Blog Book Tour | “Kin Types” (#Poetry collection) by Luanne Castle

Posted Thursday, 9 November, 2017 by jorielov , , 6 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I have been hosting for Poetic Book Tours for a few years now, where I am finding myself encouraged to seek out collections of poetry or incredible fiction being published through Small Trade publishers and presses. I have an Indie spirit and mentality as a writer and I appreciate finding authors who are writing creative works through Indie resources as I find Indies have a special spirit about them. It is a joy to work with Poetic Book Tours for their resilience in seeking out voices in Literature which others might overlook and thereby, increasing my own awareness of these beautiful lyrical voices in the craft.

I received a complimentary copy of “Kin Types” direct from the author Luanne Castle in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Blog Book Tour | “Kin Types” (#Poetry collection) by Luanne CastleKin Types
by Luanne Castle
Source: Author via Poetic Book Tours

Kin Types is based largely upon genealogy and a fascination with what comes to all of us from the past. A mix of poetry in the traditional sense and highly poetic prose pieces, the collection takes the reader on a journey into the lives of women and somewhat into the lives of men who must carry on alone once the women are gone. The journey of this collection is not a ramble into the past, but a slingshot into the here and now by way of these portrait tales.

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Poetry & Drama

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781635342543

Also by this author: Kin Types

Published by Finishing Line Press

on 14th July, 2017

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 44

Published By: Finishing Line Press (@FLPress)

Available Formats: Paperback & Ebook

Read how the author was inspired to create this collection

Converse via: #Ancestry + #Poetry

About Luanne Castle

Luanne Castle Photo Credit headshot by renee

Winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, Doll God, Luanne Castle‘s first collection of poetry, was published by Aldrich Press. Luanne’s poetry and prose have appeared in Grist, Copper Nickel, River Teeth, Glass Poetry Press, Barnstorm Journal, Six Hens, Lunch Ticket, The Review Review, and many other journals. Published by Finishing Line Press, Kin Types was a semi-finalist in the Concrete Wolf chapbook contest.

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 (Ph.D.); Western Michigan University (MFA); and the Stanford University writing certificate program. Her scholarly work has been published in academic journals, and she contributed to Twice-Told Children’s Tales: The Influence of Childhood Reading on Writers for Adults, edited by Betty Greenway. For fifteen years, she taught college English. She divides her time between California and Arizona, where she shares land with a herd of javelina.

my review of kin types:

Initially, what fascinated me by this collection of Poetry, is how the writer was inspired by her ancestral origins and the lineage which drew her eye to create these poems. I inherited my love of ancestral ‘sleuthing’ from my Mum, wherein recently I had quite a lovely experience where the ‘past’ and ‘present’ happily knitted back together – as I was able to meet my Swedish 2nd Cousin for the very first time – lost to us in the annals of time; but through dedicated research, after 15 years between connecting points and queries – we found each other at long last! It was a very rewarding meeting – Mum supplied pieces of information and for the first time, we had someone else following our knowledge with the other ‘half’ we never knew! It was quite remarkable – even before this was able to happen earlier this November – I have been keenly fascinated by how some writers are writing stories based on their own ancestral research. I have seen this threading recently through Historical Fiction (some of which I’ve blogged about previously) which is why it makes sense a poet would explore the topic herself. Poetry has a way of fusing our thoughts and our hearts on a different plane of understanding than what fiction can afford to give us.

Our ancestors are faint echoes in our lives, their presence feeling as if they are hidden from our perspective yet as we dig into the historical records, pieces of their lives start to re-emerge. Sometimes it offers to reconnect us with a portion of ourselves we never understood or connected a thread of origin we never knew existed. Ancestry sleuths like Mum and I, help to keep the living histories of our families alive and well care after for the next generations, who might find themselves inspired by the legacies of our ancestors. For each new generation, all the stories bind themselves together to present a living lifeblood of a family’s line.

Whilst reading about how the poet approached this collection, I felt connected to her intent to draw closer to her ancestors by my own experiences in trying to reconnect what has become lost through time itself. There is a natural curiosity about our ancestors – but it’s the stories, Ms Castle is hinting towards – those are the treasures amongst Ancestry Sleuths; which is why meeting our Swedish Cousin was such an extraordinary day – we were able to share the stories we’ve continued to tell to ourselves to someone new to us, whose appreciating them with the same joy we’ve always had ourselves! In many ways, by reconnecting ourselves to where our ancestors originated has given us a beautiful glimpse on the traditions and customs they took with them, whilst providing an anchour of who they were before they emigrated.

Part of the writer’s Dedication in combination with the transcribed quote which prefaces this collection – rumour out my own inclinations herein. All of us are transporters of knowledge – including of the familial lineage which flows through us all. Each of us are a small glimpse into the past – a portal we access simply by following our own instincts and uniting with the truth hidden within us to appreciate how inter-connected we all are to each other.

