Category Archives: #writerslife

Up to My Cat Ears

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Yes, I’ve been up to my kitty ears with kittens and cats this week. Eight of them. Yesterday, the two smart little hamsters kittens went home with their fully vacationed parents. The two senior cats will be living with us indefinitely. More on those two later. For now, I am exhauserbated.

Callie and Zona, bonded forever
These girls loved the app “Mouse for Cats” on my ipad.

Here’s a link to preorder my new book Rooted and Winged. https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/rooted-and-winged-by-luanne-castle/

I will donate $5 to Liberty Wildlife in Phoenix for each preorder if you let me know and give me your email address for a donation email from LW.

Going to try to catch up on work and blog-reading this week, so I’m closing comments. Make it a good week!

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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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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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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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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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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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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Who Are Those Matching Ladies, Mommy?

Continue reading

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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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