Category Archives: Reading

Review of Rooted and Winged by Marie A. Bailey

For some reason WordPress doesn’t allow me to reblog to Writer Site, so I am posting a link to Marie Bailey’s fun review of Rooted and Winged. Thank you so much, Marie, for giving me a fresh look at my poetry collection!!!

https://1writeway.wordpress.com/2022/10/31/the-ease-of-wind-filled-wings-a-review-of-luanne-castles-rooted-and-winged-poetry-bookreview/

Read why Marie felt anxiety and exhilaration . . . .

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Filed under #amreading, #amwriting, #poetrycommunity, #writingcommunity, Book Review, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Poetry reading, Reading

Poetry in the Blogosphere: The Video Recording

Liz Gauffreau has made a video of the March 23 poetry reading for those who wanted to attend, but were unable to. Here ’tis.

Now, how do I stop saying um before every sentence? Are there online lessons available in that? Do I use a shock collar?

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Furry Grandbabies

I am a fur grandma all over again. And again. My daughter and  son-in-law adopted two kitten sisters.  Last July, their dear cat Izzie died quite unexpectedly. They didn’t want to get a cat leading up to their wedding because they were so busy, but daughter has been jonesing for a cat.  She knows it is better for the kittens if two are adopted together. I’ve taught her well. Cute enough?

So now I am the proud Grandma of 4 cats and 3 dogs (between both my kids). Most of my cats weren’t interested in meeting these babies, but Perry was. When he sat next to their carrier and looked in at them from above, my daughter said, “Looks like in ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,’ with his big head and their little bodies.”

 

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Our blogger poets reading is this coming Saturday, April 23!  If you want to and are able to attend, please register at the link below. And if you feel like sharing with friends, please do :)!

https://tinyurl.com/Poets-in-the-Blogosphere

The theme for National Poetry Month 2022 is There’s A Poem in This Place. Two places to find contemporary poetry at its most vibrant are in the blogging community and at live readings. On 23 April 2022 from 4-5:30 PM ET, the two places cometogetherwhen a select group of poets from the blogosphere present a live reading of their poetry at Poets in the Blogosphere. Most poetry is meant to be read aloud, and hearing poets read their own work is a heightened experience.The event is moderated by Elizabeth Gauffreau. Please register in advance at https://tinyurl.com/Poets-in-the-Blogosphere

#NationalPoetryMonth

#blogpoetsread2022

Celebrate National Poetry Month with Elizabeth Gauffreau, Luanne Castle, Serena Agusto-Cox, Ken Gierke, George Franklin, Stephanie L. Harper, Carla McGill, Robert Okaji, and Merril Smith!

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Tiny Books

You may or may not recall my book Doll God and chapbook Kin Types. Now it’s time to see the miniature versions.

After the release of Doll God, the doll on the cover was named Mary Gold by blog readers. I lost track of her for awhile, but then she turned up. I’ve been keeping her safe. Then I bought her a tiny Doll God. 

Joy Neal Kidney wrote a splendiferous review of Doll God today over on her blog! You can read it here: DOLL GOD REVIEW BY JOY NEAL KIDNEY

Of course, after seeing Mary Gold’s photo shoot, my other dolls started crying for their own tiny book. This doll, with her roots from the same heritage as so many of my ancestors, was selected to pose with a mini Kin Types.

When the gardener sees me doing photo shoots of dolls and kitties (like for Tiger’s birthday), I know he thinks I’m a weirdo. But he’s the bigger weirdo because he keeps sweeping up the same dead leaves and dried flowers day after day. How boring is that!

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Reminder to register for the blogger poets zoom poetry reading scheduled for Saturday, 23 April! Link below.

https://tinyurl.com/Poets-in-the-Blogosphere

The theme for National Poetry Month 2022 is There’s A Poem in This Place. Two places to find contemporary poetry at its most vibrant are in the blogging community and at live readings. On 23 April 2022 from 4-5:30 PM ET, the two places cometogetherwhen a select group of poets from the blogosphere present a live reading of their poetry at Poets in the Blogosphere. Most poetry is meant to be read aloud, and hearing poets read their own work is a heightened experience.The event is moderated by Elizabeth Gauffreau. Please register in advance at https://tinyurl.com/Poets-in-the-Blogosphere

#NationalPoetryMonth

#blogpoetsread2022

 

Celebrate National Poetry Month with Elizabeth Gauffreau, Luanne Castle, Serena Agusto-Cox, Ken Gierke, George Franklin, Stephanie L. Harper, Carla McGill, Robert Okaji, and Merril Smith!

