Tag Archives: poetry book

Book Giveaway: Win a Free Copy of Doll God!

TODAY!!! A free copy of Doll God awaits the first 3 people!

This is just a quick “stop by” during my break to announce that MaryGold’s four adventures have been posted on my Facebook page and on Twitter.

They were announced on March 13, 17, 20, and yesterday (25).

Write to me at writersitewordpress[at]gmail.com and tell me what her 4 adventures are to win a free book!!

I will be back next week. I’m missing y’all and can’t wait to be back!!!!

 

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Filed under Book contest, Book Giveaway, Books, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection

My Plan to Lure Hubby to More Rescue Cats

We have a winner for the name of the Doll God doll! She is to be called MaryGold, named by the mysterious John Janssens. So apropos, considering she was cavorting with marigolds in the photo. Second place is Violet, suggested by the charming Seyi Sandra, who writes the lovely blog Seyi Sandra David: A Writer with a Difference. Third place The other second place is Flavia, a name Mareymercy mentioned. She was so surprised to see the name do so well. She takes some amazing photographs she shares on her blog.

Taking the advice of a blogger who wrote about Goodreads, I have set up a Book Giveaway which begins today and ends on Monday. Of course, as with any new (to me) site, I’m a little unclear as to exactly when today and exactly when Monday. To be on the safe side, I would recommend entering the contest by Sunday! Let me know if you enter and how the experience was for you. And good luck to you!

ENTER TO WIN A FREE BOOK

Doll God by Luanne Castle

Doll God

by Luanne Castle

Giveaway ends January 26, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

On another note (and hence the blog title), Monday afternoon hubby and I visited a local no kill animal shelter to deliver the diabetic food and insulin we didn’t use for our oldest cat Mac. With the help of our vet, we went a different path for Mac because of his many medical issues. We are treating him with a different diet instead of insulin. I found a shelter that has a cat named Randy who is diabetic and can use the hundreds of dollars of food and insulin I bought and didn’t use!

By bringing hubby I had a method to my madness. He’s in semi-retirement, which means he still works a lot at home, but doesn’t get out much. He’s also “down” about how business (something he loves and is very talented at) has changed for the worse in so many ways. But he loves cats. When we got inside the shelter, I said, “Do you have a social room for cats here?”

“Sure, it’s right this way. I’ll show you!” She was very eager. Of course, she was. But so was I.

Many of their cats were off at places like PetSmart, looking cute and hopeful, no doubt, from within their glass cubicles. But there were a few left behind. We were greeted at the door by the impressive and friendly tabby known as The Mayor–named for his way of greeting everyone! The room was decorated like a nursery school playroom with fun equipment and toys. A tiny orange kitten sat alone in a big cage, blinking at me and hoping I would take him home (sorry, I can’t add to my cats right now, little buddy). They had a few long shelves with clean towels and blankets and a black and white cat slept behind some of the blankets. We peeked in to see her. She stretched at us. Another cat slept on a cat tree, too exhausted to visit with people who only stopped in for a second.

As we walked to the door, I said, “Do you need volunteers to hang with the cats?”

Yes, they do need those humans. The cats need to be socialized–to hear human voices, smell human smells, and feel human touch. What better people to do that than us? I am dragging hubby (reluctant, but not opposed) to the volunteer orientation in February. Stay tuned.

This is the man who, when we found our first cat, said, “I don’t do cats. Just dogs.”  Hahahahaha. Famous last words.

On a related note:

Have you heard about cat cafes? They might have started in Japan, where apartments for young singles typically do not allow pets. People can go to the cat cafe, have a beverage, and play with cats! There seem to be some in the U.S., too, and you can adopt a cat from there, after making sure the two of you are a good match.

Plenty of apartments in Phoenix allow cats, so I doubt one could make a business out of a cat cafe here. But one could certainly make a charity out of it, right? Of course, that sounds like a LOT of work, so I think volunteering at the shelter once or twice a week would be something we could handle right now.

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Filed under Books, Doll God, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing

Searching for Angels

Woohoo! My book is available. (Where’s that champagne bottle again? Empty?)

