Category Archives: Writing

SUMMER SPOTLIGHT: LUANNE CASTLE — Jill Weatherholt

Jill Weatherholt has been so kind to interview me for her blog! Please join us over there!

What is special about the place you grew up? The places of my childhood are always with me although I live almost 2000 miles away. I grew up in Kalamazoo County, which is in southwest Michigan. There are 101 inland lakes in the county alone, and we were not far from Lake Michigan. My mother’s […]

via SUMMER SPOTLIGHT: LUANNE CASTLE — Jill Weatherholt

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Filed under Blogging, Book promotion, Family history, Flash Nonfiction, Interview, Kin Types, Memoir, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Writing

A Spotted Jumping Dog



I really want to thank the bloggers who have had me over to visit or talked about Kin Types: Carla at Writing Customs, Marie at 1WriteWay, Merril at Yesterday and Today, Robert at O at the Edges, and Adrienne at Middlemay Books.  You guys (y’all, youse) really know the meaning of collaboration in this whole writing and chatting thing we do. I treasure all of you.

If you missed any of those posts, just click the links above.

And, above all, take a peek at my cute granddog, Theo. Isn’t he adorable?

And you thought I only do cats? In fact, Theo is the spitting image of my last dog, Sandy, although Theo has large brown spots on his skin that are visible through his thin blond fur. And Theo’s legs are longer so that he can jump on the counter-heighth table (taller than a regular kitchen table). Which he does. All the time.

But he’ll learn. He had a hard life on the streets of Indio before son and ND rescued him.

Now his life is hard, but only in that he has to live with two great cats who are not as naughty as Theo.

If you are wondering about Prince Perry Winkle, he is now officially the most affectionate cat ever.

I haven’t been writing, but I have been starting to organize for book promoting and spending time with Perry because I had to go to California this past week for work. I hope to get things under control this week and then get back to writing again. I keep trying, folks.

How about you? What are you trying to get under control?

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Filed under Book promotion, California, Cats and Other Animals, Kin Types, Writing

Family Histories: Kin Types by Luanne Castle

Adrienne at Middlemay Books allowed me the opportunity to guest post about family history, a subject close to my heart and that of Kin Types! Thank you so much, Adrienne.

Nothing Gilded, Nothing Gained-Period Drama on Paper at Middlemay Farm

Welcome to Family Histories, a series of guest posts by some of my favorite bloggers in which they explore family . . . and history. The families and the histories are sometimes the writers’ own and sometimes not.

This weekLuanne Castle discusses how the exploration of family history has enriched her creative life:

By combining a passion for family history with my creative writing, I felt able to—for a brief moment—inhabit the lives of women and men from previous generations and imagine how their stories felt to them.

Family history as done by genealogy buffs only interested in filling in the dates and places of lineal ancestors miss the point. Everybody has ancestors. What becomes fascinating is that by recreating and listening to the stories of previous generations, we learn from the experiences of those who have lived on Earth before us.

Family history is a messy, complicated, and…

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Filed under Book promotion, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Family history, Flash Nonfiction, History, Inspiration, Kin Types, Memoir, Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Research and prep for writing, Writing, Writing Talk

Sunday Compulsion: Luanne Castle (Why I Write) — O at the Edges

Thank you to Robert Okaji for interviewing me for his beautiful poetry blog. He made me think about one of the hard questions . . . .

Welcome to “Sunday Compulsion,” in which creatives answer one question: Why do I create? Here’s poet Luanne Castle: When I pondered why I write, my mind flipped the question to why I don’t write during so many fallow periods. There have been so many reasons over the years: school, work, social life, teaching, raising kids. It’s not that I […]

via Sunday Compulsion: Luanne Castle (Why I Write) — O at the Edges

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Filed under #AmWriting, Family history, Inspiration, Kin Types, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Poetry reading, Writing, Writing Talk

You Should Probably Read This: Kin Types

If you read Merril’s blog you know that she’s a historian and a poet. Here’s Merril’s first reaction to KIN TYPES. (Thanks, Merril!)

Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

So–this arrived last night. I left it on the kitchen table, and I just started reading it–you know, leafing through it the way one does–and I got sucked in. I had to force myself to put it down because I have work to do. It is a powerful, lyrical mixture of poetry and prose, tragic accounts of everyday life–stories from her family history. Well, at least that’s what I’ve read so far. I’ll return for more in a bit.

