Category Archives: #amreading

Lots of Stuff about Writing Besides Actually Writing

Eilene Lyon of Myricopia has written a beautiful review of my chapbook Kin Types. She writes on her blog about her family history (among other things), and is finishing up a book  about it as well. About my chap:

This slender volume is saturated with spirits brought to life by Luanne Castle’s soulful words in prose and poetry. It’s a collection I will read again and again, as it inspires a hope that some of her magic will rub off on my attempts to reinvigorate my ancestors’ stories. The writing is not just creative and lyrical, but draws on deep research and compassion.

Though there are instances of tragedy and death—universal human events—not all is gloomy within these pages. I love how “Half-Naked Woman Found Dead” conjures the purple prose of 19th-century journalism, and despite the dire subject, makes me laugh out loud with the final line. In “Genealogy” she takes a simple subject, the name Frank, and in a few words imparts both a legacy passed down and a deeper meaning tied to the name itself.

The details Castle creates to evoke time, place, and experience, continually astonish me. The veil clouding the past is pierced and we step into the shoes of her long-gone loved ones.

Coincidentally, two of the Kin Types poems were just reprinted by Verse-Virtual in the May issue. You can find them here:

2 Verse-Virtual poems

Check out the other poems in this issue, as well. Some lovely work.

You know that first poem, “Genealogy”? As you can see it’s about the name Frank and looks at another meaning of the name. So when I first heard about the great Diane Seuss’ phenomenal book Frank: Sonnets I knew the ambiguity inherent in that one-word title and was intrigued. In fact, her collection is a frank exploration of her life in poems, as well as inspired by but completely different from the work of poet Frank O’Hara. If you read one poetry book by a “great” this year, make it Seuss’.  The book has just taken these awards:

Winner of the 2022 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry Collection
Winner of the 2021 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry
Winner of the 2021 L.A. Times Book Prize for Poetry
Finalist for the 2022 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award

Pretty darn amazing, but you will see why the book earned them.

On another note, I have a bundle of yummy looking poetry books to read by Merril D. Smith, Justin Hamm, Caroline Goodwin, Millicent Accardi, KB, and John Sibley Williams. Woohoo!!!!

And, finally, I am tinkering with the memoir. Is a writer’s work ever done? Kind of like being a woman (if you remember the expression).

Finally, on a completely unrelated topic, I found out there is a haunted hotel in Phoenix, Hotel San Carlos. That’s right. You can read about its checkered history here.

Make it a good week!

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Angels on My Ears

We had a really lovely poetry reading on Saturday. Liz is working on a recording for us of the event, which we will be able to share. I can’t tell you how much extraordinary effort she put into both the organization and the hosting. She’s quite the dynamo!

Remember all that went into the event when you read her wonderful books because you will see all the effort and talent in her writing as well.

POETRY

GRIEF SONGS

NOVEL

TELLING SONNY

All the readers were so engaging and professional, with very special poems to share.

Then yesterday, I read a poem called “The Purpose of Earth” for Moonstone Arts Center in Philadelphia. They are celebrating Earth Day with an anthology, and the poets who wrote the collected poems read them at the event. “The Purpose of Earth” will also be in my new collection, Rooted and Winged. Presales will be next month.

These are the amazing etsy earrings I wore to Saturday’s reading in honor of “wingedness.” Haha, I know. My daughter called them “extra,” but then said to “definitely wear them.”  Somehow they do feel right.

Going to close comments on this post because I want to spend my blog time this week reading other blogs. Make it a great week! It’s our last week of poetry month!

 

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In the World Again

After I got home from the Master Workshop at the Tucson Festival of Books I was exhausted. What in the world. Maybe the pandemic, by making us homebound for so long, has done this because the gardener was exhausted, too, and he didn’t even go to the sessions. But he did drive around a lot. While I was at the workshop, he went on household errands!

The sessions were fabulous, and the nonfiction workshop was a real treat. We had a stellar group of writers.