Since Doll God is now up on Amazon here, I thought I would tell you a little more about the collection. Here is the full description:

Luanne Castle’s debut poetry collection, Doll God, studies traces of the spirit world in human-made and natural objects–a Japanese doll, a Palo Verde tree, a hummingbird. Her exploration leads the reader between the twin poles of nature and creations of the imagination in dolls, myth, and art.

From the first poem, which reveals the child’s wish to be godlike, to the final poem, an elegy for female childhood, this collection echoes with the voices of the many in the one: a walking doll, a murderer, Snow White. Marriage, divorce, motherhood, and family losses set many of the poems in motion. The reader is transported from the lakes of Michigan to the Pacific Ocean to the Sonoran Desert.

These gripping poems take the reader on a journey through what is found, lost, or destroyed. The speaker in one poem insists, “I am still looking for angels.” She has failed to find them yet keeps searching on. She knows that what is lost can be found.

Doll God promo cover

It’s really hard to describe your own book! Seriously. I wrote the above description, but it seemed agonizing to do so. After all that work crafting those three little paragraphs, you better believe I’m going to use it ;).

If you’re so inclined to buy Doll God and see what I’ve spent so much time on for the past 20 years, I will be thrilled to hear how the poems make you feel. Because above all, poems should be felt as a sensation or series of sensations.

I was so blessed to get pre-publication reviews from some absolutely stellar poets and writers. Although Stuart Dybek is most well-known as one of the most important short story writers of the time, he began his writing career as a poet and has published two poetry collections, in addition to many other books.  Matthew Lippman and Caroline Goodwin are highly successful and absolutely wonderful poets. Their styles couldn’t be more dissimilar, and yet they both write exquisite poetry. You can find these blurbs on the back of Doll God.

“Every day the world subtracts from itself,” Luanne Castle observes.  Her wonderfully titled collection, Doll God, with its rich and varied mix of poems part memoir, part myth and tale, shimmers as it swims as poetry is meant to, upstream against the loss.

Stuart Dybek, MacArthur Fellow and author of Streets in Their Own Ink

 

In her haunting first collection, Luanne Castle has created a space where “the sounds/of the schoolchildren/and the traffic/grind down/to nothing” and where the reader is invited to experience the lasting echo of our primal human past. Who makes our toys, and why? Which toys and in whose likeness?  With startling imagery and a keen eye for the subtler shapes of violence and redemption, Castle asks us to consider and re-consider these questions. Like a “world of broken mirrors waiting” the poems call us back to ourselves, our childhoods, and the potential rewards of prayer and reflection. I find both hope and despair in these pages, where “every day the world subtracts from itself and nothing/is immune,” and every object contains a voice and a story. This is a fierce and beautiful book.

Caroline Goodwin, author of Trapline

 

Luanne Castle’s new collection, Doll God, is sublime.  The manner of these poems– that they embrace the doll and bring to it humanity and divinity–is something to behold.  The voice in these poems is tender, visceral, and wonderfully human.  Ms. Castle has forged a vision that feels like something you want to dance with, dress up, talk to like a child, but with an adult’s sensibility.  I love these poems with my whole heart because they make me feel both childlike and grown, simultaneously.  Doll mistresses, primordial conches, Barbies, infuse these poems with tremendous humanity, and they delight with purpose, sadness and joy, and an incredible range that will leave you breathless.

Matthew Lippman, author of American Chew

I’m so nervous and so excited for you to read my book. I hope you like it. Better yet, I hope some of the poems resonate with you and your life.

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Filed under Books, Doll God, Dolls, Essay, Nonfiction, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Writing

Break Out, Go Ahead and Do It: Part II

Last week I introduced you to indigenous poet Carol Bachofner. She has published four excellent books of poetry. Check out her poetry! Part I can be found here.