In “Advice from my Forebears” we gather a sense of ‘right and wrong’ and common sense advice you’d expect from a few centuries back – where life was hard enough without adding to it by making heedless mistakes! Some of these are outright hilarious – only because some of the advice given then, is quite common knowledge now – however, the others, hone in on the century of the ancestor, alighting us through their own mind and heart of how life’s woes can occur without forewarning! It’s a nice glimpse into a quick-step guide of how best to live whilst owning to the truths of living at the same time.

I had trouble getting through the “Account of a Poor Oil Stove” simply due to the inertia of loss, frantic resolve and the eclipse of pain in the end. It’s not one for a faint heart – it talks on themes of motherhood, sanctity of life and how life’s emergencies are never planned; they are transitioned through as they arrive; given little heed ahead of time to prepare of us for what we must courageously face in the uncertainties of life. This is a gutting piece of prose – of where your mind is not willing yet to place the truth of it’s message in front of you until the very last moment, where you realise exactly what it is trying to say. It is one of the most incredibly layered accounts of how insidious a fire can become, of how dauntingly real and alive fire breathes itself into life and how the after effects of a fire can be daunting for all of us who remain to understand the reasons why certain things happen in the ways that they do.

This was the first piece in the collection which was what I would consider prose-narrative – where there is a delicate balance between how the story affects the reader through the scope of how it is told. There are other pieces of narrative – of elongated stories crafted together next to the poems – where lists of names and places of origins are mentioned after the stories themselves; a nod I would presume to Ms Castle’s ancestors; of reflecting of whom inspired which story or piece she’s sharing within the collection itself. A marker in a way, of noting what happened to whom and of whom she felt motivated to share insight in regards to their lives through a plausible ‘story’ of one moment where their life and hers felt interconnected to the point in which telling their tale was in effect re-telling a portion of her own.

In “Baptism in the Morning”, you gather the insanity of having to explain yourself – of how having a fifth child so late in life after your previous four (three girls, one boy) were well advanced into their adult years is such an unorthodox situation to be presenting to your church going neighbours – however, given the timestamp on this woman’s life, I can understand how the scuttlebutt started! In her defense, I doubt there were many ‘change of life’ babies bourne in their community; however, this is my first reaction to the story. It can in effect be read two different ways – is the shame being felt due to an ‘unexpected’ pregnancy of the mother or is it in effect, one of her three daughters whose been left unwed and withchild? If it is the second way round, what makes it tender-hearted is how much strength the mother had to help shield the hypocrisies of their community and ‘get on’ with life once they were back home on the farm.

Equally quelling of emotional truths is the poem “Farmhouse Table” – of a girl becoming a woman whose too young to understand all the sudden changes happening to her therein. It’s a short account of what happens at the height of revelation – of finding yourself transformed through an experience and of parents, who not entirely willing to ‘let go’ of the child, have to prepare to do their bit to see their child through a very difficult ordeal.

Through “Genealogy”, we find a pattern of how one ‘name’ descending through one person’s lineage can be a marker of reference for how tired and true one name can reflect itself through different generations of life. It is a curious thought – why do some names attach themselves to your ancestors’ lives moreso than others? Why are some names altered in spelling but are the same name all the same in the end? A clue towards one family’s lineage for the sake of prosperity or is there something else happening? Is there a larger clue towards how to understand why some families have a recycled sense of self through the names they give their descendants?

In the chronicle of “Someone Else’s Story” – you feel immediate attached to the circumstances – of how desperate they are and how hopeful the woman is who is living the life. For hers is not an unheard of circumstance, but it’s how strong she was to find the means to ‘rise out of poverty’ which set her apart from her peers. She had a fire inside her pushing her forward and keeping her mind on the future whilst keeping a mindfulness about her present in a way, I fear most would not understand. She had an old soul approach to the hardships of life – of finding your own way out of circumstances where there is no road to tread. Sometimes the best redemption is cured through self-directed motivation to endure whatever it takes to succeed in the end.

“The First Baby Still Sleeps Long Hours” is an entry into how a woman is captured by inspiration in how sewing clothes can be a mark of a woman’s confidence in herself. She has a keen eye for fabric and notions; of seeing how the patterns of her day’s fashions can be altered or renewed by the choices you make as you sew – a woman ahead of herself and of the time she lived. Whilst she’s toiling long into the night, over the firelight of candles – whose wax is drawing too thin to find solace in the hours left to finish her tasks, here we find the balance of life – between what is expected (ie. motherhood) and what is a personal goal of seeing how far you can push yourself to do something ‘new’ which you’ve not yet done beforehand. I felt this piece in particular could be lengthened – it would make a fitting gateway into a Historical Fiction novel.

