Please join me in welcoming Luanne Castle, author of Doll God to the blog today. Luanne is touring with Serena’s new venture Poetic Book Tours from February 8-March 7/15. I’ll be posting a review of Luanne’s poetry collection tomorrow so I don’t want to give too much away other than to say I really enjoyed it. I can see now from reading her guest post where the beauty and sadness in her poetry comes from so thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us Luanne. So please enjoy Luanne’s post on what inspires her to write poetry…
Thank you so much, Darlene, for inviting me to write about my poetry muse. Asking what inspires me to write a poem forces me to look at the subject head on, so it’s a learning experience for me.
The other day I sat at the bank, waiting for the banker to notarize a document for me. I was bored and it was my fourth errand, so I hadn’t checked my emails in hours. Glancing at my iPhone, I saw a recent email from a friend. I dipped into it and found a link to an article about the death of a young actor. Within a manner of seconds, my mind zipped from thinking of the ways a young person might suddenly die to my actor daughter and her actor friends to the genre” of online obituaries. Each thought was accompanied with a sputtering steam of emotions. I realized that the juxtaposition of my relaxed and professional demeanor at the bank with the lid-rocking cauldron of emotions I felt inside meant that a poem was in the making.
Maybe a lot of poems come into being from bouncing against a boundary or the comparison/contrast of disparate images or thoughts.
Following Emily Dickinson’s advice to “tell it slant,” sometimes I set up the juxtaposition on purpose as a way to look at something common in a new light. I wrote a series of poems a few years ago that purposefully took a scientific image or theory and paired it with a folk or fairy tale just to see what would happen.
The old tales are also inspirational for me. I am struck by certain stories from my childhood. Their resonance seems to have permanent residence in my thought patterns and in my life. They grow and change with my world. In my new book Doll God the Snow White story and a Japanese tale called “The Stonecutter” inspired several poems.
Water–lake, ocean, river–is one of my inspirations. That might be because I grew up in Michigan, which is bounded by four of the five great lakes and contains 11,000 lakes within those shores. We lived on the lake in the summer. Sometimes I can still feel the seaweed under my feet on lake bottom.
For many of the poems in Doll God, dolls have been inspirational. As a child, I loved dolls and used to transform our living room and hallway into an imaginary town for my dolls. My grandmother, who was the Head Fitter at the 28 Shop at Marshall Fields in Chicago, designed and sewed beautiful outfits for my imitation Barbie and for my walking doll. Because I grew up with the imaginary world of dolls, I can’t see a doll that doesn’t inspire me for a poem. Often my imagination will transform the doll into a magical portal through which to see more of the human heart.
About Doll God
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.
About the Author
Luanne Castle has been a Fellow at the Center for Ideas and Society at the University of California, Riverside. She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside; Western Michigan University; and Stanford University. Her poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in Barnstorm Journal, Grist, The Antigonish Review, Ducts, TAB, River Teeth, Lunch Ticket, Wisconsin Review, The MacGuffin, and other journals. She contributed to Twice-Told Children’s Tales: The Influence of Childhood Reading on Writers for Adults, edited by Betty Greenway. Luanne divides her time between California and Arizona, where she shares land with a herd of javelina.