Category Archives: #AmWriting

“Tuesday Afternoon at Magpie’s Grill”

Thrilled to have a new poem up at Nine Muses Poetry. This poem was written about my occasional time spent writing poetry at Magpie’s and named, appropriately, Tuesday Afternoon at Magpie’s Grill.

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A big thank you to editor Annest Gwilym.

I hope you enjoy the trip into a writer’s thinking in this odd poem!

 

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Favorite Outfits Never Really Leave You

I didn’t get much accomplished this week since I had to go to California for business and got caught in the floods there, delaying my return by one day. On the way to California, I saw an odd blimp out in the middle of the desert, just off the 10.

At the time, I found it confusing. Then I saw an article about Carnival Cruise Line starting a blimp campaign last year.  But the gardener saw a different article. That one said that the DEA is using blimps for border surveillance. Hmm. I guess it could be both. Truth is strange, as you know.

I’ve been working on my own version of Swedish Death Cleaning by trying to go through file drawers a little bit every day that I am home. I’m also finding objects and papery reminders which make me want to write more posts about the life of objects.

I found a couple of old photographs of one of my favorite outfits ever which led to a week-long meditation on “favorite outfits,” and the beginning of a possible poem. How many favorite outfits have you had in your life? I can count mine on both hands–maybe one hand.

I bought this one with my store discount from the fancy store in Kalamazoo where I worked when I first started college. It was called Jacobson’s, and they had an apparel store and a “store for the home,” but the prototype was probably Saks. This 3-piece jersey outfit was comfortable, and I loved the cream/vivid blue combination (although I’m not actually a blue person, probably half my favorite outfits have been blue or had blue in them). In these two photos you can see both the tank top and the jacket, but not the almost-palazzo pants. The beads were from work, too. I don’t know what ever happened to the outfit, but I suspect I literally wore it out. I never would have gotten rid of it otherwise. That’s how much I loved it. Best memory wearing it was in Jamaica, at our months-after-the-wedding honeymoon.

The man on the right is one of my uncles, and the other man was his FIL. I was serving punch at a family party. Isn’t it funny that seeing that outfit in the photos makes me as happy as wearing it used to? And why did I love that outfit so much more than anything else? I have always loved birds, and pheasants run loose on the fabric, but that’s only one aspect.

I can’t imagine feeling this way about what I wear today since I have it down to a uniform involving either yoga pants or Duluth Trading Company stretch pants along with a tunic, athletic shoes, and a ballcap.

Anybody else have those thoughts about favorite outfits of the past? Tell me about your favorites, please!

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerslife, Creative Nonfiction, Inspiration, Memoir, Nonfiction, Vintage American culture, Writing

This and That

My poem “Why We Wait for Rain” was published this past week by Red River Review. You can read it here: WHY WE WAIT FOR RAIN. The poem came about because Arizona has a very dry climate (usually), and the smell of rain just about does me in. It’s the creosote, just so you know.

I’m usually so lax about my submission process, including record-keeping and goals. But this year, as you might recall, I have set a goal for myself. This publication is the third one so far (although one of the others published five poems, I am counting publications, not pieces), and there is another one that will be published near the end of this month.

I had a lovely package to open the other day. Sheila Morris’ latest book, Four Ticket Ride, with a beautiful inscription and . . . wait for it, my name in the dedications! Made me so happy I could have cried if I wasn’t smiling. Read about it on Sheila’s blog here. I can’t wait to read it! Click the book image to purchase through Amazon.

Guess what’s coming up in March April?! NAPOWRIMO

Who is with me? Let’s write a poem a day, starting March April 1! I did it last year, and I felt quite productive! Of course, this year I will have company. That might cut into my productivity. Merril, a big thank you to you who pointed out my error. I won’t have as MUCH company in April (I think) as in March so actually April should be better for NAPOWRIMO.

This is a tangent, but the gardener and I bought some new flowers for the yard.

Cyclamen

Make it a lovely week, my dears.