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Celebrate Poetry in the Blogosphere on April 23

Consider this an invitation to attend a National Poetry Month special event dear to my heart! We are holding a zoom poetry reading honoring the theme this year: THERE’S A POEM IN THIS PLACE.  This line is taken from a poem by 2021 Presidential Inaugural Poet and 2017 National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman.  Our place is the blogosphere!

The theme for National Poetry Month 2022 is There’s A Poem in This Place. Two places to find contemporary poetry at its most vibrant are in the blogging community and at live readings. On 23 April 2022 from 4-5:30 PM ET, the two places cometogetherwhen a select group of poets from the blogosphere present a live reading of their poetry at Poets in the Blogosphere. Most poetry is meant to be read aloud, and hearing poets read their own work is a heightened experience.The event is moderated by Elizabeth Gauffreau. Please register in advance at https://tinyurl.com/Poets-in-the-Blogosphere

#NationalPoetryMonth

#blogpoetsread2022

 

Celebrate National Poetry Month with Elizabeth Gauffreau, Luanne Castle, Serena Agusto-Cox, Ken Gierke, George Franklin, Stephanie L. Harper, Carla McGill, Robert Okaji, and Merril Smith!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

OK, time to go register!!! Hope we see you at the reading! Happy National Poetry Month!!!

https://tinyurl.com/Poets-in-the-Blogosphere

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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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My Review of Julia’s Violinist by Anneli Purchase and Note from the Author

While I rarely write about fiction, I do read a fair amount of the genre. Today I am sharing a review of a unique novel by blogger Anneli Purchase.

The engrossing story Julia’s Violinist, by Anneli Purchase, shows destruction by war through the eyes of one woman and her family. Julia is a Sudeten German, living with three million other ethnic Germans in what is now the Czech Republic. When Hitler’s Germany is defeated, suddenly Julia’s people are vulnerable. At the start of the story, Julia is a young widow with two daughters. Because she is a German woman amongst the Czechs, she is immediately thrust into danger. The Czech military wants to rid the country of the Germans, so they herd them into barracks where they are starved and many women raped. Julia manages to stay with her daughters, her parents, and one sister in the holding facility. She stays strong for the sake of the others, especially her daughters. Eventually Julia and her family move to Germany and from there to Canada.

Before I read this novel, I did not know about Sudetenland or Sudeten Germans, so I knew nothing of their plight when, first they were taken over by the Czechs after WWI, and then their country became Czechoslovakia after WWII. I had assumed that what is now the Czech Republic was always peopled by mainly Czechs. In a similar vein, until more recent years, although my maternal grandmother’s people emigrated from Prussia, I did not realize that Prussia was in what is now Poland or that all the ethnic Germans in Prussia were made to leave their homes after WWII. Their experience was similar to that of the Sudeten Germans.  I have discovered that my accountant was a Sudeten German toddler when his family was made to live in refugee camps, just as Julia lived in the barracks, with little food. He told me that he did not have enough to eat at that age and that it affected his health.

Julia’s Violinist threads a love story throughout the historical tale. Although the story is not chronological, it is told in clearly-identified sections, so it is very easy to understand. This structure places the reader immediately in the dangerous world of post WWII, but then goes back in time to before the war, a time when Julia was just maturing and falling in love with Michael, a violinist, who also loves her. But his father dies as they are to begin courting, and Michael has to take over the family bakery. He has no time for dating. Julia’s life goes off in another direction when she marries and has children. But Michael will come back into her life. Read the book to find out what happens with the star-crossed lovers and to follow the twists and turns in the lives of Julia and her children.

