Tag Archives: Luanne Castle

Our Wolves by Luanne Castle Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood gets a new take when poetry and perspective shine a light on Red and those she interacted with on that fateful night in author and poet Luanne Castle’s “Our Wolves”.


The Synopsis

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

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“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

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The Review

This was a memorable and heartfelt collection of poems. The author does an incredible job of finding the right balance of storytelling through the poems themselves to tell this reimagining of such an iconic fairytale and highlighted the rich themes found within the poems with powerful imagery and insightful tones that kept the reader grounded in the magical reality they were weaving together. 

The heart of the author’s work rested in the moving themes the poems played with and the folklore that the author drew upon to weave this tale. The poems hit upon things like identity, staying true to oneself, honesty, and overcoming our fears in life, and the way the author was able to write these poems in a way in which the audience was able to see themselves in one form or another through these varied perspectives was memorable, to say the least. The way in which the reader is treated to the perspective of the Wolf, Grandma, and of course Red herself allowed for readers to connect more with the major players of this tale and the struggles each and every one of them held onto until the bitter end. 

The Verdict

Heartfelt, memorable, and captivating, author Luanne Castle’s “Our Wolves” is a masterful and engaging poem collection. The imagery and atmosphere that each pome conjures up and the rich dynamics each perspective brings to the narrative of Red Riding Hood made this a truly thoughtful and relatable collection that readers won’t soon forget. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

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.

Luanne blogs at Writer Site and The Family Kalamazoo.


Interview with Author Luanne Castle

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Sometimes it seems as if I was always a writer. When I was a baby, I used to love magazines and would rip out each page and wad it up. Maybe I was being a critic, but I like to think that I loved the paper, ink, and pictures—not to mention the sound of the crumpling paper. I have always loved books, reading, and writing. However, I don’t think I was ready to begin to write in earnest until I was in my late twenties, when I had enough life experiences.


What inspired you to write your book?

Rooted and Winged came about from the experiences I had throughout the writing of the poems and the memories that came to light during that period. The book took about five years to write as I began it after my chapbook Kin Types was published. Then, after COVID surfaced, I finished the final poems. These pandemic poems can be found in Section IV. Death, loss, aging, and terminal illness inhabit the final part of the book along with the lonely surreal feel of living in the first few months of a pandemic. “Hearing Aids” describes how my mother bought her first hearing aids during these scary months when we were both trapped within our homes almost two thousand miles apart, feeling isolated yet united:

“She pours tea there / and I pour mine here. Our spouts speak the same.” 

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope readers draw what they personally glean from the poems, drawing upon their own perspectives and experiences. Writing poetry is a discovery process for the poet. I don’t know what I am going to learn until I complete a poem. From this collection, I found that the images of flight are meaningful to me as both a spiritual site and as a source of great power. But without roots to tie me to earth and its human and animal inhabitants, I would lose the balance that guides the power.

What drew you into this particular genre?

I have loved poetry since I was a child. I still love to read poetry, but I also enjoy memoirs and mysteries. I tend to write in short bursts of time regularly, which is very conducive to writing poetry. To write a novel, I would need large blocks of time. Also, I love the imagery and succinct quality of poetry.


What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Definitely my blog, Writersite.org. I started it ten years ago and have made wonderful friends through blogging. My readers are so supportive of my writing and me personally. Facebook is an excellent way to share my writing with friends from different parts of my life and with other writers. I like Twitter because I can keep up with what is going on with other writers. Instagram is fun, but I use it more for my art journaling since it is a visual social media.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Read, read, read in several genres, especially in the genre you want to write in. And take every in-person or online workshop or writing class that you can. Many free or low-cost ones become available, so watch for them. Don’t publish too soon. Even if you are planning a novel or full-length memoir, start with smaller projects and submit stories and poems to literary journals. Finally, don’t publish a book that hasn’t been adequately edited. 

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I just completed my memoir in flash nonfiction “scraps.” Fittingly, it’s called Scrap: Salvaging a Family. I’ve also been assembling a chapbook of poems based on Little Red Riding Hood stories.


About the Poet

Luanne Castle’s Kin Types (Finishing Line Press), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Award.  Her first poetry collection, Doll God, winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, was published by Aldrich Press. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she studied at the University of California, Riverside (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and Stanford University.  Her writing has appeared in Copper Nickel, TAB, The American Journal of Poetry, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Verse Daily, Saranac Review, Lunch Ticket, River Teeth, and other journals. An avid blogger, she can be found at luannecastle.com.  She divides her time between California and Arizona, where she shares land with a bobcat. Her heart belongs to her rescue cats.

Luanne blogs at Writer Site and The Family Kalamazoo.