thankful to Barbara for asking me.  I write three monthly pieces for MasticadoresIndia, and I have learned much from Terveen.  I plan to write for her as long as she will have me.   All of this keeps me very busy.

M. What would you say is your hallmark as a writer? 

I use God and nature to describe both positive and negative things.  I think everything is connected.  So, when I think of a tree being cut down, I think of death, for example.  My writing is genuinely raw, which isn’t for everyone.  I won’t take that rawness out of my work for anyone.  It is part of who I am.  I don’t flower over the harsh things I write.  I started writing about my experience as an Adult Child of Alcoholics in the hope of reaching others, and I am grateful to say I have met many people that have grown up the same way I did.  

M. Do you think that accessing the reader who reads on a tablet, computer or mobile phone, in different spaces, (train, bus, metro) can help you be more read? 

Yes, absolutely.  I know many people that never go anywhere without their Kindle, for example, and I read many posts on my phone. When I lived in Seattle, I had a two-plus hour daily commute to downtown Seattle, and I worked on the bus. That meant not having to work when I got home.  If I am on the road, I always go into Masticadores with my phone to read the day’s posts rather than miss a day altogether. We live in a society that is unfortunately lost without their phones. Young people are almost so dependent on their devices that it makes them socially unavailable. I do think that this will create more agoraphobic individuals.

M. Do you think Masticadores’s bet in the search for that digital reader is correct? What’s your opinion about it? 

The future is making everything more accessible online.  This will continue to morph, but the changes will be electronic.  We can not be glued to work, at a job, if we can take out our phones on a break and check the latest post.  Access to our computers and phones gives us knowledge and the ability to read almost everything that has ever been written.  It is a blessing.

M. What has your participation as a writer in Masticadores given you? 

I started writing for MasticadoresUSA when Gabriela Marie Milton was the editor, and I felt very proud of my publications and gained confidence. Then when Terveen Gill, Editor for MasticadoresIndia, asked me if I would like to be a regular contributor, I was thrilled.  When you admire someone else’s work, which was true in both cases, these people become mentors to you.  Terveen encouraged me to write more short stories. I did not feel confident doing that at first, but she helped me by doing her job as editor and making minor changes to some of my stories to make them more dynamic.  Terveen should be writing movies for Netflix or television and directing them too.  She is very talented.  Terveen has truly helped me feel confident, and I look forward to the challenge every month of writing something new. Now that I have agreed to be a contributor to  MasticadoresUSA with their new editor, Barbara Leonhard, I also look forward to that contribution.  

I also appreciate the opportunity for this interview.  Thank you very much Manuela for your kindness.  

Twitter: @theinnerchild1 (

Instagram: @jonicaggiano (


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23 comentarios sobre “Joni Caggiano – Interview

  1. Excellent Interview Joni! The children of alcoholics (I was also one) have many things to say. Thank you for your contribution to Masticadores (Usa and India).
    And follow this Terveen rule (she has a good nose).:»Terveen encouraged me to write more short stories»
    Thank you Manuela Timofte for the interview.
    j re crivello

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    1. Thank you so very much j re crivello for your candid and very kind response. I am so sorry to hear that you were a child of alcoholics. I can honestly say to you as a surviver that somehow your great accomplishments mean even more to me now. For me and most ACOAs, it is difficult and a constant challenge not to repeat any of the behaviors you can be subjected to as a child. It takes a very strong and determined person to succeed. I am so glad that you became your own man and you have given birth to this amazing magazine which continues to grow. Creativity can be such an escape.
      Terveen does indeed have an amazing nose and is a great editor. I have tremendous respect for the editors I have worked with and I can not express how grateful I am to each of them. Terveen has really helped me to gain a lot more self-confidence about my writing and for that I will always see her as a tremendous mentor. Gabriela was an inspiration to me on Short Prose and on MasticadoresUSA and I will always be grateful for her as well. I look forward to working with Barbara and have my next publication coming out on 1/21/23
      I get wordy so I will stop my comment here but just know that I am in awe of your ability to choose such amazing people, and to have the kind of talent it takes to do so. I don’t mean just great writers but kind, compassionate and people dedicated to the art of writing.
      Ha, ha, I can’t stop myself 😂 Again, thank you very much for your kind comment and I appreciate Manuela Timofte for requesting this interview, another very gifted writer who is also a kind and gracious human being. So thank you sir and all the wonderful editors who have allowed me to be part of this amazing team you have gathered. Many blessings, Joni
      PS Just joking, no more comments, I promise