Characters are so well-drawn. Julia is a very likable woman. She’s heroic, but also very human. Some of her decisions can be second-guessed, but considering her circumstances, they are understandable. I particularly admire the development of the complex and less-than-heroic character of Karl. I found myself trying to analyze him as if he were someone I knew in real life. When I finished reading the story, I felt as if I had to leave behind a hometown or community.

Although this is a minor point, the editing of Julia’s Violinist is impeccable, making it a special pleasure to read. Since Anneli Purchase is a professional editor, this makes sense. I am often sidetracked when reading by typos that I can spot at thirty paces, but this book is a smooth read. My deep involvement with the characters and their stories wasn’t broken by distractions.

Whenever I read a book from the perspective of someone from an overlooked group, I learn so much–and this novel is no exception.  I feel privileged to have “met” Julia and her family.

GREAT NEWS. Anneli Purchase is offering a 99 cent sale on Julia’s Violinist and all her other books until the end of December.

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I asked Anneli if she would please talk a bit about Julia’s Violinist. What she told me seems to explain why this book feels so important and so close to the heart of the writer.

When I was growing up, I often helped my mother in the kitchen. As we cooked and baked, my mother talked about “the old days” and I asked her many questions. She told me how the southeast part of Germany she lived in (Sudetenland) suddenly came under Czech rule with the stroke of a pen at the end of WWI. Three million Germans were to be ruled by a Czech government. When WWII came along, these people had hoped to shed the yoke of the oppressors, but as we all know, for better or worse, Germany lost the war.

As a child, I thought that this amazing story was one that happened only to my mother, that she and her family were the only ones who were driven out of their homes. But as I grew up and learned more about history, I realized that this was far more widespread than I had imagined. After the war, with the blessing of the Allies, the victors, especially the Czechs and Russians who had scores to settle, swarmed through Sudetenland, killing and raping thousands, and driving them out of their land.

Before, during, and after these atrocities were committed, the story of Julia takes shape. She is one person, but various versions of her story happened to hundreds of thousands at that time, and therefore, it needed to be told.

The story is fictional, but it is based on a lot of research, and while the personal story of Julia cannot be verified, I have tried to stay true to the historical facts as they happened then, hopefully without prejudice.

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Anneli Purchase has lived and taught in various parts of British Columbia, including the Queen Charlotte Islands and Vancouver Island where she works as an author and a freelance copy-editor. Her articles on coastal life have appeared in Canadian and UK magazines. She has published five novels (The Wind Weeps and its sequel Reckoning Tide, Orion’s Gift, Julia’s Violinist, and Marlie).

Anneli with Emma (as a puppy)

Links

To find out more about Anneli’s novels, you can visit her website:

www.anneli-purchase.com

Anneli’s books will be on sale for 99 cents until the end of December. You can purchase Julia’s Violinist at amazon.com

If you don’t have a Kindle, you can go to smashwords.com for all types of e-reader formats.

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All the happiest or most peaceful or satisfying holidays to you!!!

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Nonfiction Picks from Ellie Presner and Pamela Wight

I’ve been very busy caring for the kitties, especially Felix who requires a lot of meds and supplements and vet visits. But I did manage to write my reviews for the other two nonfiction picks. Click on the book covers to order from Amazon.

Ellie Presner’s memoir Surviving Hollywood North: Crew Confessions from an Insider was a fun fly-on-the-wall read, especially if you recognize some old film/TV that was filmed in Montreal. That is where Hollywood North existed: in Ellie’s hometown of Montreal. Ellie worked as a script coordinator for a decade during the heyday of Montreal’s film industry. Ellie had to be extremely organized, competent, and a grammar expert for this job. I had to laugh when she would assert her opinion over a word choice or idea with an arrogant screenwriter or bigwig. This high stress, fast-paced job seems to have been something Ellie could handle with aplomb, and the necessary adrenaline shines through in the voice of the book. Ellie’s jobs were all temporary because that is how it works in the field. Each job was created by the timeline of the film or of the season. Ellie tells the story of several different jobs, doling out behind the scenes gossip—mainly what she herself experienced or witnessed. Documents from Ellie’s work sprinkle the book, allowing the reader a first-hand look at the work. She also gives examples from her humorous work memos, designed to relieve stress for the staff. My favorite section of the book is her work for actor Patrick MacGoohan who was writing a screenplay for a movie based on his cult classic TV show, The Prisoner. I felt sad with Ellie at the end when she witnessed the last days of “Hollywood North.” You can find Ellie at her blog Crossed Eyes and Dotted Tees