OK, back to work now!

Luanne Castle is an award-winning poet. You can read more about her here.

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Filed under Book Review, Family history, Flash Nonfiction, History, Kin Types, Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Writing

New-ish Cat and Brand New Book

I had a couple of requests for a Perry update, so as tough (hahaha) as it is to write about him, here it is.

We’ve moved way beyond the “give me your paw” trick. His next move was to head butt my face and rub against me when I was on the floor to feed him.

Soon after, he indicated he wanted me to scratch his cheeks. Then pet his sides and the length of his tail.

Now he has added in a squishy and slobbery nose rub and even a little kiss-kiss.

He also keeps rolling on his back and trying to get me to pet his stomach, but with those “natural length” claws of his, I am not that stupid. Gotta get those nails trimmed somehow, but I don’t want to spook him and have a setback.

My son and ND (new daughter or, as some would have it, daughter-in-law) gave me the sweetest little instant camera for my birthday. It doesn’t take the place of my iPhone camera, of course, but I can snap a cute pic of a cat and put the photo into a little frame within a minute. Those little pet frames always beg tiny pix, so these are just right at 2″ or so. I’ve been learning how to use it, and Perry is the model.

My first attempt with the instant camera: I had to learn to use the little buttons

Today is the day I have to take Perry’s poo in for the final check in the deworming process. If it’s negative, I plan to be paranoid and do it again in another week or two. That is because the first time I had it checked, it was negative and then look what I’ve gone through because that was just a lull in the worm cycle. Ugh.

If it’s negative, we put the gate up at the bedroom door so the cats can meet. I’ll try to feed him on one side of the gate another couple of cats on the other side–at the same time. Over the gate I will hang a sheet. That is enough for most cats: gate and sheet and they think they are stuck in there.

Kana and Perry did have a little meeting the other night though. The hall outside Perry’s bedroom was so dark I couldn’t see anything and when I opened the door, suddenly there were two cats in the bedroom! I thought I was seeing double. But Perry was running away and Kana was sniffing Perry’s toys. I picked up Kana, and she managed to graze her teeth on my hand because she was unhappy in the extreme to be removed. What a stinker. She is the trouble-maker of the house, for sure. That is why when I go away, she has to go into her bedroom for the duration. That’s ok, it’s my office and it is the nicest room in the house IN MY OPINION.

Since Perry is in the bedroom all the time, I have certain times of the day I spend with him. My daughter shipped me her old laptop so I can get some work done while I’m in with him.

Probably because he is young, Perry loves his dolls. Sometimes his teeth or claws start holes in the dolls and I have to take them away or stitch them, but that is just him loving them ;).

I’m not used to having a cat so young. It’s been many years since 17-year-old Pear was that young! Perry likes to shred tissues and other paper. That ought to be great when he’s got the run of the house with all our business and writing paper lying about (yikes).

 

I noticed the other day that Perry is now filling out. I suspect that means that the worms are gone and that he is absorbing his food better. He’s going to be a fairly large long-haired cat. And now that I am petting him, I can verify that his fur is super soft!

Perry and an interactive doll:

There was a speck on the lens that shows up in the video. Does anybody know how to remove something like that through Windows Movie Maker?

 

 

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KIN TYPES IS NOW AVAILABLE AT AMAZON! Copies should be arriving soon (I hope)!

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Filed under Cats and Other Animals, Family history, Kin Types, Lifestyle, Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Writing

Time Warp

We’re back from a trip to Michigan. Mom had heart surgery in Grand Rapids at the heart center, and she did so well she was out of the hospital in 48 hours! So we were able to bring her back to Kalamazoo and get her set up at home. This was really a medical miracle because she had a 6th stent put in and a new heart valve without having to undergo open heart surgery. I am not impressed easily by modern medicine (though I probably should be), but this knocked my socks off.

While she was in the hospital, the gardener and I went for a drive one day and visited both Saugatuck and Holland. We really wanted to stare at Lake Michigan, so when we saw the sign in Saugatuck we started walking.

Walking without asking. Now, mind you, I have a reconstructed foot. This was a rare surgery done because of damage by a rare tumor. So even though I almost always wear my orthotic-adorned New Balances, I never know when the foot will start to hurt like crazy and I will have to stop walking.

