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.