 

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Flashes of Life: True Tales of the Extraordinary Ordinary, by Pamela S. Wight (of roughwighting blog) is a little gem of inspirational very short (flash) stories that explore the divine in everyday life. They remind me a lil bit of the “domestic farce” literature of Jean Kerr, Shirley Jackson, and Erma Bombeck, but more mystical than practical. I suspect because of the piece entitled “How Was Your vacation, Erma?” that Bombeck is a muse for Pam. But Pam’s approach to the material of the day-to-day life of a mom, wife, and grandmother is to look for what lies beyond, rather than in rigorously mining the humorous. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of humor in the book, but I am left more with a sense of awe for the majesty of life. For instance, in “Oxen Mystic,” Pam suffers a nighttime seizure in the bathroom when she’s home alone. Alone, that is, except for her dog Henry. He takes charge of her medical care, licking her and then covering her with his warm body, until she can crawl into bed three hours later. After Henry passes away, Pam still can feel his presence, even hear his “voice” in her ear. The storyteller of Flashes of Life is insightful, gentle, and open to each experience. While the book can be easily read in a couple of sittings and the essays are short, the book occupies a large presence in the heart and mind of the reader long after the last page. You can find Pam at her blog roughwighting.net

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Nonfiction Picks from Joy Neal Kidney and Gwen Wilson

I’ve been reading instead of writing lately. Today I want to share two of the nonfiction books I’ve enjoyed.

Book #1 is biographical and historical nonfiction based on the author’s family history.

A year and a half ago I reviewed Joy Neal Kidney’s nonfiction book Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II. That book opened my eyes to the “home front” during WWII—what the war was like for some American families. Joy’s family, in particular, suffered great loss as three of her grandparents’ sons died in battle.

Joy has a new book out called Leora’s Dexter Stories. The subtitle, “The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression,” gives an idea of what story lies inside. It’s also an understatement. This book uses a variety of sources, such as journals and family stories to piece together a heart-breaking account of the poverty experienced by the Wilson family during the Depression.

Too bad this book can’t be required reading of every American and every student in American schools so that we learn not only what hardships people went through during that time but also how hardworking, clever, and resilient they could be. Our ideas of recycling and repurposing today are a joke compared with what Leora, Clabe, and their children did to survive. For awhile the only thing that kept them from being homeless was when the two oldest sons joined the Navy and sent money home to the family. The family endured criticism and gossip from others because of the need to sometimes be on a form of relief, although they worked very hard as tenant farmers or in other jobs. I managed to hold off crying until daughter Doris, Joy’s mother, an amazing basketball star, had to leave her full-scholarship business college because she couldn’t afford rent. This book is a powerful tribute to the Wilson family.

 You can find Joy here: JOYNEALKIDNEY.COM

Book #2 is a coming-of-age and family dysfunction memoir, set in Australia.

Australian Gwen Wilson, writer of the blog Garrulous Gwendoline, has published a memoir called I Belong to No One. On the cover it also reads: “One woman’s true story of family violence, forced adoption and ultimate triumphant survival.” I wasn’t sure what I would find when I started to read, but I was immediately hooked by Gwen’s storytelling voice. As you might expect from a woman who bills herself on WordPress as “garrulous” and says in the memoir that one of her favorite words is loquacious, Gwen’s voice expertly tells her story and imparts her personality. Her voice is strong, confident, and positive because so is the woman telling the story of her childhood and youth. She also comes across as humble and sincere. This is the successful, mature adult looking back at her upbringing. And while she was clearly always very emotionally strong and generally positive, she was not always confident because the life experiences she went through from a young age tried to grind her down. But Gwen didn’t let them keep her down. Whenever she could catch a lucky break, she would run with it. Finally, she caught one in the form of a job in the shipping world and was able to move forward with her adult life.