In Part II, learn Carol’s original process for writing “something else” sonnets. Don’t know what those are? Read ahead . . . .

by guest blogger, poet Carol Bachofner

A poem Carol wrote that illustrates the breaking out she discusses

 Why Hang Out in Bookstores; a something else sonnet

There are other ways to take on the sonnet form and make it serve a different purpose. I recently had another breakthrough, courtesy of an unwitting Sherman Alexie. Visiting our daughter and her family in Seattle, I had one non-family wish of the trip: to spend some quantity and quality time at Elliott Bay Books, alone. I always make a beeline to the poetry section of any bookstore to see what’s new that I might not have seen at home. I found two books that really got my attention, my sustained attention. The first book is The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry (ed. Gary L. McDowell and F. Daniel Rzicznek, 2010) and the other is Alexie’s latest poetry collection, What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned (Hanging Loose Press, 2014). These book finds changed my view of prose poetry. Utterly changed. DRAT!!! Just when I was getting comfortable again! But it is why we hang out in bookstores, to be changed.

I confess that previously I have eschewed prose poetry, claiming loudly to all who would listen that this alleged form is nonexistent. Why do I do that? My literary protestations almost always lead to changing my mind about what I am avoiding or rejecting. On this particular lovely fall day in Seattle I was to be challenged yet again. I would have to face the fact that this form is real, to accept the fact that if Sherman Alexie was writing in this so-called “form,” I would have to see why. I was, from that moment, on the fast track to writing one or more prose poems myself. How could this happen? Prose was always prose and poetry always poetry. I was SURE of that. Until now. As a narrative writer, I knew I was always straddling the two worlds, but I knew somehow where the borders were. and I did not think those borders were crossable.

Where the breakthrough came for me was somewhere in the middle of Alexie’s book, the place where he starting labeling poems as “sonnet” when they clearly looked like prose to me. Have you ever become aware of a slight manic buzzing in your head when you are about to discover something new for yourself, ready to disembark from the safe ship of your life and wobble on the dock? I could feel myself getting hot all over, hearing the buzz, and feeling a twitch in my left eye. Uh-oh.

I tried to find where in his “sonnets” there was something sonnet. What I found was a “something else sonnet,” a combination of prose and poetry that spoke to me. Loudly. Profoundly. He was laying it out in a way that seemed properly improper. No worries over rhyme scheme (have you ever balked at the use of “scheme” as if it is some kind of a trick?) and no worries about where to break a line or where to put the turn or whether to put a turn at all. Instead of 14 clearly defined lines, he dared to make 14 segments of thought, of wondering, of action. Yes, 14 segments that said something without restriction. Oh my. Oh dear. Oh my. I had to try this.

Suddenly I was writing prose that felt more like poetry to me than anything I’d written in a while. Suddenly I was writing poetry that seemed more real, more honest. I was wobbling on the dock and dying to jump off and swim.

Then the inevitable questions for myself began flooding in. What was going to be MY take on this? How would I make something as real as Alexie, without being a poser, a fake, a phoney? It wouldn’t be easy to adapt my previous thinking to this new thing I’d so long rejected. But I knew I was comfortable with sonnets. I was comfortable with every aspect of sonnets. I was also very comfortable with narrative. So there. I had to jump.

At first I thought this meant I could just freewheel it, abandon all traditional aspects of the sonnet. But I had no desire to just throw myself into a sort of “freefall abyss.” I took a few deep breaths and began thinking of what parts of sonnets I might use to my purposes and how far into prose I wanted to venture. The more I pondered, the more one thought came to me: with the skills I possess as a poet, as a somewhat-formalist, I can combine prose and the sonnet, one of poetry’s most lasting forms and make something new for myself.

As I waded out into the deeper waters of form deconstruction, I felt a bit like an inventor. The process I devised is a basic guideline, a first way in. I chose to meld prose and the sonnet form in a way that was different but felt at least a little familiar. I needed my own process to serve as an entrance. Here is my initial process, one I have now abandoned as I continue to grow comfortable with this new “something else sonnet” form.

A Process Toward Writing a “Something Else Sonnet”

1. I decided to go by way of strong words, nouns and verbs. I elected to choose 14 nouns that are somewhat thematically connected. The words I chose are all words of restriction and stoppage and alienation. My theme (loose) is that of being held back or cordoned off from love. You will see my words in bold in the example below.