Before we had gone too far I asked a woman who was passing by how long the trail was. “About a half mile,” she said. “But it’s very hilly.”

Yes, ma’am, it was very hilly. But it warn’t no half mile.

I looked it up afterward. 2.5 miles each way. HEH

I was lucky that my foot didn’t seem to mind and see where we ended up.

Worth it? MUCH.

A beach and a view with very few people.

After that we drove to Holland because the gardener had an antique store to check out, and I wanted to visit Windmill Island as I had as a kid.

Back to my Dutch roots ;).

These shoes would need some magical orthotics for me to wear them haha.

We found a restaurant the gardener could eat in without worry. Celiacs note: Persian restaurants are the next best thing to completely gluten free restaurants! Usually, only the bread, desserts, and a few appetizers have gluten.

Chicken koobideh and a rice dish with barberries.

My mother looked great after her surgery, and the only real hitch was when the discharge nurse told mom she can’t drive for a certain period of time. That made her really unhappy. Next day, she said she wanted blueberries from the blueberry farm. Which, of course, was way out in the country. And we had lots of errands and chores to get her settled in. She even pouted/whined a bit. “I can’t drive myself there.” Sniff sniff.

So we took her. When I walked inside, the smell of blueberries was overpowering. She bought 5 pounds and gave my brother and sister-in-law some of them.

The blueberries seem blurry, and I don’t know why. But we also walked around the farm a bit to give mom some exercise.

Yup, that’s me driving the tractor.

Last year we had Mom’s retirement community plant a plum tree in my father’s memory. We used to have a plum tree in our backyard growing up and Dad would take a pic every so often–as it grew and as we grew. So a plum tree seemed right.

The tree is on the outskirts of a woods that abuts the retirement community. The gardener drove us in Mom’s golf cart through the woods.

When we came out of the woods we saw the beautiful gardens planted by the residents of the community. Flowers and vegetables–so lovely.

It was also my birthday on the day we took my mother home from the hospital. My uncle, my dad’s twin, did what he did last year: called to sing “Happy Birthday” to me. That’s what my father used to do every year we were apart. I love that my uncle is carrying on the tradition.

The gardener and I checked out a few of our old houses, visited his parents’ graves (Dad’s is not in town and there wasn’t time), and appreciated the wild flowers (Queen Anne’s Lace, Chicory, Day Lilies, Ironweed). We left Kalamazoo 27 years ago, and at our last house, we noticed that they still have the same drapes in the living room. That was astonishing because those drapes were actually hung 32 years ago, and they are made of massive amounts of off-white sheers. I can’t imagine them lasting this long. But what I do remember is how much work I put into designing them and finding someone to make them–and how much I loved them! I wrote a poem about them and put it in the portfolio of poems I submitted to Western Michigan University for my application to the MFA program. The last stanza goes like this:

Through shadowed glass,

with guarded eyes,

my neighbors wait

for me to swoop my fingers

through the sheer

and clutch the volume

to my chest.

The poem is called “New Drapes,” though these are far from new, and none of the neighbors could still live there any more. Just one of the many time warp experiences I had.

And so it goes.

 

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Filed under Family history, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Food & Drink, History, Lifestyle, Liminality, Nonfiction, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing

Like a Mourning Dove

This is a hectic month, so I need to slow down my blogging for a few more days. But I’ll be back soon.

In the meantime, here are two sweet baby mourning doves.

 

If I Could Mourn Like A Mourning Dove
by Frank Bidart
It is what recurs that we believe,
your face not at one moment looking
sideways up at me anguished orelate, but the old words welling up by
gravity rearranged:
two weeks before you died in pain worn out, after my usual casual sign-off
with All my love, your simple
solemn My love to you, Frank.

If you don’t know the work of Frank Bidart, you might want to check him out. Here is a bio and selected bibliography from poets.org:

Frank Bidart was born in Bakersfield, California on May 27, 1939 and educated at the University of California at Riverside and at Harvard University, where he was a student and friend of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop.

His first volume of poetry, Golden State (G. Braziller, 1973), was selected by poet Richard Howard for the Braziller Poetry series, but it wasn’t until the publication of The Sacrifice (Random House, 1983) that Bidart’s poetry began to attract a wider readership. Bidart’s early books are collected in In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965-90 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1990).