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The Artist Date, Sort Of (Bowers Museum)

Last week I posted about the first Artist Date (Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way) I went on when my uncle was visiting. We visited the Teotihuacan exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum.

A few days later we went to California for a brief trip, and while we were there, we visited the Bowers Museum in Orange County. All those years I lived in southern California, and I had never been there. I call these posts “The Artist Date, Sort of” because they are not solo excursions.

Lots of shadows on these pix. I hope you don’t mind because the objects are memorable.

The headhunters exhibit was quite unusual! I have to admit it did creep me out a bit.

These three “masks” below? Yup, real human skulls.

The weapons and body adornments were also creepy.

 

Why, YES, that necklace IS made of human teeth.

This headband is dog teeth.

The gallery of sculptures made of gemstones carved by Harold Van Pelt was stunning. So much of it looked like glass, but more gorgeous.

The museum has a beautiful Chinese exhibit.

We also visited the early California exhibit, as well as the beautiful realistic portraits and still lifes by William and Alberta McCloskey. After the museum, we stumbled upon a fabulous Japanese supermarket Mitsuwa, where we stocked up on gluten free Miso soup varieties and kimchees (OK, those are Korean, but we love kimchee). For dinner we visited The LAB antimall and a delicious Cuban restaurant called Habana. Both the supermarket and the restaurant need return visits from me :).

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May I ask you if you will consider doing something? Will you sign a petition to the governor of Arizona about the need to close down Dolphinaris, the horror chamber for dolphins in the desert? As expected, the dolphins are dying at an unbelievable rate. Four of the eight dolphins have already died in only 16 months! Over the weekend, there was yet another demonstration, this one drawing hundreds, and because of the outcry Dolphin Quest that supplies the dolphins has terminated their contract with Dolphinaris. But this is just a battle won, not the war. Here is the link to the petition.

Take the Dolphins Out of the Desert

IF THE PETITION IS CLOSED, PLEASE WRITE TO GOVERNOR DUCEY AT THIS ADDRESS

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I didn’t get too much writing done this week, but I stumbled across a binder of rejections and acceptances from when I was just starting out. I couldn’t believe how kind the rejecters were. They wrote handwritten notes, telling me what they liked and encouraging me. Quite a far cry from Submittable (the site most lit mags use for submissions) today where I am lucky to get a note with a rejection.  Most of the acceptances cracked me up. I can’t believe they took those crummy poems. It’s so embarrassing to read some of them. Actually, my stories were more well-written, but they had other problems.  Still, there were a couple of poems (maybe three) I still like.

But I did have a poem acceptance this week, so YAY!

Make it a good week!

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerslife, Art and Music, California, Publishing, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing

The Artist Date, Sort Of (Teotihuacan exhibit)

Are you familiar with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way? I really like the idea of Artist Dates, where the writer or artist goes on a weekly expedition to explore something inspiring or enchanting. I like to try to do that as often as I can. (It’s been pointed out to me that Artist Dates should be SOLO, but when I have an opportunity like this, I take it as-is).

While my uncle was visiting, the gardener and I took him to the Teotihuacan exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum. Between 100 BCE and 650 CE, Teotihuacan was the largest city in the Americas. In some ways it was like many pre-Columbian exhibits and in other ways it seemed brand new to me. I can’t quite explain it. I also thought it was fascinating that there were so many “feline” shapes in the art. (Love my cats!) Let me mention that my uncle won two scholarships to the Art Institute in Chicago when he was a kid. He was able to attend the first time, but the second time he had a serious illness and had to stay home for a full year. He had to go to work very young and was never able to pursue a career as an artist, although he certainly had the talent.

It was really fascinating to see how much art was designed to replicate teeth!

The earrings or “ear plugs” the statues wear are the same as those worn by the Aztecs, so that style was around for many centuries (it still is, I guess).

The plaques on the walls described the city in some detail. I found the pyramids to once again remind me so much of Egyptian pyramids. Maybe I’ve heard too many episodes of the ancient alien shows that the gardener likes to watch . . . .

On the way in and out of the gallery, we were met with two beauties. One was the Carlos Amorales piece “Black Cloud,” a swarm of black moths and butterflies.

