Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Interview with Luanne Castle, Author of the Poetry Collection Rooted and Winged

Luanne Castle's new poetry collection is Rooted and Winged (Finishing Line Press). Kin Types, a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award. Her first collection of poetry, Doll God (Aldrich), won the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for Poetry. Luanne’s Pushcart and Best of the Net-nominated poetry and prose have appeared in Copper Nickel, American Journal of Poetry, Pleiades, River Teeth, TAB, Verse Daily, Saranac Review, and other journals. 

My bookstore, which is located on my website, provides links to the purchase of my books, but also to all of my social media. I hope your readers will follow me on those platforms, which include my blog Writer Site, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Soundcloud.



Where did you grow up? 

I love this question because where I grew up now seems a bit magical to me. The magical aspects of childhood have no doubt lent some of that quality to my memories of place. Although I was born in Sturgis, Michigan, because of my father’s job, we only lived there for the first year of my life before my parents moved back to Kalamazoo where my mother’s relatives had lived since the 1860s. Images of lakes well up often in my poems because Michigan is surrounded by four of the Great Lakes and over fifty inland lakes can be found in Kalamazoo County. Additionally, for me, Kalamazoo is the site of family; lowlands and celery farms; higher education; passion for the arts; tornado warnings, a balance of urban, rural, and suburban; and Dutch heritage. 

When did you begin writing? 

I began writing poems as a child, and my desire to be a writer was my first career aspiration. When I was in third grade, the character of Jo March in the Louisa May Alcott books was inspirational to me. I thought that since Jo was a writer, and she was written by a woman who was a writer, that her life must be attainable. In high school I began writing poetry more seriously, and my inspirations were Edna St. Vincent Millay and Emily Dickinson. 

What is this poetry collection about and what inspired you to write it? 

Threaded throughout the book are poems that spring from my childhood in Kalamazoo. My maternal grandparents are major characters, and that is fitting because it was through them that I became a writer. My grandmother told me that she thought her life was like Jo March’s because she had sisters very like Jo’s sisters Meg and Amy. I now know that her parents had lost a baby, too, so it’s possible that she was represented for my grandmother by Beth. My grandmother’s dream was to be a writer. To a certain extent she did accomplish this by writing funny micro stories that were published in places like Chicago Tribune and Reader’s Digest. My grandfather was known for his knowledge of family history and his oral storytelling. From his fascinating stories I grew to love genealogy. 

But many of the poems in Rooted and Winged are from the perspective of my adult life, living in Arizona and southern California. The animals and landscape of the desert have captured my imagination. Although the possible meanings of the book title are plentiful, one way to see the collection is as about my roots in Kalamazoo and my family and the “flight” I took out of the hometown and into the wild west of the Sonoran. 

How is it similar to your other collections? How is it different? 

Rooted and Winged does have some aspects in common with my first full-length collection, Doll God. While neither are overtly religious, they are both informed by a spiritual sensibility and the roots of faith. These collections arise from my life experiences, but look beyond to mine these experiences for their significance. Kin Types is a chapbook of poems and flash nonfiction strictly based on the lives of some of my ancestors. My grandparents do show up in a couple of poems in Kin Types, but in Rooted and Winged the grandparent poems are more personal as they relate to my relationship with them. 

What do you feel is the most important thing readers can learn from your book? 

Only one thing? If I have to choose one, I guess it would be to enjoy coming along for the ride, sharing my exploration of the topics and experiences within the poems. I’d also love it if readers share my sense of wonder at the importance of both roots and wings to our lives. 

Where can readers purchase a copy? 

At my online bookstore, you can find Rooted and Winged from both the publisher and Amazon. You can also find links to my previous books, Doll God and Kin Types. 

What is up next for you? 

I’ve completed a memoir in flash nonfiction pieces, called Scrap: Salvaging a Family. This book is about my father and my relationship with him. I am also finishing up a chapbook of “Little Red Riding Hood” poems that offer various “takes” on the wolf. 

Is there anything you would like to add? 

I hope you will read and enjoy Rooted and Winged. Writing it was a powerful experience, and I’d like to think that you have an epiphany or two of your own while reading. If you enjoy it, please consider leaving even a one or two sentence review at Amazon and/or Goodreads. Thank you to The Book Connection and its readers for interviewing me about Rooted and Winged.  


John Howell said...

Excellent interview. I was born and raised in Michigan and am very familiar with the Kalamazoo area Best wishes on your latest, Luanne.

Luanne said...

Thank you, John. Kalamazoo is a very special place to me. So happy to hear you are familiar with the area!

Cheryl said...

Thanks for visiting today, John and Luanne. Wishing you the best with your book, Luanne.

Savvy Verse & Wit said...

Thanks for interviewing Luanne!