19 October 2022

Rooted and Winged by Luanne Castle Guest Post!

 


The poems of Rooted and Winged explore the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. They are of the earth, the place of fertile origins, and of the dream world we observe and imagine when we look upward. Golems and ghosts that emerge from the ground, as well as the birds and angels that live above us, inhabit the collection. We will always be striving for flight, even as we feel most comfortable closest to the earth.

Guest Post

When a cousin heard that my new book is titled Rooted and Winged, she said, “Your family gave you roots and wings?” This assumption might be a logical leap since my last book, Kin Types, was a thin chapbook based on my family history and genealogy. 


Therefore, I had to think for a bit about my relative’s question because the book, as a whole, isn’t so much about family as it is my own life, exterior and interior. As I thought about what she had said, I began to see some sense in her question. 


The book contains several poems about my maternal grandparents and a few about my elderly mother. My grandparents, in particular, helped me grow roots—roots to our extended family tree, our ancestors in Michigan and the Netherlands, and Kalamazoo, where my family has lived since the late 1800s. For example, the poem “Gravity” conjures up these farmers, shopkeepers, tailors, and shoemakers: “Even before us, they [these ancestors] plowed fields / and sewed leather onto soles, their lives / spun from the loom beneath them.”


My grandparents taught me how to live and thrive in connection with the earth:


You balance a new potato in your palm,

ask me to decide if we dig now or let

them stay buried to toughen up.


Grandma and Grandpa—and my other ancestors--gave me a sense of where I could grow from and the nutrients to allow that to happen. In that way, I suppose, they contributed to the winged quality of my imagination.


But, like the Leonard Cowgill drawing on the book’s front cover, the concepts of rooted and winged are more complex. Our connection with the earth gives us everything, even rebirth.


If you press your bare feet

from where you come they will be

reborn to touch differently than face

or hands (“The Purpose of Earth”)


In these poems, I explore different variations of wings and what they mean. Sometimes the wings are mere stubs or outlines; sometimes they are artificial such as a parachute. Often, wings are found where they belong, on birds or angels, but for humans, they are imagined as a way to soar above it all. Wings can take us to heaven or provide the illusion that they do so. They can also leave us plunging to earth.


Even birds and bats fall to earth when

they die

Golems rumble out of the earth but

we fail to recognize them as we crash

to the ground together (“The Purpose of Earth”)


Yet even when we try to soar and fail, the trace of angels remains with us:


See the knobby scars

where the wings once grew as spindles

(“How They Fall”)


We will always be caught in movement between our grip on earth and our desire to fly, between our mortal lives and heavenly eternity.



Luanne Castle's Kin Types (Finishing Line Press), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award. Her first collection of poetry, Doll God, winner of the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for Poetry, was published by Aldrich Press. Luanne 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 (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and Stanford University. Her 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, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Saranac Review, Grist, and other journals. An avid blogger, she can be found at luannecastle.com. She lives in Arizona, where she shares land with a bobcat.





13 comments:

  1. A lovely post, Luanne. Thanks to Kathleen for hosting

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    Replies
    1. You are welcome, good luck with the book!

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    2. You are welcome!

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  2. I enjoyed reading Luanne's reflections on her book!

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  3. Thank you for being on the blog tour for this poetry collection and for hosting Luanne.

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  4. Very interesting to read how Luanne sees herself rooted both literally and figuratively by her grandparents and the earth while also striving for the sky and for freedom just like those potatoes.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. So far, the grandparents poems are among my favorites in the collection.

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  6. I LOVE the title and the poem samples here. They touch my heart. Huge congrats, Luanne, and thanks, Kathleen, for the posting.

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