The other was this dandelion sculpture created by (I think) Josiah McElheny:

I’m a huge fan of big contemporary installations like these as they really set the tone and show me that humankind is still creating amazing art.

A few days after we visited the museum, we took Uncle Frank to California for a few days. I’ll write about that part of the trip later. Mebbe next week, I hope.

BUT a few days after my uncle left for Arkansas, I had the real pleasure of meeting Theresa Barker. She blogs at Theresa Barker Lab Notes. We had a fun time comparing notes on our families and exchanging a few of our favorite poems and discussing them. What a blast! She is as nice and smart in person as in blogland.

I’ve been feeling very depleted and tired lately, so much so that creating new work seems impossible. However, I pulled out a lot of unfinished poems. By unfinished, I mean that they were too complete, too mediocre, and had been filed away. I am going through and revising these poems. Maybe I will find something good in some of them!

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerslife, Arizona, Art and Music, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing

Magical Music Box

I forgot about writing posts based on Dawn Raffel’s memoir, The Secret Life of Objects. Joey over at Joeyfully Stated reminded me, so I’m happy to be back at it. I’ve written about the magical bowls of my childhood snacking and the name sign from my grandmother’s mailbox, as well as some jewelry that holds meaning for me.

Maybe the object that I still have that carries my earliest memories is the music box I have had since I was a baby. I know it’s weird, but I am a person with very early memories. I apparently inherited this ability from my grandfather. If you wonder what toddler memories are like, they are exactly like memories from all the other times of your life: vivid and realistic.

When my mother put me down for a nap, she would wind up the music box and set it going. I still remember standing in my crib, looking over the white iron bars, willing the music box to start up again. It didn’t, of course, as it had to be wound by someone.

I think I must have been a hard kid to settle to sleep (undiagnosed ADHD or anxiety?), and I always felt I was missing something. But then again my parents wanted me to nap AND have an extremely early bedtime. As a child I used to play shadow games or read under the covers with my flashlight.

When I became a teen, it was the sixties and incense was very popular, so I used my music box as an incense burner.

Have you ever heard that music is one of the best triggers for memory? Well, my music box–after 60+ years–still works. (Take that you plastic parts in today’s merchandise!)

I did a quick search online for a vintage round metal music box, and there are quite a few that look very similar, even to the color. They are called “powder puff” style. It’s very possible that this music box is from the 1940s and predates me. It could have belonged to my mother or grandmother well before I was born.

Question of the day: what song does the music box play?

Anybody want to play along and write about the secret life of an object? If so, please post the link in the comments here!

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On another note, my uncle has been visiting for two weeks and the kids (daughter and BF) are still living here, so for an HSP like me it’s been Grand Central Station over here.

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Family history, Flash Nonfiction, Memoir, Nonfiction, Vintage American culture, Writing, Writing prompt

How to Get Free Headshots

Suddenly my headshots seemed really out-of-date to me, but I have no budget “presently” for new ones. Daughter to the rescue!!! You may or may not remember that she made the trailer for Kin Types. I asked her if she would take new headshots for me, and she eagerly agreed (yay!).

I’m going to tell you the secret right up front to doing your own headshots and portrait photos: a ring light. Yup, you can get them online for $100 or so. So so cool. I’m not sure what daughter’s brand is, but here is a sample. OK, so if you buy a ring light, your headshots aren’t exactly free.  But if you have a family member or friend with a ring light you can borrow it like I did ;). And I borrowed her time and skill.

That is the first one in a series of three. Here is #2:

and #3:

OK, I’m now overloaded on looking at my own pix (something I hate almost as much as hearing the sound of my voice).

That poncho I’m wearing I bought at the art museum in Knoxville. The artist is Judi Gaston. It has a pretty button design. You can’t see it here, but you can in my Instagram post.

My uncle, the one who lives in Arkansas is visiting right now so I am going to try to close comments. Plus I don’t want you to have to say how good the headshots look because I might gag although I so appreciate daughter’s wonderful photography skills.