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  2. Fascinating and informative interview with an amazing talent. Joni is not only a brilliant writer, she’s a wonderful human being who displays compassion and encouragement for all. Thanks for publishing this interview. It’s always a delight to learn more about the people behind the words. 🙂

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    1. Dearest Mike, your extremely kind words have brought tears of thanksgiving to my eyes. I feel the same about you. Your words are so special to me, they seem to talk right to me at times. What a gift you have my friend. I am getting better about having faith in myself because of all the encouragement and kind words I get from others. Thank you Mike for sharing your gift with us and for I am very grateful to Manuela for asking me to do this interview. I was thrilled to have a chance to thank all the editors as I don’t know how any of them do it. They work so hard at a regular job, produce their own amazing writing and still managed a magazine. Thank you so much Mike for this! big hugs and love, Joni

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  3. It’s so wonderful to know more about you, Joni. I wish you had been able to explore your talent as a singer. You have a beautiful voice. But then, you may not have been the talented writer you are today. Life takes its turns and usually for the best. Thank you for being so courageous and down to earth. You are a true example of hope and resilience. Your words will always have a home at MasticadoresIndia. But I’d like to see them thrive on many platforms. It will happen. I appreciate the faith you have in me. May we all find our ways and progress together as a writer community. When honest and beautiful words bind, the outcome has to be outstanding. Keep writing and experimenting with newer forms. You possess the potential to do so much.
    Note to Netflix: We’re on our way. 🙂

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    1. Terveen you are too kind to me. Yes, I am grateful for the path I am on right now, look at all the kindness and encouragement I have received by so many. Thank you for the gracious words you have written about me as they mean more than you know. I do continue to work within this community as it is a gift. I will continue to write stories and experiment with new forms of writing. I am grateful that as an editor you have allowed that on MasticadoresIndia. Thank you for your faith in me Terveen. Note to Netflix: I am Terveen’s Executive Assistant. Sending lots of blessings and gratitude always, Joni

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  4. Oh thank you so much Barbara and I am glad that I shared some things that people did not know. Thank you for also being so very thoughtful and encouraging and I look forward to working with you! Bless you for that last sentence Barbara as again my heart is so truly touched. Big hugs and blessings coming your way!

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  5. Wonderful interview Joni and I loved your answers to the questions. Congratulations for being chosen and for being, personally, one of my favorite poets:) I agree with a comment above…you not only excel in what you do, but you encourage and inspire others. You are one of the most supportive people I have met…in any area:) Big hugs and blessings to you my sweet friend.

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    1. Hi Cassa what a kind comment my dear friend. I am so glad you read the interview here. Thank you for your thoughtful words Cassa, you and I have many things in common I believe in our philosophical thoughts on the way the world is and how much could be done to make it a better world with little effort from each individual. Big hugs and blessings right back at you, sending my love, Joni

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  6. Dearest Karima, Thank you so much for your reading this interview and for the kind things you have said about me. You are dear to me and extremely talented. I truly hope that you know how much your kindness always means to me. I am sending you my love, hugs and blessings always dear friend! ❤️

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  7. Wonderful interview, my friend! Your strength and courage are as plentiful as your talents for writing and music. The two arts seem to go hand-in-hand for many of us; I, too, am a musician as well as a writer which is why I try to include a video at the end of my stories. It was a joy to learn more about you, Joni, and to see your happy face (love your long hair!). Congratulations for all your many accomplishments; may they continue for years to come! 💫

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  8. My dear soul sister Joni. I am so incredibly proud of you. I love that you are using your gift from God to write, & sing on occasion when you share with us. I love that you are so humble, appreciative, kind, thoughtful, gracious & loving. You are a cherished friend to me & I am grateful to read your work & I always enjoy reading the comments, it brings me joy. I love you my friend!

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