One of my favorite parts of the time was the poetry session by Felicia Zamora about hybridities. I’m so inspired to try some new and more experimental forms of poetry.

I woke up with a complicated migraine on Friday which might have been triggered from the lights in the conference rooms and/or the dehydration I experienced in Tucson. For some reason it feels much drier there than in Phoenix. This is the exact reason I can’t drive long distances and had to ask the gardener to take me to the workshop. I can’t risk having one of these monsters when I have to drive a long distance.

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Have you heard that you can help individual Ukrainians by purchasing goods through their Etsy shops? This way they can get some $ coming in whether they are still  in Ukraine or are refugees elsewhere. Some of them can still ship regular goods, but most are selling digital items. Lots of graphics and artwork, especially about Ukraine and #standwithukraine. The items are not expensive. There is a Facebook group devoted to this subject, and you can also communicate on there with Ukrainians (almost all women, though not entirely) and hear their stories and give them verbal support. They are so grateful even when you buy a $2 item. Many of them are giving some or all of the money to their army.

UKRAINIAN ETSY SHOP OWNERS

If you don’t have Facebook you can search Etsy for Ukrainian shops.

I’m not saying this is the only way to help Ukraine, but it is a very personal way and means a great deal to a few individuals. It’s also a very small amount of money for each purchase, so if you accidentally send to an imposter (word is that it’s pretty reliable) it’s not a lot of money. Be sure when you message back and forth that you don’t use specific words like stand and support because Paypal is being a real jerk.

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I have a review of Jess L. Parker’s brand new debut poetry collection, Star Things, in the current issue of the phenomenal Rain Taxi Review of Books. This will give you an idea.

What a great magazine to subscribe to. Here’s what it looks like.

 

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Anybody else register for the AWP conference? I signed up for the virtual format, and I am dismayed how few sessions there are. I keep wondering if I am reading the schedule incorrectly.  I must be?

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Make it the best week you know how!

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Does Shockwave Therapy Work?

Let’s see if I can write this post without any talk about the horrors going on in the real world.

When I got Valley Fever at the very end of September 2020, I whined a couple of times on this blog about my shoulder getting very bad at the same time. In fact, I might always wonder if my flu shot caused the damage. Before you laugh, that’s a real thing. Vaccines can cause bursitis, calcifications, and all manner of painful shoulder issues. In my case, when I finally got an xray, I was diagnosed with both rotator cuff calcification and frozen shoulder.  The reason it took months to get the diagnosis was that with Valley Fever I was terrified of getting Covid. They both tend to look the same on a lung xray, and at my age, I really didn’t want that double whammy.

After the diagnosis I began physical therapy and attended dutifully for almost three months. Then I kept doing the exercises for several months afterward. Surgery wasn’t the best situation for me because of another health issue. But then the shoulder pain began to increase again instead of decrease.

Bottom line about physical therapy: it completely unfroze my shoulder, so that’s a good thing. But it did nothing for the calcification, which was in a particularly painful spot. This pain went on for 1 1/2 years.

This winter I found a sports doctor who believes in non-surgical alternatives. I was specifically looking for someone who could prescribe shockwave therapy. I’d read online about it, and it sounded very promising. When I saw the doctor I found out that he had had the treatment himself and swore by it. I also discovered that he only recommended one place in the entire state of Arizona. It was luckily in the greater Phoenix area.

I went 4 times. Two times I had treatments by one therapist, then the 3rd and 4th were by a second therapist. I could tell immediately that she was more powerful in her administration of the therapy. After the 4th treatment I started feeling a lot better, but was still uncertain about the outcome. However, daughter’s wedding was coming up and I wanted to hibernate for a couple of weeks ahead of time so that I didn’t get Covid and miss the wedding.

Guess what happened? Those treatments had broken up the calcification. Over that two week period they were absorbed into my body. My shoulder is now completely better.

This is my testimonial for shockwave therapy. Why won’t insurance companies cover it? Is it because somebody is making money off all those shoulder surgeries?