Nevertheless, with Gwen’s muscular and straightforward prose, the majority of the story details what she had to overcome. Legally, she was raised by a single, mentally ill mother who was not capable of parenting her. But in reality, Gwen was raised by her older brother Steve and a series of surrogate moms in the form of neighbors, aunts, and friends’ mothers. This patched-together group of “moms” are where Gwen learned how to be a woman. The topics covered from Gwen’s first person perspective include domestic abuse, illegitimacy (in a time when that really mattered), forced adoption, child neglect, poverty, and rape. The rape scene and how it was handled afterward should be mandatory reading for anyone who is unsure of the #metoo movement. It reminds me of how things were when I was young (so we need to remember that we have made some improvements in society and law regarding rape). Gwen truly had nobody to turn to—and no rape crisis centers as they hadn’t been invented yet.

Gwen’s descriptions of her homes and the people in her life are carefully and wonderfully drawn. I find it difficult to move from under the spell of her story and back into my own life. Gwen was born the same year as memoirist Mary Karr. There are similarities in topics, but Australia in the 60s and 70s was much different than the United States. And Gwen had less advantages than Mary Karr had. But anybody who found The Liar’s Club or Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle fascinating will find Gwen’s book just as hard to put down.

I hope to have reviews of a couple more books next week!

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Felix update: First we went through the exact same disappointment at a different ultrasound facility on Tuesday–it was another screw-up and they sent us home. However, the next day he had his ultrasound. It showed a liver tumor, enlarged lymph nodes in his abdomen, and other smaller issues. I haven’t been able to talk to his regular vet after she got a copy of the report but we did speak briefly and hypothetically. It’s unlikely that we will put him through more testing as it would be traumatic to him and probably to no avail. But a decision has not yet been made. If we don’t do more testing, we will provide hospice for him at home. I have started giving him subq fluids (under the skin with a needle) once a day, as well as several meds. The internist who performed the ultrasound was so impressed with Felix’s chill personality. He really is the epitome of a “good boy.”

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Giving Back to Poetry

I’ve been reading more than usual lately. For one thing, all my Ann Cleeves (Vera, Shetland, 2 Rivers) books on the wait list at the library have been coming available. Then I’ve got a few fiction and nonfiction books I’m rarin’ to read. Additionally, I’m reading a couple of brand new poetry books that I plan to review for journals or this blog. The best way to  understand a poetry collection, for me, is to prepare for writing a review. So reviewing is actually a benefit to me, not just to the poet who wrote the collection.

Something new that I am starting to do is to read the new issues of journals that are emailed to me. It’s not that I didn’t read any of them before, but sometimes I would hit delete if I felt like I had too much going on and plenty to read. But I’ve decided that that is not good because without all these wonderful lit journals a lot of writers, including myself, would be screwed. Then I am choosing one of my favorite pieces from the journal and sharing it on social media.

I have a belief that underlies these endeavors. Too many poets (I can’t speak for creative nonfiction and fiction writers because I know a lot more poets) are so involved with their own writing or maybe the writing of their “big star” inspirations that they do not put enough back into the poetry community. Of course, I include myself in this number.  There are certainly plenty of exceptions to this phenomenon, including the work that lit mag editors and small press editors and owners do, especially those that continue long past the “it will help my career” period. Two special names that immediately spring to mind when I think of helping the poetry community are Trish Hopkinson  whose website is a treasure for poets and Neil Silberblatt who runs the Facebook group Voices of Poetry. I’ve talked about Diane Lockward’s craft books on here several times. Her books, monthly newsletter, and press (Terrapin) are all important to the poetry community. In fact, she has a new craft book coming out soon. It’s called The Strategic Poet. I’m super blessed to have a poem in the tome (that rhyme is how you can tell I’m a poet hahahaha). The poem is called “After the Call from the Animal Welfare Office: A Triple Triolet,” and it’s a response to a horrific cat hoarding situation in Phoenix last year.

There are many more poetry helpers, too. The work that I am doing for the community is miniscule compared to that of others, but I am trying to keep #poetrycommunity at the forefront of my decisions as much as possible.

Let’s make it a great week ahead!

 

 

 

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