Monday, March 20, 2023

Our Wolves by Luanne Castle - Review

I really loved this slim volume of poetry. These are poetic "stories" derived from the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. Anyone who knows me knows I love fairy tales and retellings of the tales. The tale is used effectively with unique portrayals of Red, and the wolf. The wolf is an abusive father, a killer, a sex offender...many precarious scenarios. Yet not all the poems portray Red as a victim. 
I don't think I've ever read a collection quite like this. I have an extensive poetry collection and I know I will be returning to this volume again and again.

Love this quote at the front of the book:

"The wolves in the woods have sharp teeth and long claws, 
but it's the wolf inside who will tear you apart." 
--Jennifer Donnelly, Stepsister

Some of my favorites were:
What Happens in the Dark When It's Cold Outside
You All Been Waiting for a Wolf Confession
How to Digest the Wolf
Your Sonnet

Advance Praise:

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

“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

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.

Available on Amazon.



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  1. Thanks for your review. I have bumped into this for a while, and now I am going to request it form my library. I am really intrigued

    1. I hope you will check it out. It's definitely worth reading.

    2. I hope you check out this poetry collection.

  2. Thank you so much for reviewing Our Wolves. I am so happy that you enjoyed the poems!

    1. You're welcome! Thanks for writing such beautiful and thought provoking poetry.

  3. Thank you for reading Luanne's collection and reviewing it.

  4. I'm looking forward to reading Our Wolves! From the reviews, I would say I'm in for a real treat!

  5. I'm looking forward to reading Our Wolves. From the reviews I've read, I would say I'm in for a real treat!

  6. I'm not much of a poetry reader but this one does look intriguing with elements from fairytales!

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