“What Came Between a Woman and Her Duties” is quite a remarkable tale – if you consider the finite details of what is being disclosed. Here, in a particular place during the late 1800s on the fringes of a turning of a new century, a mother has lost her rights to her children for being an ‘artist’ who enjoys to paint! Yes, if you think this is absurd, wait til you get the fuller details of what befell her and how this situation was reversed! I was quite agape reading it until I realised – most of the freedoms we have now, were severely limited only a handful of centuries ago – to peer back and see those discrepancies is truly telling.

The capstone poem for me in this collection is “When Your Grandfather Shows You Photographs of His Mother” due to the nature of how there are some traces of origins through our appearances which oft-times go unnoticed and unchecked. Have you ever noticed how some families are recognisable for how their features and mannerisms are well-presented throughout their lineage? Of how there are reflective murmurs of personality through each new generation their family expands inside? Others, I find are more independently related – where you cannot find connections within how they ‘appear’ to the outside world. They each are their own canvas. What is interesting here – is one woman took this observational enigma to the next layer of insight – how does what we see of ourselves in the mirror of the past, reflect now against our future?

‘Kin Types’ is a repository of memories laced through narrative probabilities stemmed out of a writer’s imagination for re-inserting herself into the foot-falls of her own historic past. If you take the leap forward into these curated stories, you will find echoes and representations of one woman’s ancestral line – stepping forward from the darkness, to re-illuminate only one small slice of how they lived to be viewed against what we understand today. Of how life erupts out of circumstance, of how ingenuity is not a ready-made concept of today and how there is a need for legacy even before it is understood for what it is to everyone in the family. These stitchings of life are threading through the women – of how the feminine experience in one family not only set the course for the descendants but provided a crucial view of how cruel and unexpected life can become whilst living an ordinary life. There are joys along the route, too – but mostly, it is an exploration of the harder emotional truths the spirit of who we are might not always want to re-visit.

Fly in the Ointment: Content Note

Although I understood the sentiment of alarming strife in “Once and Now” – I could have dealt without the imagery of what befalls one person’s dog. Honestly, I’m a sensitive reader most of the times, but when it comes to animals – I’d prefer not to read how the evils of the world can place their innocent lives in danger. It was one of the more graphic displays of how someone could kill something so beloved too. I wish I had skipped over this one – for it half-stopped my heart. It’s a poem about war and about how hatred can run thicker than a waterfall through a close-knit community but evenso, I felt this one crossed a line in the sand for me. I read plenty of war dramas – but this explicit imagery isn’t my cuppa tea.

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UPDATE: My footnote has sparked a discussion

I was most surprised when I returnt online to find my note of critique at the end of my review has sparked a reactionary discussion – wherein, instead of finding others who can understand how some of us are being honest in what we ‘can handle’ in fiction & prose rather than to omit mentioning anything at all – I am finding myself duly roasted on a post by the author which meant to spark a healthy discussion rather than to be a platform to say quite pointedly who is right and who is wrong. All of literature is subjective – we bring all of ourselves to what we read – we internalise things differently from each other, and sometimes, some of us, have learnt the hard way how certain ‘explicit imagery’ can go against our very soul.

If any of the responders had read my Review Policy, they’d have seen a notation about cruelty to animals being one of my avoiders; in my own defense, despite being pro-active about things I cannot handle in Literature, there are certain moments where I find something I am reading is still a bit too much for me, personally. At the end of the day, I applaud the writer’s intentions – she created a post I loved reading – it spoke of the invisible thread between those of us who write and those of us who read. It’s a beautiful symbiotic relationship – where the writer opens the door towards thought and imagination and the reader completes the circle therein.

Being a poet and a writer, myself – the only thing I disagreed with is the tone of the responses – each of us has the right to share our opinions – even if we’re in the minority of what we’re expressing; it’s still our own thoughts – again, I stand by sharing how what I read is interpreted in the moment of being read.

Also, it should be noted, I had understood what Ms Castle was intending me to find in this poem – about how during war, everything changes. Everything. From how we view each other to how we react to our world. War is messy and cruel and difficult across all fronts. I simply was reflecting upon reaching a stage in my readerly life (ie. refers back to what I learnt from reading Citadel) to where I reached a crossroads – some of what I was allowing myself to read was affecting my spirit. I could not distance myself from what I was reading and internalising – to a negative effect not a retrospective one.

Again, each of us must decide what we can breathe in – what we can handle and what is healthy for our own state of mind. As an aside, why this one scene bothered me most is because I grew up hearing stories of my Mum’s family dog – the same breed as the one in the poem, and in my heart, something snapped – because I knew if my Mum ever knew of this scene, it would crush her soul. Yes, bad things happen – but sometimes, the reviewer has a personal experience which affects them whilst reading certain passages – I only bring this up now, after the fact, because earlier it felt too personal to share. After reading the discussion post – I felt I had to validate my reasons – something I should not have felt obliged to do, but this is sometimes what happens in an online world such as those of us who share our lives through our blogs.

