[Review] Our Wolves by Luanne Castle @PoeticBookTours

Publisher and Publication Date: Alien Buddha Press. January 31, 2023.
Genre: Poetry.
Pages: 37.
Format: PDF. E-book.
Source: I received a complimentary PDF e-book from Poetic Book Tours and Luanne Castle. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Adult readers of poetry.
Rating: Very good.

Poetry Book Tours

Link for the book @ Amazon.

Praise for the book:

“Perhaps you were wrong.”  In these imaginative and evocative poems, expectations are subverted, and flat, centuries-old characters are brought to life in both amusing and startling ways. Castle tells the old story of Red Riding Hood from new angles and perspectives, creating a multitude of responses from the reader, eliciting from us everything from moments of cringing to laughter. Most interestingly, Castle subverts the predictable and achieves complexity by using an unlikely combination of forms and mixed modes–from the more traditional lineated lyric and narrative poems to the unexpected Haibun and Abecedarian, using every technique available to create this lively and memorable book. These poems invite us to confront what we take for granted and then let loose our own inner wolf to bite in and savor them all–one well-crafted word at a time. –Kimberly K. Williams, author of Sometimes a Woman and Still Lives.

In Our Wolves, poet Luanne Castle navigates the timeless story of “Little Red Riding Hood” in a compelling collection of sharp, memorable poetry. Familiar tales are ageless for a reason. Their magic is that they can easily be transformed to explore subjects of
abuse, danger, sexuality, self-sufficiency, and interpersonal relationships in a way that makes these challenging topics palatable to readers. Trying to find the reasoning behind Red’s traumatic adventure, as well as using it to comment on contemporary events, Castle creates taut narratives and sympathetic monologues to show how the story shapeshifts with the teller. Here, we hear from the wolf, the huntsman/woodcutter, Grandmother, townspeople, and Red herself. Not just a victimized or innocent child, Castle’s Red also appears in wiser (and sometimes older) incarnations that are knowing, rebellious, resilient, and clever. This technique subverts stereotypical conventions and shows that Red’s story “is not so very different from yours / and yours and yours and yours and yours.” Filled with atmospheric power, dynamic portrayals, and bright imagery, Our Wolves will haunt you long after you’ve returned from its woods. –Christine Butterworth-McDermott, author of The Spellbook of Fruit & Flowers.

In this recasting of the Little Red Riding Hood tale, Luanne Castle’s wolves are not the wolves skulking in our imaginations. Her poems challenge our senses, bounce from view to view, shifting their focal points. Grandmothers and red-coat-wearing girls may or may not bear guilt. Indeed, Granny may be the Wolf. Or the Wolf may be a father, pulling down panties to slap bare skin. The story is told “to search / for who, not why. It’s all about blame.”; Which is, of course, only one truth lurking within this fable. The poems in Our Wolves burrow under your skin and into your flesh. They don’t let go, no matter how you scratch; they’re unsettling, magical. Relentless. Unforgettable. –Robert Okaji, author of Buddha’s Not Talking.

Luanne Castle lives in Arizona, next to a wash that wildlife use as a thoroughfare. She has published two full-length poetry collections, Rooted and Winged (Finishing Line Press 2022) and Doll God (Aldrich/Kelsay 2015), which won the New Mexico Arizona Book Award for Poetry. Kin Types (Finishing Line Press 2017), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award. Our Wolves (Alien Buddha Press 2023) is her second chapbook. Luanne’s 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, Saranac Review, and other journals.

My Thoughts:

The poems are various creative spin-offs from the original story of Little Red Riding Hood.

The poems are adult in subject.

They have adult themes. Some examples are abuse, power and control, and wisdom in relationships.

The poems are written in a writing style of casualness. However, the mood of the poems often holds sarcasm and anger.

The poems are non-rhyming.

The poems, and because of the subject matter, are not going to be for all readers. It will depend on how sensitive to the content of abuse is the reader. I am an abuse survivor. I am able to read the poems and feel a slight pull towards bad memories and feelings, but I am thankful for writers who take on hard subject matter. Abuse should not be a taboo subject. It should not be whispered about or closeted.

My favorite poems:

“A Snowy Night in Manistee River Valley.”

“What Happens in the Dark When It’s Cold Outside.”

“School for Girls Who Shouldn’t Trust.”

“You All Been Waiting for a Wolf Confession.”

“Thanks for meeting me for Coffee.”

The poem, “School for Girls Who Shouldn’t Trust,” spoke to me in a big way. I was that girl a long time ago.


3 thoughts on “[Review] Our Wolves by Luanne Castle @PoeticBookTours

  1. Pingback: Our Wolves by Luanne Castle (Spring 2023) |

  2. Pingback: A Love Poem to My Cat and #TankaTuesday | Luanne Castle: Poetry and Other Words (and cats!)

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