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Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form? You could say that the poem “Scrap” has been twelve years in the making. I’ve been writing a memoir of sorts since 2008. This story is also titled Scrap (subtitle: The Salvaging of a Family). The narrative version is about my relationship with my father and my own childhood. Of necessity, it also has a lot to do with my father’s “issues” and with his absent father. (Above Left: Luanne with her father Rudy. Copyright permission by Luanne Castle)
A friend who read my memoir manuscript suggested I write poems to include in the book. I decided to write a poem that would get to the heart of the memoir and use the same title. The writing of this poem is one of the only times I started with a title before I wrote a poem. (Right: Luanne with her father Rudy in 1978. Father and daughter stand in front of Stanwoods, a luggage store her father owned. Copyright permission by Luanne Castle)
I began with writing out a few lines on a legal pad, but I quickly transferred those lines over to my laptop. While I like to jot down the first images and phrases, I don’t like to stay with paper too long as it begins to define what the poem will look like. My handwriting is rather large and difficult to read. Once I get some words on the computer screen, there are more directions a poem can go. Paper is very limiting to me. I discard the paper within days, and my feeling is I can’t wait to eliminate traces of my “stupid” first lines. (Left: Luanne's writing space. Copyright by Luanne Castle)
Over the next few months I returned over and over to this poem because it felt very important to me, but while many of the lines and images were good the overall poem was horrible. For the most part, as I made changes, even one or two little ones, I saved the new draft, but didn’t keep the old. In this case, I did save a couple of the early drafts.
Finally, I felt satisfied with the poem. I must have felt it was done when I didn’t noticed anything else that jarred me with the wrong tone or image. (Right: Luanne's father Rudy in the middle, between his older sister and twin brother. Copyright by Luanne Castle)
Where were you when you started to actually write the poem? And please describe the place in great detail. I wrote the first lines of “Scrap” while sitting at the kitchen table with the legal pad and a hotel pen. I like hotel pens because they tend to flow perfectly and are not too thick for my fingers. The round table sits in front of glass doors to the garden outside. I prefer to work in the kitchen, rather than my office, because five of my six cats hang out in the kitchen. When I transferred to my laptop, I was still in the kitchen. (Luanne's father Rudy in the tree. Copyright by Luanne Castle)
What month and year did you start writing this poem? I began the poem on that legal pad on 23 August 2019.
How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? (And can you share a photograph of your rough drafts with pen markings on it?) I have no idea how many drafts I wrote as I tend to go back and make little adjustments very often. Some poems take more revision than others. “Scrap” took a lot of revision because it was an emotionally difficult poem. (Above Right Luanne's father, Rudy, far left. Copyright by Luanne Castle)
What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem? I hope that readers can feel the pain of the boy at growing up without a father and the burdens of the grandmother. And that there is a bond of love between the daughter, the father, and the father’s mother. They all share a desire to piece together the shards of their lives into art. (Right: Luanne's grandmother Marie Klein. Copyright by Luanne Castle.)
Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why? The first two lines—“A scrappy boy fuses / himself a father out of wants”—is emotional for me because my father was a street kid and had to create himself a father in his imagination. I know the emotional toll this took on my father. Also, “the secret / middle name shared under / its double-locked hiding place” hits me in the solar plexus when I read it because we all suffered from the secrecy involved around my grandfather.
Has this poem been published before? And if so where? My poem “Scrap” was published in the December 2020 issue of Anti-Heroin Chic.
Luanne Castle's Kin Types (Finishing Line), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Award. Her first poetry collection, Doll God (Aldrich), was winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. 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, Glass, Verse Daily, American Journal of Poetry, Broad Street, and other journals.