Sunday, March 5, 2023

Q&A with Luanne Castle



Luanne Castle is the author of the new poetry chapbook Our Wolves. It highlights the "Little Red Riding Hood" story. Her other books include the poetry collection Rooted and Winged. She lives in Arizona.  


Q: What inspired you to create the poems in your new chapbook?  


A: When I write poems, I often respond to something that attracts my attention or I write to a writing prompt. I rarely go at a topic head on, but usually complicate by looking through a different lens.  


This lens may be science or history or myth. By myth I mean folk tales, archetypes, or iconic stories. The story of Red Riding Hood has come up over and over for me as a mythic lens by which to write about any topic. Eventually I began to “interrogate” the story itself in poems.  


Q: What intrigued you about the Red Riding Hood story, and did you need to do much research to write the poems?  


A: From the time that my mother read to me from a Little Golden Book version of Little Red Riding Hood through my discovery of the Grimm Brothers’ Rotkäppchen (Little Red Cap), I connected with the story of the little girl venturing out into a dangerous world.


Eventually I went on to teach college English, and in my children’s literature classes we read and closely examined folk and fairy tales.


Red Riding Hood, because it is found in many cultures, is over a thousand years old, and is found in many versions, was an excellent folk tale model by which to compare versions. By doing so, my students and I defamiliarized a well-known tale in order to really notice what we were reading.  


For teaching this story, I had to research a wide variety of versions and theory and criticism that has been written about Red Riding Hood.  


I was very aware of the psychoanalytic interpretation as postulated by Bruno Bettelheim decades ago of the tale as a story about puberty and burgeoning sexuality. However, I feel that perspective is too narrow. In fact, Red has more to worry about in the world than from her sexuality—or the wolf’s.  


So, yes, I did a great deal of research, but over many years and not specifically to write Our Wolves.  


Q: How was the book’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?  


A: We all have metaphorical wolves in our lives. They can be con men or sexual predators or abusers or even best friends who take advantage of us. But sometimes wolves are really just wolves or they are not wholly to blame.  


I cannot imagine thinking of a metaphorical wolf as singular. That is why I wanted to draw attention to the notion of multiple wolves and that they do, in fact, belong to all of us.  


I also want to acknowledge real wolves for the magnificent creatures that they are. Nothing like the wolf in the European RRH versions.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?  


A: I hope that readers recognize the various ways of looking at the Red Riding Hood story in this poetry collection. Red, the grandmother, the wolf, the woodsman, and others all get a voice.  


And most of all, I would love if readers have a good time reading these poems. They are a little edgy, sometimes funny, and other times angry. They should be good entertainment.  


Q: What are you working on now?  


A: I’ve finished up an experimental, hybrid memoir which consists of lyrical flash prose. And I am continuing to write poetry, not with any particular project in mind. I am also practicing my skills in ekphrastic and syllabic poetry because these were areas of my repertoire that I thought were weak.  


Eventually I would like to write a poetry collection about animals and animal rescue, a subject close to my heart.  


Q: Anything else we should know?  


A: Our Wolves is available on Amazon. Last September (2022), I published my second full-length collection, Rooted and Winged. It is available on Amazon.  


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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