I’m not a doctor of medicine (just literature which has a different sort of healing power haha), so this is just my story. From my story, my cautions would be to only get shockwave therapy under the supervision of a medical doctor and licensed physical therapist with shockwave training, not at an alternative medicine office of any kind. Read a lot online about it. Be sure never to get shockwave therapy in areas of the body where there is danger (again, research and doctor’s script).

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Next Monday I’ll be at the workshop in Tucson, so I won’t be posting. I’m excited because the other nonfiction entries have been good reading, so I think the interaction at the workshop should be a good one.

I’ve been #amwriting, #amreading, and #amrevising lately, although not too much of any of them. Just enough to keep me going. My focus has been off because of “world events,” and I am trying to be kind to myself.

That means arty junk journaling :). Here’s a video of a journal I just finished. It’s not one of my favorites, but some of the pages are decent. And I painted it in pale pink after the war started because somehow that color was calling to me.

Here is a reminder that spring is here, and the birds don’t know about all the horrors around the world. They are in “tryst” mode.

 

Make it a good week in the world around you!

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This is Today

I try to keep my blog a healing and nurturing place for myself and maybe a bit of an escape for readers. So I don’t like to write here about political issues. In fact, I hate politics, although I recognize how important they are. I can wish for permanent world peace, but I know that humans are deeply flawed and that the concept is a utopian ideal. Even without taking into account sociopaths and psychopaths, humans are gnarly, snarly selfish creatures. That said, there are plenty of mainly wonderful people doing wonderful things in this world.

Anyway this is leading up to me saying something about a political situation. And that is war perpetuated against Ukraine by Putin and Company. I find it so distressing, both for the Ukrainians and for world stability. There are constant wars against people all around the world, but the reason I am commenting here on this isn’t because these are white Europeans, although I’ve seen people argue this. It’s because there is a domino effect that can occur and there is a pattern of war in Europe contributing to or leading to war in many regions (world war).

Additionally, all four of the gardener’s grandparents were Jews from Ukraine, although it was part of the Russian Empire in those days.  Jewish history beyond the Pale has a lot of sad chapters, but there were also happy times and some good neighbors. Volodymyr Zelenskyy being selected as president of Ukraine was a big deal. He not only was a comedian and not a politician before this top office, but he is Jewish. How significant and hopeful that someone Jewish could be elected president of Ukraine. And now this horror.  Please send Ukraine what you’re good at: prayers, protesting, positive vibes, money, whatever you can do.

Here is a poem Rattle just published by a Ukrainian poet. She took Putin’s speech from Feb 21 and created an erasure poem, where words are erased to find a different meaning. Mir in Ukraine

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I had to get a piece of my memoir ready for the workshop at the Tucson Festival of Books. I received the manuscripts from the other participants the other day and am eager to read them. Some of them are probably the same pieces that made them finalists. For mine, I chose a different one. For the contest I sent in the first section of the memoir, about when I was a little kid. For the workshop I sent in the next section, where I was ten to 14 or so. I know that makes it sound like an autobiography, but it’s definitely a memoir, focused more on my relationship with my father.

On the subject of my arty junk journals, I began to prep the book to use for daughter’s wedding journal. First I had to gut my 2nd year French book. That felt great! It also provided me with some collage materials–music, maps, French passages. When I first saw people altering books, I didn’t like it. I couldn’t imagine violating a book. The teaching I had received about treating books like treasures was strong within me. But now I realize that there are plenty of books that end up in landfills and that there is a difference between an out-of-date textbook and a first edition of Peter Pan. It’s fun to give the book cover and the “collage materials” from the inside new life.

Reading some good books, such as Ashley C. Ford’s Somebody’s Daughter, a memoir, and Caroline Goodwin’s Madrigals, a collection of poetry and collage art.

 

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Saddest Poem Ever–and Happy Days This Week

Anyone can subscribe for free to receive a poem every day from the website poems.com through their Poetry Daily program.

