I am very excited to see five of my Remedios Varo inspired micro stories published at The Ekphrastic Review! A huge thank you to EIC Lorette C. Luzajic for this and more. Each tiny story is accompanied by the art that inspired it. Some of these, like the one last week in Bending Genres, are about poets. I am pretty proud of all my Varo stories and think they are some of my best work. Whether or not they are to your taste is another matter. They tend toward the sarcastic. I hope you do like them, though!
Category Archives: Art and Music
Think of this as part 2 of the reviews of some non-poetry books. If you’re one of the authors, feel free to drop your BOOK LINK or website and/or blog links in the comments! That’s because I am too lazy to pull together that information . . . . But if you put book link in the comments, I’ll try to add it to the post. How bout that?
HISTORICAL NOVEL ABOUT WOMAN IN 1920S VERMONT
Elizabeth Gauffreau’s novel Telling Sonny puts a few turbulent months in one woman’s life under the microscope. In doing so, the story captures subtle twists and turns in protagonist Faby Gauthier’s personality, character, and outlook on life. This psychological exploration is most akin to the excavations into the psyche as written by Henry James, but without his complicated sentences and repetitions. Instead, the reader’s attention is less focused on the psychology than on the details of the protagonist, Faby Gauthier’s, experience at home and on the road traveling with her new husband, a vaudeville dancer. Gauffreau manages to recreate a lost world of 1920s small-town New England, Atlantic City, the vaudeville circuit, and rail travel. She obviously painstakingly researched the novel, polishing every detail of each scene until it shines with clarity. Gauffreau’s writing style successfully marries the direct nature of contemporary writing with a more graceful syntax that befits the time period, as well as Faby’s upbringing. When I finished the book, I wanted to talk to other readers about the book, especially my thoughts about Faby and Louis, both micro (such as their choices) and macro (relating to history and sociology). So, please, read it and talk to me about it!
Telling Sonny is on sale right now at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1364146
I did read Elizabeth Gauffreau’s novel some time ago, but wanted to post it here since it is on sale and is a personal favorite, plus I don’t believe I ever posted a review of the book on this blog. I’m eagerly awaiting Liz’s next novel . . . .
HISTORICAL NOVEL ABOUT JEWISH PIONEERS TO SANTA FE
Santa Fe Love Song, by Amy Bess Cohen, reads like a valentine from Cohen to her great-great grandparents Bernard and Frances (Nussbaum) Seligmann. The story of Bernard, a young immigrant from a small town in Germany to Philadelphia and Santa Fe, though fictionalized, gives a wonderful account of what it would have been like for a German Jewish young man to travel across the ocean by himself, get a job, learn English, and within a matter of months, move across the country to New Mexico via the grueling Santa Fe Trail to meet up with his brother. It’s fascinating to read about Bernard’s acclimation to living out west just before, during, and after the Civil War.
The story is of Bernard’s development as an important pioneer of Santa Fe, and his search for a Jewish wife to bring to a place where there were very few Jews, no Kosher foods, and no synagogue. When he traveled back to Philadelphia to look for a wife, he fell in love with Frances, but would she move to Santa Fe with him? And, if so, would she stay? The story is engaging and the suspense level is well-moderated. When the book ended, I didn’t want to leave the lives of the family of Bernard and Frances. I hope there will be a sequel.
Although the reader first meets Bernard when he is nineteen, he ages throughout the course of the novel, so in this one respect Santa Fe Love Song does not fit the definition of young adult literature. The main character is not a preteen or teen. Nevertheless, half the texts recommended for secondary school students have adult protagonists. The themes and the way mature subjects are handled mean that this book would be suitable for older children, teens, and adults.
Cohen wrote the book, in part, for her own grandchildren to learn about their heritage and the strength of the people who came before them. In keeping with that focus, her grandsons, Nathaniel Jack Fischer and Remy Brandon Fischer, illustrated the book with charming and detailed drawings. They really add to the overall experience of reading this lovely book.
