Review: Rooted and Winged by Luanne Castle

Review: Rooted and Winged: Poems by Luanne Castle (Finishing Line Press, 2022)

This review is a WAY overdue. I follow Luanne Castle’s blog, and I liked her previous books of poetry, especially Kin Types. I think I was so afraid I wouldn’t do a good job that I kept putting off writing this review. I’m a master of procrastination sometimes.

Anyway, here goes.

(Full disclosure, I won the Rooted and Winged Writing Contest.)

Luanne Castle’s Rooted and Winged maps the terrain of memory and family. Castle takes us on a journey from Magpie Grill to Grandma’s lap; family myths take root, then fly with birds and get trapped in the darkness. Among the poems about family, “For an Adopted Child” stood out to me, as the mother while enjoying the present knows that one day the child will understand about “the missing.”

Readers are not given a map key. Castle’s poems are not the direct light of the noonday sun. Rather, they come at the reader like the light between slats and the shadows they cast, inviting us to take another look and wonder “where did that come from? Where is it going?”

I thought this light analogy sprang from my own mind, but then I went back to the poems and re-read them. In “The Freeze,” Castle writes, “My first memory of a poem was when a sunbeam angled just so.” And the first poem in the collection, “Tuesday Afternoon at Magpie’s Grill,” begins with the line, “Flickering afternoon light slatted and parsed.” Even the light questions and explores.

This a terrain I have often traveled in my own mind and work, which is why “I Started to Write a Poem about Packing” probably speaks to me so strongly, as it states, “A question isn’t for answering, but for asking.”

“No other question comes close to giving me a reason to go to work or run away.
How to handle a question that insinuates
Itself in every second of our lives?
Is beauty here? There? . . .”

In “Tuesday Afternoon at Magpie’s Grill,” Castle writes,
“No matter what I notice,
no matter what I record, I will never
capture the ease of wind-filled wings. . .”

However, in the book’s final poem, “After Darkness,” Castle writes, “We bring our efforts to the task.”

And really, what more can anyone ask for? I highly recommend this collection.

Advance Review: Archery in the UK

I’m very pleased to share my advance review of Archery in the UK: New Lyrical Ballads and Other Poems by Nick Reeves and Ingrid Wilson. You can find more information at Ingrid’s site: Experiments in Fiction.

Archery in the UK: New Lyrical Ballads and Other Poems by Nick Reeves and Ingrid Wilson (EIF Publishing, 2023)

Reviewed by Merril D. Smith

The initial goal of the full-length poetry collection that became Archery in the UK: New Lyrical Ballads and Other Poems by Nick Reeves and Ingrid Wilson (EIF Publishing, 2023) was “to write a contemporary homage to Lyrical Ballads.” However, as the opening statement notes: “the poems had their own ideas, and told our story.”  And what a story it is! Readers of this collection will find themselves immersed in courtship and partings, despair and joy. The poems explore nature, art, and music, traverse the countryside and towns of England, and a lover’s body. It is birdcalls and bedclothes.

            Arrows and archery form a motif throughout the book with nods to ancient warfare and history, Cupid, and as we’re told in an aside in “The Archer’s Postcard,” “Saint Nicholas (‘ . . .archers and repentant thieves’)”.  Some pages even carry an arrow symbol (a lovely touch), as if to direct the reader onwards.

            There are many lyrical poems, contemporary versions of the Romantics, beloved by Wilson, “Winter Love,” for example. There are also poems in other forms and styles, such as the short imagist lines of “Beach of Dubious Pleasures.” All contribute to the overarching narrative, a love story. As readers we are privileged to experience their “secret sonneteering, music of two poets after dark” (“Two Poets in the Park.)

            Archery in the UK is a true delight. It is a joy to read. We journey with these lovers, feel their sorrow and happiness—and witness the growth of their love. We experience both fairy tale moments and harsh realities. Ultimately, we experience,

“Their hearts, their art: two arcs across the sky

 inscribed within this book of poetry.

–“The Wintered Queen”

You can read “The Wintered Queen” here.

Ingrid is reading some of the poems from the collection on her blog. Here’s “A Thimble of Poetry.”

Good Poetry News!

I have good poetry news to share!

Jen Feroze wrote a lovely review of my poetry collection, River Ghosts in the East Ridge Review. Many thanks to her for her kind words. Also, thank you to editor Andrew Williams who selected my book for the review.

My poem, “Late September,” was just published in the lovely journal Humana Obscura. Thank you very much to editor Bri Bruce for selecting it for publication in the Fall/Winter Issue. It’s available in print or free digital versions. My poem is on p.44.

Finally, though I did not make the shortlist, my poem was longlisted for the Dai Fry Award for Mystical Poetry. This was a very special competition in memory of Swansea poet Dai Fry. Both shortlisted and longlisted poems will be included in a forthcoming anthology. I also have a poem coming out in Black Bough’s special summer anthology. Black Bough’s Top Tweet Tuesday will return next Tuesday, September 6.