On Saturday, they emailed a poem that really bothers me. I will post the link so you can read it. I hope you will because I want to know what others think. I posted it on my Facebook wall and nobody has even responded by the time I am writing this post.

Love Letter to Who Owns the Heavens

What do you think? Is that not the SADDEST thing? What in the world are we doing to our future?

Yeah, call me Debbie Downer to start off Monday like this.

But here’s a cheery thought. My daughter is getting married at the end of the week! Let’s hear some applause, please!  It’s been two years of Covid, as you well know, and finally they are holding their wedding. It will be much smaller than previously fantasized (by the couple), but more intimate–and hopefully lots of fun.  The gardener and I are both going to walk daughter down the aisle. Hope I don’t step on that long train!

My daughter isn’t a pink and glittery type, but she picked out a very Disney princess-style wedding gown, surprising me speechless. And to keep her company, I am wearing a ball gown (with black boots ;)).

Please help us in hoping for the best this weekend!

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Who Are Those Matching Ladies, Mommy?

Continue reading

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Filed under #amreading, #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, #writingcommunity, History, Memoir, Nonfiction, Vintage American culture

The Origin of Poetry, According to Me

Where did the poems come from? What I mean is, how did I come to be a poet? The beginning goes back to infancy.

It all started in my little bedroom on Trimble Street. We moved there before my first birthday, and we didn’t move away until I was 8 1/2, mid-way through 3rd grade. Some of my earliest memories are in that bedroom–in fact, in my crib in that bedroom. I would have been younger than two.

I had a little blue music box that my mother would wind up and play before she put me down for a nap or bedtime. When it wound down, sometimes I would fall asleep. More often, though, I would call to her and beg her to rewind it. The music was haunting and dare I say addictive! Two years ago I wrote about the music box, which I still have, and asked if anyone could identify the song it plays. Nobody could at that time, but the other day a reader found the post and told me that the music is “La Paloma,” composed in 1863 by a Spanish Basque man named Sebastian Yradier. It might be the most well-known tune in Spanish-language countries, especially Mexico!

Here is “La Paloma” (the Dove) as played by a fancier antique music box.

And here it is played as a guitar solo:

Here is my little music box:

Hearing that music over and over again was the foundation for poetry. The next layer, added over the few years before I began school, was nursery rhymes, folk songs, and picture books that used poetic devices such as rhyme and repetition. These were all found in my room. The books were not expensive–merely Little Golden Books from the grocery store. The records were little 45s played on my plastic children’s record player. Probably the biggest influence after that music box tune was the lullaby lyrics in a picture book my mother read to me: “All The Pretty Little Horses.”

Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry,
Go to sleepy little baby.
When you wake, you shall have,
All the pretty little horses.

Blacks and bays, dapples and greys,
Go to sleepy you little baby,

Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry,
Go to sleepy little baby.
Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry,
Go to sleepy little baby,
When you wake, you shall have,
All the pretty little horses.

There were layers after this that included a children’s poetry anthology my mother gave me, teachers who let us recite poems without analyzing them, and eventually I discovered Edna St. Vincent Millay reading her poetry on a record which I found as a teen at the public library.  I was mesmerized by the poem “Renascence.” Here is a recording of the poem she wrote at age 19!!!! although, alas, not recorded by Millay. I sure wish I had that library record as Millay reading it herself was phenomenal.

I know that poet XJ Kennedy wrote the following:

Ars Poetica

 

The goose that laid the golden egg

Died looking up its crotch

To find out how its sphincter worked.

 

Would you lay well?  Don’t watch.

Nevertheless, now that it’s come to me what the greatest influences were in making me a poet, I can’t “unknow” them.

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I’ve put my memoir on the back burner again, but feel I am so much closer with it. Now I am writing a poetry chapbook that explores the “Red Riding Hood” stories.

Did you hear or read fairy tales when you were a child (besides Disney)? If so, which ones influenced you the most?