His recent volumes include Metaphysical Dog: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013); Watching the Spring Festival: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008); Star Dust (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005); Music Like Dirt (Sarabande Books, 2002); and Desire (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award. He is also the co-editor of Robert Lowell’s Collected Poems(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003).

About his work, the former U.S. Poet Laureate Louise Glück has said, “More fiercely, more obsessively, more profoundly than any poet since Berryman (whom he in no way resembles) Bidart explores individual guilt, the insoluble dilemma.” And about his career as a poet, she said, “Since the publication, in 1973, of Golden State, Frank Bidart has patiently amassed as profound and original a body of work as any now being written in this country.”

His honors include the Wallace Stevens Award, the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Foundation Writer’s Award, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award given by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Shelley Award of the Poetry Society of America, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and The Paris Review‘s first Bernard F. Conners Prize for “The War of Vaslav Nijinsky” in 1981. In 2007, he received the Bollingen Prize in American Poetry.

Bidart was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2003. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he has taught at Wellesley College since 1972.


Selected Bibliography

Metaphysical Dog: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013)
Watching the Spring Festival: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008)
Star Dust (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005)
Music Like Dirt (Sarabande Books, 2002)
Desire (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997)
In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965-90 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1990)
The Sacrifice (Random House, 1983)
Golden State (G. Braziller, 1973)

See you soon, peeps!

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Filed under Blogging, Cats and Other Animals, Poetry, Writing

Little Shoes

The other day the gardener and I were in California, on a solidly packed freeway, and a truck that pulled ahead of us on the right drew my attention. Hanging out of the back, one on each side, were two bundles of children’s shoes. They were strung together by a rope or perhaps laces, and they looked a bit like little herb pots hanging on the wall.

What I thought: they are shoes without the children.

These were not shoes being transported somewhere, but rather a decoration to the truck itself. The trailer portion of the truck was smallish, but not too small, and without windows.

Maybe somebody would look at those shoes and think how cool it was that a dad was hauling mementos of his children around. I, on the other hand, immediately thought of serial killers and their trophies.

I shouldn’t let my mind loose sometimes, especially since I prefer the lighter side of life.

At home, I dug out my own kids’ outgrown shoes for a little throw-back mama time:

Did they not have the sweetest little shoes? The print canvas shoes my son loved to show off, and the red Chinese shoes he wore with a white turtleneck and black velveteen pants with suspenders to his legal adoption (a few hours after he fell off the bed and cracked his head between his eyes ugh). My daughter’s little “running shoes” with pink interiors, and the white Mary Janes she wore to her special naming ceremony. The rubber Korean shoes sent with my children when they arrived from Korea. Lots of memories there.

Then I took a look at somebody else’s memories. My mother-in-law’s collection of the gardener’s out-grown shoes.

Because I wasn’t around when he wore these shoes, they hold no memories for me. Because they hold no memories I am free to create stories in my head. Kinda like I did when I saw the shoes hanging off the back of the truck.

Writing question: do you think it’s easier to write fiction if you have information but not specific memories? Or do memories feed your fiction?

Blogging question: when you’re writing non-fiction do you ever have leaps of imagination that try to send you into fiction? Like embellishment or even creating fictional stories for your blog?

I am going to close comments for this post, but I hope these questions give you something to think about for today!

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The poetry reading went well. It was a very small crowd because it’s summer in Phoenix (imagine that!), and many were gone or found it too hot. But I had a lot of fun, met some new people, and what a sweet little art gallery with coffee bar.

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Filed under Blogging, California, Family history, History, Inspiration, Nonfiction, Vintage American culture, Writing, Writing Talk

Reading from Doll God and Kin Types

If you happen to be in the Phoenix area this Friday, please come hang out with me at {9} The Gallery! There will be an open mic, and then I will read from Doll God and Kin Types. I’ll have copies of Doll God to sign for a discounted price of $10 (regular $14).

Link to info: Caffeine Corridor Poetry feat. Luanne Castle

This series is pulled together by the wonderful Phoenix poet Shawnte Orion.

Let’s hope I don’t screw up too badly.

Make it a great week!

 

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Filed under Arizona, Book promotion, Doll God, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Poetry reading, Reading, Writing, Writing Talk