2. I set off in a direction, toward a theme or idea. I figured I could always reset my direction if the initial attempt was a wild goose chase. I did reset a couple times, but did not fully abandon the original impetus or word list.

3. I chose to follow Alexie in numbering each section (and in using sections or fragments rather than anything approaching lineation. After all, this was PROSE poetry. Beginning with the number 1, using what I determined to be the “best” word from my list of words, I created the first section/fragment.

4. At the place in that first bit of thought where my mind felt a bit like jumping, I put a period and wrote the number 2. After that I let myself leap (free association is the thing here) and used another word from the list. I found it helpful to cross off each word used to make sure I used all fourteen.

5. Repeating this process, paying no attention at all to where numbers landed, I wrote the whole poem as a paragraph with parts. Remember that any numbered portion may contain more than one sentence or fragment. It may be a bit self-contained with one major leap or it may slide into a transition as the piece nears its end, making the next leap smoother.

6. I also began to consider that I might keep going after number 14 and run the poem onward a bit, ending with a rhymed couplet; I did do this in the example below. I wondered as I wrote whether the poem wanted a somewhat traditional volta and where. In the example below, I came to see that the poem wanted to pivot a bit at line./section 9, a pretty traditional thing for a nontraditional sonnet.

NOTE: In the following example, I have bolded the nouns from my word list; these do not remain bolded outside of this example.

Love is Monstrous(ly) Wonderful(ly) Bordered, a prose sonnet

1. Natural barriers could be the colors of love, red lips shine, bruise-blue or some psychedelic bursts of argument hues at the edge of love’s known world. 2. Sterile areas pop up like rabbits. You want to go there to be safe, to be gravid with love. 3. Ditches burrow themselves into sidewalks where lovers pace, submerge to begin their travel along wrist-like veins recently scissored open in desperation. 4. You can achieve closure that way. Real closure. The slamming of the garden gate on too-rusted hinges made furious by rain. The door-bang of a car, locking itself with the keys still in the ignition. You learn how to leave and how to stay. 5. Love opens and closes on everyone eventually, even if no one hears it happening. Love maintains its elastic geography this way. 6. You cannot escape into a security zone to avoid it. 7. Even though you don’t recognize it, your heart is a sovereign state. 8. It has a seam-line of tissue paper tears. Rain will open up in it, open you eventually. 9. You’ll soon be seen at the checkpoint, tourist visa in your breast pocket, flashlight between your teeth. 10. You will head back to the colors of love and sketches you made of it at the blockade. It’s a secret. It is invincible ink. 11. Cruelty is the killing ground. 12. Vault over its borders. Ping between love and its doppelgänger. 13. Roadblock ahead! Drive. Run. 14. Decide to burn down the separation fence. 15. This is what you need to know about love and disaster, about a heart full of tacks. 16. Once you fill your suitcase, you get the monster off your back.

So, let’s review what has happened here that makes this a sonnet:

1. 14 somethings + couplet
2. volta at or near section 9. — of note: key words/phrases of the turn include checkpoint, head back
3. rhymed couplet at the end (though not metrical, it is musical)

We can see what makes this a sonnet and what makes this prose as well. The narrative is sacrosanct in the form, the combining of two forms. It is a hybrid that works well for me as a storyteller and poet. I owe it all to my obsession with hanging out in bookstores. Here is another example of story preserved as a brief prose poem, a sonnet that defies the usual end-rhymed final couplet. Find the turn, if any. Ask what makes this prose piece a sonnet.

Living On, a prose sonnet

1. From a waterfall 12 feet straight down, into 2 feet of water 2. Swept off like leaves ready to die. 3. Never thought about death then. Never thought about life then. All the same to me. 4. Carried to safety by a Paiute, slung sack on his back. Now a piece of him, he’s me too just that way; how I think of it. Carry me, I carry you. 5. The tee shirt he stripped from his back I wear as he wore me. American Indian Dance Theater. 6. I dance. I sway and stomp like the wind trees or the river that caught me. 7. Live on or die. 8. Be Indian. Be not Indian. You don’t get to decide. 9. If you break a bone, pray for all other bones. You will heal 4 people that way. 10. One of them will heal you. 11. The river didn’t want to feel so empty that day. 12. Wanted to fill itself with something that needed healing. 13. Indian Canyon ceremony, sweat running like the river. 14. Grandmothers and Grandfathers yielding to the fire. Me — natal, naked, and ready to live on.