 

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First Poems of 2019 Published This Past Week

My poem “How to Create a Family Myth” has been published in  Volume 6 of the esteemed literary magazine, The American Journal of Poetry Many thanks to editor Robert Nazarene for taking this piece.

This prose poem belongs in Kin Types: it’s about Kalamazoo and my grandfather’s stories.

This is the house in the poem:

Additionally, I discovered a cool journal called Defuncted that takes poems that were published in literary journals that are now defunct. They published four poems in one collection and then a fifth poem is separate because it had unusual formatting. I love the photos they put with the poems, too.

You can find the collection here at Collection of Poems by Luanne Castle

To find the uniquely formatted poem, check out Serotonin

If you recall I made a publication goal for myself this year. So The American Journal of Poetry and Defuncted are one and two on my 2019 list.

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Cats and First Sentences

This past week I have been babysitting my daughter’s cat. Isabella Rose is a sweet brown tabby. My daughter watched Perry once for a week, so Izzie knows Perry and they get along fine. At one point, I thought Perry was in love with Izzie, but that ardor has cooled and they are just “parallel play” buddies, like toddlers. The other day I let Perry go in the bedroom alone with Izzie because I was busy and thought he would babysit her for awhile. Hah!

When I went back to look for him, I couldn’t find him anywhere. I started to think the gardener had let him out of the bedroom and had forgotten. I searched the whole house. Nada. Then I remembered something. The bedroom was once his bedroom when he was new to our house. At that time, he clawed a hole in the bottom of the box springs so he could climb up in there.

Sure enough, I found him up under the bed. With the boards and the fabric bottom surrounding him, I thought he was stuck up there. If you want to see a very dark video, check out my Instagram. If you have an account, please follow me, and I will follow you back if you “like” Perry’s pic/video (so I know you’re legit haha).

Come to find out, Perry just didn’t want me to take him out of Izzie’s room. He got out of there just fine when he wanted a treat.

Before I let you go, tell me if you think this is an appalling first sentence for a chapter (because I do):

The first hint of fall filled the crisp late afternoon air.

It’s boring, but that’s not the problem I find with it. What the heck is the “first hint of fall”? Huh? WHAT specifically fills the air. I can’t imagine it. There is no image so of course I can’t imagine it. Is it a smell that fills the air? A sound? Please share it with me, writer.

I discovered this annoyance in Rita Mae Brown’s Tall Tail, one of the cat mystery series Brown writes with Sneaky Pie Brown (her tabby who MUST have passed on by now). It’s a Bantam Book and Brown is a big-ass writer. Years ago, I read her influential lesbian novels Rubyfruit Jungle and Six of One. She’s a good and prolific writer, but I’m really appalled at the poor editing (on the part of an editor?) that would allow this sentence to go to press.

Why am I sharing my frustration? I tend to think that if the book has a big publisher it’s been well edited. But I guess not. This is not my first disappointment of this nature either. Is this a new development in the world of books or have I not noticed it before?

OK, done, time to think about other things.

Perry says HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Love and light to you and yours!

Luanne

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Books, Cats and Other Animals, Editing, Writing

Luanne Castle (Chapbook Confessions #5)

A big thank you to Underfoot Poetry for pushing me to inquire. Where did the poems for my full-length collection Doll God come from? I tried to figure it out!

Underfoot Poetry

Chapbook Confessions is a series in which poets discuss, at length, the writing of their most recent collection of poems, in whatever way they desire. For more information on the series, go here.

Below, Luanne Castle writes on her 2015 collection,Doll God (Aldrich Press).


41fJirDZxUL._SX331_BO1_204_203_200_360xWhen I first read the Chapbook Confessions project, I was intrigued and wondered if I participated would I be able to discover insight into my writing process. The notion of what I might find both allured and frightened me.

Part of me agrees with the brief “Ars Poetica” I heard X. J. Kennedy recite when I was a young grad student in Michigan:

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.

The thought of losing the ability to write a poem because I inquired into…

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, Doll God, Fairy Tales, Interview, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Writing