Perhaps the book’s greatest importance lies in how it goes beyond the more often recorded history of Jewish immigrants enriching the eastern American cities where they tended to congregate in the mid to late 1800s and early 1900s. Instead, Santa Fe Love Song has a Jewish protagonist who quickly learns how to ride a horse, shoot a gun, and hold his own against the rough and tumble forces of the early American west.
Marian Longenecker Beaman’s memoir Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl is a fascinating excursion into Marian’s life as a child and young woman who grew up in a Mennonite farm household in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. This is the first time I have been shown what plain and fancy mean to the Mennonites. Marian was brought up plain, wearing no jewelry or makeup and hiding her hair under a cap. Most of the women did not drive, but the families did have cars that the men drove. (I grew up in Michigan, and many of the Michigan/Indiana Mennonites still ride in buggies like the Amish). Secretly, Marian was drawn to what is fancy, symbolized by her dream of wearing red shoes. While Marian does eventually make a move to the fancy world, she stays true to her Christian upbringing. The book is uplifting and inspirational but doesn’t shy away from the negative in the form of her father whose inability to demonstrate affection and harsh punishments of Marian is heart-breaking. You won’t be disappointed by this story of a different time (largely the 50s and early 60s) and a family rooted in a tradition quite different from most Americans.
P.S. This is not part of my review, but I will mention that I wish that Marian Beaman had set the Mennonites in context with the overwhelmingly majority Amish of the region. You might want to look that up before starting the book. She does, though, make some comparisons with Orthodox Jewish traditions. Also: I love the cover with the red shoes! The book can be purchased here: https://marianbeaman.com/
MYSTERY WITH A HISTORICAL AND ART WORLD TWIST
Attribution is not only a fun and riveting read, but it’s a smart one, too. I learned so much about art history (and art politics) along the way. The protagonist, Cate, a doctoral student finds a mystery painting. She decides to seek attribution for the painting. Her search takes her from her New York university to Spain where she meets a romantic descendant of an old aristrocratic family. The further Cate gets into the mess she’s created, the more questions and dangers arise about the painting and the characters who revolve around that painting.
I have a feeling that the author, Linda Moore, spent a long time researching and writing this book, but I am ready for the sequel as I did not want the book to end!
NOVEL OF ADVENTURE IN INDIA, FOCUS ON TOPIC OF ADOPTION
Elaine Pinkerton’s novel The Hand of Ganesh took me on a journey to India with such great detail that I felt as if I accompanied Clara and Dottie/Arundati on their quest to find Dottie’s birth mother. The young women also visited India to carry out the wishes of others for the stone hand of Ganesh that had been in Dottie’s adoptive family. The omniscient novel focuses mainly on Clara, an American (and Native American) adoptee whose story was first told in Pinkerton’s novel All the Wrong Places. Clara, who has already searched for her birth mother, acts as a sort of guide for Dottie who was born in India, but she knows very little about her origins. She is the ideal viewpoint for the novel because she is an outsider to India and shares what she learned with the reader. Suspense lies both in the larger issue—will Dottie find the mother of the child Arundati—and in a more subtle question—how do foreigners know who to trust in a country they do not know or understand? Read The Hand of Ganesh for its engaging storyline, meticulous depiction of southern India, and adoptee themes. Read The Hand of Ganesh and you will be eager to plan a trip to India.
I’ve enjoyed more books than this, but whew, I’m tired just remembering them all. Hope you find something that appeals to you here! And note that Anneli Purchase writes some stellar novels. Here’s my review on this blog of my favorite, Julia’s Violinist: https://writersite.org/2021/12/20/my-review-of-julias-violinist-by-anneli-purchase-and-note-from-the-author/ Another author of note is Joy Neale Kidney whose Leora historical series makes for an entertaining, educational, and sometimes heartbreaking experience. I have read all three books. Here is the first one I read and the review I posted here: https://writersite.org/2020/01/27/book-review-leoras-letters-or-how-i-learned-empathy-for-americans-during-wwii/
This is kind of exciting to me: Mad Swirl has published a few of my art pieces with an offer to add to the online gallery (I guess I better start playing in my messy room in spite of my leg!).