This is how I’ve approached each story and poem I’ve reviewed on Jorie Loves A Story – the key blessing here, is how Ms Castle and I are simpatico! My hat is tipped to you, Ms Castle!

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who picked up the same story to read.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Thursday, 9 November, 2017 by jorielov in Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Content Note, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Poetic Book Tours, Poetry

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6 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “Kin Types” (#Poetry collection) by Luanne Castle

  1. Jorie, thank you for your response to the discussion. I want to make sure you know that I think yours is one of the very best reviews of Kin Types, and that your sensitive and thorough reading of the poems is brilliant. Always, the teacher ;), I thought that your comment about the poor dog would spark a good discussion and thoughtfulness about what a poet should or should not put in a poem. I remember hearing (the audio recording of a BBC interview) Sylvia Plath once say that she thought anything should be “allowed” in a poem, but that she herself drew the line at a toothbrushes–for her Dachau was ok, but not toothbrushes. That makes me think that maybe everybody has a line. Also, we all need to protect ourselves from some things. I am guilty of posting petitions on Facebook that are meant to help animals in need, and the petitions do seem to work or have a part in resolution, particularly in individual cases. But, of course, these postings can be traumatic to others. It’s up to them to protect themselves. I am willing to bet though that a large percentage of those protecting themselves are just wanting to live in a little bubble, ignoring the things they could do to make the world a better place. But then there are those like you and me when I can’t stand it any more (I have those weeks) who already KNOW the bad stuff out there and have to protect ourselves from what is too great a burden at that time. I couldn’t have turned away from letting the poem go where it needed to go because it is the truth that the poem knew, but I am not of the opinion that the writer should completely ignore the reader and just do what we want to do without considering the reader. Otherwise, why should writers ask money for their books? I probably need to write an essay to fully expand on what your comment made me think about, but I’ll shut up now. Thank you so much for an amazing review!

  2. Hi Jorie, thanks for being on the blog tour. And as an aside, you should never feel obliged to explain why something affected you as it did. Each of us interprets and reacts to poetry and prose differently based on personal experience. I applaud you for explaining, but I don’t think it was necessary…your opinions are your own. I agree, animal cruelty is tough to read…It makes me very uncomfortable.

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms Cox!

      I truly am thankful for your lovely note of response! :) I agree – I generally do not feel I ought to validate my own thoughts & opinions, however, due to what was occurring off my blog – I felt I needed to respond; if only to let the author know my thoughts immediately after I had read the discussion post. I didn’t feel comfortable at the time letting it stand where it was (so to speak) and thereby, my ‘post script’ was truly for Ms Castle moreso than anyone else. I truly share your view and thoughts — about how we perceive what we read, how we internalise what we read and how each of us is individually affected by what we take-in. I just felt it was necessary to include the footnote on this post whereas other times, I let my original words speak on my behalf.

      I find the key issue for me is the graphic nature of certain scenes — be it overt violence or in regards to animals – as it happened again within the scope of the same week – it’s just not something I can shift past and accept. It’s beyond uncomfortable for me – which is why I am thankful to see you’ve sympathised with my reaction. Meanwhile, as this matter has resolved now — I am eagerly awaiting to share the convo I put together with the author, which is why I was happily tweeting about it today. Sometimes, moving forward is best rather than to continue to hash out a misunderstanding which I felt happened in regards to the discussion at hand.

  3. Thank you so much, Jorie. Your interpretation of the various poems is just fabulous! I appreciate your comment about the poor dog, and I’m sorry for the distress. Your comment has stimulated discussion on my personal Facebook page, so I intend to bring that discussion to my blog. Thank you!!!

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms Castle!

      Thank you for such a beautiful response to my ruminative thoughts! I found your poetry very stirring – especially how you chronicled the lives of your ancestors in such a uniquely style of poetic narrative! I felt dearly immersed inside their lives, by a hidden corridor of insight into how they thought, lived and reflected upon their own experiences – as if we could peer right into their spirit. Thanks for giving us such an intuitive glimpse into their lives – and as such, into your own living history. I appreciate finding other families (like my own) whose kept the annals of living history alive within their everyday life, as it’s the only way to past forward the lessons, trials and joys of the past. Each of us has a well of interesting stories percolating just out of sight, through our ancestral lines. Finding new ways to bring those stories to life – not just for ourselves but for others to knit inside is a wonderful discovery! I was blessed to cross your path – finding we share a mutual love for Ancestral Sleuthing!

      • Ah, thank you so much, Jorie! “Ancestral Sleuthing”–I love that! If you don’t have one, have you considered writing a blog about your sleuthing? I have made so many discoveries from the kindness of internet strangers through my family history blog.

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