 

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The Case of Alice Sebold

I’ve been dwelling on the case of Alice Sebold (author of the beautiful novel The Lovely Bones) and the trial of her accused rapist. I wrote about her memoir Lucky here: [P]lucky to Survive The book was structured in essentially two parts. Part one is about Sebold’s rape as a college sophomore and her resulting trauma. Part two is about the rape trial. When I wrote my earlier post I latched onto the opening rape scene because I was reading memoirs with the eye of a writer who wanted to write a memoir. I ignored the rest of the book. A reason, though, was that I felt confused by the book and also found the trial section icky, but I failed to analyze it enough.

Now, it turns out, the man she had identified as her rapist is innocent. Talk about gobsmacked. Anthony Broadwater, the man who went to prison and has now been exonerated, seems to have suffered because he was a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time. You can read about Sebold’s apology here: Alice Sebold Apologizes

I have some thoughts about this matter. My heart goes out to Anthony Broadwater for the ruination of his life and his reputation. I can’t even imagine what his life has been like or how it felt every day knowing he didn’t deserve what was happening. In articles, he sounds like a very balanced, kind man. Can you even imagine what he went through all this time? It seems just BEYOND.

Another aspect is that a lot of writers and others have been quick to condemn Sebold.  But remember she went through a horrific and terrorizing experience where she thought she would die and was never given proper support afterward. She was young and the rape must have damaged her emotionally. Then she had only the police and prosecutor to rely on. They were hell-bent on getting a conviction and manipulated the situation. She must have been like putty for their purposes.

To me, this is one of those horrific tragedies that happen in life where so many issues converge. There are innocents, like Broadwater, and bad actors, like the prosecution. Then there is Sebold, a victim of a horrible tragedy herself. Is she guilty of a travesty against Broadwater? Or is she being victimized all over again by people who were quick to denounce her?

When Sebold saw Broadwater on the street and thought he was the rapist, she was operating under a problem that everyone in the world operates under. Cross-racial identification is known to be very problematic. At least, we know that today. That wasn’t the case in 1982. I’m not sure how to solve this, but it needs solving so that we can trust identification of criminals. I do understand the phenomenon, though. We see the details that identify individuals more clearly in people we are most used to seeing. So if we come from a white family, we are best at identifying white individuals, etc.  I think we can all get better at this, but it takes being around people of all races! So is Sebold responsible for pointing out the wrong man or a victim of a natural phenomenon? Both?

Ugh, I hate situations like this. It’s so much easier when there are clear bad guys and good guys. Please help me organize my thoughts on this matter. What do you think?

What is clear to me is that a grave injustice was done to Anthony Broadwater. And all of us who read Sebold’s memoir were made complicit in it.

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I made my first mini junk journal last week. The video is a minute and a half and shows all the pages inside the journal, if you’re interested. The project was to put my “stamp” of authenticity on it. I feel like I did that.

 

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I will leave you with Perry to start your week. By the way, you know what my mother said the other day? That Perry looks like a rat!!! What kind of Grandma says that?! Sigh. More like a ferret or possum? In the following 6 second video, Perry learns that in the “Mouse for Cats” video game when he catches a mouse it squeaks.

NOW you will have a good week!

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3 Poems Up at Furious Gazelle and More Writing News

Hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a lovely one. My daughter’s in-laws had us over for an Italian Christmas feast, including gluten free versions for the gardener.  We had a wonderful time, needless to say.

I had some minor good news the other day. An excerpt of my unpublished memoir Scrap was a finalist in the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards. Woot! That feels like a step in the right direction for this project that has been in in the works since 2008 hahaha.

Coincidentally, on Christmas Eve, the journal Furious Gazelle published three poems, and these poems all relate to material found in Scrap. A big thank you to the editors.

You can read them here:

3 POEMS AT FURIOUS GAZELLE

In this photo my father is on our left and his twin brother is on our right. They look like they belong in an Our Gang movie, and it’s true they were raised by the streets as much as by their mother or sister.

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