This is what the editor wrote:
“Mad Swirl is excited to bring a new artist, Luanne Castle to the Mad Gallery, with work somehow as whimsical as it is haunting. Luanne brings us these magical collage pieces from Arizona, USA, and we must say, her passion for poetry and art is evident in the way she uniquely blends odds and ends of both together in her eccentric and intriguing work. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something very Alice In Wonderland about her collages – a little mystical, dreamy & strange, like maybe we’ve plunged into a rabbit hole ourselves. ~ Madelyn Olson”
Language is part of these pieces, whether you can see it all or not. There is also a word some might not like so if you are sensitive about cussing you might not want to check out the images (or read too closely into the screen shot). If it doesn’t bother you, I hope you like them!
Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested this prompt today: to write a syllabic poem using this 19th century painting as inspiration. She mentioned how it looked like the girl is on her cell phone. For a time it was hard to unsee that cell. But then, after I saw something hanging down from the “cell phone,” I realized how important our own world views are to how we see something. As I researched, I read that Hitler loved the paintings of this artist, Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, and made his work Nazi favorites. But the artist (blessedly) never lived long enough to see the Nazis come to power or to know the name Adolf Hitler. All these different perspectives are where my poem today comes from and it is what complicates the form, creating an ekphrastic contrapuntal tanka string with haiku.
I’m sorry that the poem had to be a screenshot as I couldn’t make it stay on the screen otherwise. If you click on the poem image a couple of times you might be able to make it larger. Please let me know if you can read it or if I need to figure out something else. Any ideas would be appreciated.
This Sunday, March 5, is the launch of my new chapbook Our Wolves with its gorgeous cover art by Kiki Suarez.
In light of that event, I wanted to share a little bit about Kiki and her work.
Kiki was born in Germany, but ended up moving to Mexico where she has lived most of her adult life. She is an artist, a writer, and a psychotherapist. Check out her website, Kikimundo which shares her work, about her company, and a little bit about who she is. I first met Kiki online when we were both writing articles for a site called Cowbird. In a way, writing for Cowbird was like blog writing before I had a blog. Like WordPress, the international community that developed from our shared projects was wonderful, and many of us still stay in contact with each other online.
Here is some more stunning art from the same collection as the one I chose for Our Wolves.
On Facebook, Kiki writes long posts that tell stories about her life. And I noticed on her website that she has blog posts, which I did not realize until now. Here is a wonderful one about her father. Remember that these are written in Spanish, but Google translated for me. I hope it will for you, too.
Now I said that Kiki is a psychotherapist. Here she is in a space devoted to healing people. She says that she combines elements of Rogerian and Gestalt therapy, as well as many elements of Buddhist philosophy.
I owe a big thank you to Kiki for her gorgeous art for my chapbook, as well as making my life more enjoyable in general. I love to read her stories characterized by her big heart and to see the vibrant art she shares online.
I want to thank readers of Rooted and Winged who have taken the time to post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or their own blogs. The ones posted on blogs I have shared.
Here are a few Amazon reviews I haven’t shared before:
I know how precious your time is, and it’s very meaningful to me that you reviewed Rooted and Winged!
These are some tags I made for the first “water” prompt at The Ugly Art Club. Yup, still doing art journalling. I am starting to find little things about my “style.” It’s been slow coming, but–for instance–the half woman (skirt half) in the top library card. I like using women’s skirts. Go figure.
Artist Kelsey Montague has painted art wings all over the country (and elsewhere). One of her murals is at the Fashion Square Mall in Scottsdale, Arizona. When my daughter and I had lunch at the mall, she took my pic with the wings to celebrate the 2022 publication of my poetry collection Rooted and Winged.
You can purchase a copy of my book here: https://www.amazon.com/Rooted-Winged-Luanne-Castle/dp/1646628632/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3RCAIJJKAUOVE&keywords=rooted+and+winged&qid=1670344522&sprefix=rooted+and+wi%2Caps%2C394&sr=8-1
The poems of Rooted and Winged explore the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. They are of the earth, the place of fertile origins, and of the dream world we observe and imagine when we look upward. Golems and ghosts that emerge from the ground, as well as the birds and angels that live above us, inhabit the collection. We will always be striving for flight, even as we feel most comfortable closest to the earth.
