Kin Types by Luanne Castle

About the Collection

Kin Types is a collection of lyric poetry, prose poetry, and flash prose that imaginatively retells the lives of private individuals from previous generations. Using family history research, the writer has reconstructed the stories of women and men from Michigan to Illinois to the Netherlands.

Read together, the pieces create a history of women dealing with infant mortality, vanity, housewife skills, divorce, secret abortion, the artist versus mother dilemma, mysterious death, wife beating, and a brave heroine saving a family’s home.

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The Author

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 several journals. She has been a Fellow at the Center for Ideas and Society at the University of California, Riverside, where she studied English and creative writing at the University of California, Riverside (Ph.D.)

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She also studied at 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. An avid blogger, Luanne can be found at luannecastle.com. She divides her time between California and Arizona, where she shares land with a herd of javelina.

My Thoughts

The stories of ancestors help keep them alive. Luanne Castle does that regularly on her blog called “The Family Kalamazoo,” but in this slim volume of 19 poems and flash prose, she captures individuals with a vignette of well-chosen details that give you goosebumps, even a lump in your throat. They are poignant, sharing some harsh scenes as well as how one name is so ubiquitous in her ancestry.

I especially enjoyed the one about family resemblances in old photographs, and noting the names, dates, and places as her forebears crossed the ocean from The Netherlands and Germany and settled in Michigan. I also enjoyed finding pictures of some of these on her genealogy blog.

This delightful chapbook helps keep alive individuals largely forgotten otherwise. A creative way to approach genealogy.

 

15 comments

  1. How nice to see a review of one of Luanne’s books of poetry. I keep meaning to buy one (though I think I’d like to start with her earlier book, Doll God and work up to this Kin Types!) As well as her Family Kalamazoo blog, she has another genealogy-based blog for her husband’s family that’s also worth a look, here: https://enteringthepale.com/

  2. I am so glad you read her book and your review was just wonderful. I bought her book some time back and love it πŸ™‚ Yes – she has the other site for her husband πŸ™‚ You would enjoy it too – Sharon

  3. Joy, thank you so much. I am so touched! Nothing better than a sympathetic reader! Although I do like breaking through a brick wall–and cats ;).

    • I usually feature books on Wednesdays, but they’re almost always history or historical fiction. Yours is the first poetry one (but not the last)! I was so intrigued by approaching genealogy in a new way (for me, at least).

      • Yes, I have not found another book that does what Kin Types does. In fact, when I first started writing the poems and submitting them to literary journals I despaired that anybody was going to want them. Then all of a sudden they started getting accepted. When the chapbook got a finalist award from a major national book prize I was pretty GOBSMACKED but it showed me that the time had come for genealogy literature! I can’t wait to see more writers doing this sort of thing!

    • Thank you, Amy. This was my second time to savor it, first time to feature a poetry book on a Wednesday. I usually review history or historical fiction, but am branching out!

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