From the Body, sonnets also shall emerge

Recently someone posted a meme on Facebook that was a pun in picture form, a line drawing of a human hip, with the caption: Hip Poetry. A child of the 60s, it tickled me to see this punning of the phrase Hip Poetry. Thinking of the beat poets, I wanted to do something creative in response to the meme, so I decided a contemporary prose sonnet to honor the beauty of the structure of the body, while keeping the humor of the drawing and its caption. I went with a beginning section that began the combination of bone and tone. I allowed myself to flex my verbal musculature and pun, rhyme a little (final couplet), and use marks of punctuation [brackets] wherever that felt organic, seemed to fit. I even included a line from a satire album from the 60s (see section 6). The pure pleasure I derived from creating this sonnet, this prose thing, is immeasurable. I hope you enjoy it too.

Poetry From the Hip, a prose sonnet

1. It’s a body thing, a guts and sinew and bone thing. No one comes to poetry without a body on fire. Flames of language consume the muscle, jerk the nerves, hum in the skull. 2. It’s the hip, that ball and socket controller, that swing along the sidewalk of metrics action, that bend at the, flex at the, sit right down and write it creation that lets it all roll along to conclusion or to an opening at the end. 3. Imagine no hip. No swishing skirts or petticoats, no rhumba or cha-cha-cha to inspire the words of love that pour onto the page, that plunge the poet into despair over loss of. Love pivots on such bones. Love poems pivot on them too. 4. Shoot from the [hip]. Be [hip]. [Hip] [Hip] hooray on the page or off into the air above the page. [Hip]ster, gangster, lover, mime, or magician. 5. [Hip] is your tour de force. 6. This is your hippy-dippy weather man, with the weather, Man 7. Whether or not. 8. Lines of poems hang from hip to hip, like bedsheets with secrets from old lovers. 9. Say lip [service or stick]. 10. Trip [up] or [the light fantastic]. 11. Ship [shape] or [out] and flip the switch to poems without secrets. 12. Secrets die like flies in winter when you turn on the lights. 13. It’s a body thing, a guts and sinew and bone thing. 14. Write it all, let it all, from the hip … swing.

Break Out… out there from here

Just as my last book, Native Moon, Native Days, was a departure from the regional, nature-oriented poems of the previous two collections, my newly-submitted manuscript is a departure. It is structure-oriented rather than topical, regional, or overtly ethnic. It contains an array of what seems to me to be like stardust, a sprinkle of light. Of course, the trick here is whether or not a publisher wants to spread my stardust. Regardless, I am happy to have assembled these particular poems in this way. Hands, These Clumsy Ears of Hands. Out there. Definitely out there.

About the guest blogger:

Carol W. Bachofner, MFA Poetry Vermont College of Fine Arts, is currently Poet Laureate of Rockland, Maine (2012-2016). She founded (2010) and directs the annual Poetry Month Rockand, a city-wide celebration of poetry. An indigenous woman (Abenaki), she writes with a strong sense of place through narrative poetry. Her poems have appeared in such notable journals as Prairie Schooner, CT Review, Main Street Rag, Bangor Metro, The Comstock Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Cream City Review, Naugatuck River Review, and others. Bachofner teaches poetry in her community and “on the road” via workshops and conferences. She has four published books of poetry: Daughter of the Ardennes Forest, 2007; Breakfast at the Brass Compass, 2010; I Write in the Greenhouse, 2011, and Native Moons, Native Days, 2012. In 2011, Bachofner was a runner-up in the Maine Literary Awards, one of three finalists in the short works/poetry category. Visit her web site www.carolbachofner.com for links to her blog, and her facebook page or to contact her for workshops. or contact her by email at poet.laureate.rcklnd@me.com.

Carol Bachofner headshot

 

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Filed under Essay, Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Publishing, Writing, Writing goals