There are poems about Arizona, California, and the lakes of Michigan. My maternal grandparents are the characters that most inhabit this book.
The poems of Luanne Castle’s Rooted and Winged are embedded in land and weather. “Bluegills snap up larvae in slivers of illusory light,” she writes early in the collection, hinting at the sensibilities of the companionable speaker who will usher us through the book.
—Diane Seuss (2022, Pulitzer for poetry)
Cover art: Leonard Cowgill
For the past 75 days I have been participating in a class, taught by Kasia Avery, through Everyday Art called 100 Small Steps. The course was designed a couple of years ago which is when others took it. But it’s still up at their site and the price is minimal. So I am taking this class all by my lonesome. The structure is that of a daily prompt, a guideline, and a bonus life enrichment prompt and is meant to “force” one to do something creative every day. There is a Facebook page related to the course, and I am posting a photo every day of that day’s work. Of course, I am the only one doing so. And there are people who took this course in the past who are kind enough to give me regular encouragement although they are long past this experience.
At this point, I am 3/4 of the way through the program. Even when I had to go out of town for work or had distressing life events, I still made sure to do something in my art journal. There’s a lot of crap, but every day taught me something. And there are a few pages that make me very happy. One important thing about pushing myself through the 100 days is that I keep going. It would be easy to miss some days, but then it will be even easier to miss a few more. And time spent with my art journal is my zen time.
For the first 25 days I used a zippered binder and its “cardstock” dividers. This binder had been left at my house by a previous boyfriend of daughter. For the second 25 days I used an address book. 26 letters of the alphabet is pretty close to 25 days! Then I started a journal that Kasia had recommended as an inexpensive type she likes. It’s a Decomposition Book (hahaha), made of 100% post-consumer-waste recycle pages and printed with soy ink. This one has a topographic map on the cover and graph paper inside. The pages are a bit thin, so sometimes I glue two together. And the gesso helps strengthen them, as well. My big dilemma now is whether I continue in this book or switch to a fourth book. I think I’ll switch because the journal is already getting pretty thick with gesso, paint, collage, fabric scraps, safety pins, and the like.
The kitties are a lot of work because of integrating all these various personalities. But they sure are cute. I discovered that Meesker is talented at catch. We bat one of his toy mice back and forth. He catches with his claws extended and then smacks it right back at me. Lily is a talented eater and excellent lovebug.
I had a couple of poems from my Red Riding Hood project accepted at a wonderful journal (I’ll share when they are published) and have one of my Rooted and Winged Grandma poems accepted at another. I want to start a writing project before too long. Maybe when 100 Small Steps is completed. Go have a great week!
Today begins Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead. If you’re not familiar with the holiday you might think it strange to greet someone with “Feliz Dia de los Muertos,” but the special day is one for celebration.
You already saw the nicho I made for the cats, but when I was preparing the box, I actually prepared two at once. After the cat nicho was done, I thought I would make one (or an ofrenda, although the religious connotation of that makes it not quite the right word as I am not Catholic) for loved ones in heaven of the gardener and myself.
So Feliz Dia de los Muertos!
Guess who is visiting this week? My mom!!! First time I’ve seen her in two years!!!!
Make it a great week!
On my last post about losing all the kitties, Linda Raha suggested I make scrapbooks for the kitties. She knew that that would be right up my alley. What she didn’t know is that I was already making something to remember my dears by.
Using my art journaling supplies and a carton that cat food comes in, I made this so that all the kitties (including Mac who I lost in 2015) are together, right where I can see them all the time.
The cat bed and bowls are dollhouse-sized. The kitty on top was a gift. Here is a close-up of the kitty pix.
Upper left is my heart Pear, then clockwise, Mac, Felix, and Izzie.
Monday I had the vaccine booster shot, and I felt fine yesterday morning. But then I started to get sick with a 101 fever and then painful lymph node swelling under my arm, reaching into my chest and back and down to the tips of my fingers. I had finger cramping last night, but not this morning, so maybe I will be getting better soon.
Well, i wanted to share with you my little cat nicho. Make it a great rest of your week. XOXO