As a child, I loved reading about times past. Biographies of famous women like Lucrezia Borgia and Annie Oakley let me experience life in the periods in which they lived. Historical fiction lent a sense of adventure to realistic depictions of old England or the American colonial period. Time travel became my favorite fantasy.
But I never associated those times with my ancestors. The people who came before me were my three living grandparents, and the oldest person I knew, my grandfather’s aunt. I thought they had always been old.
As I became a teen, my grandfather began to tell me stories about our ancestors, and while they were interesting and I remembered them, I still didn’t put these relatives in my mind’s image of the Gilded Age and before. But then, when I was in college, my grandfather decided to show me his large collection of antique family portraits, photographs, and glass negatives.
Examining their faces and clothing in the portraits and their attitudes and poses in the snapshots, I began to see them as they were during their own times: living, breathing people just like me, but driving Models Ts or horse-drawn wagons. I could see what their houses and yards looked like. I could see them goofing around with each other.
I began to research more about these people, and as I did I began to collect more photos, heirlooms, documents, and stories about them. The more information I collected, the more passionate I became about revealing who they were.
Ultimately, once I had enough material in hand, I knew that I needed to write their stories because there was nobody else to tell them. And anyway I was driven to recreate their lives as I could imagine them.
That’s how I came to write Kin Types, a chapbook of poetry and lyric prose. Like my first book, Doll God, the poems are strong on imagery, but while that collection focuses on lyric poetry, the new book intersperses lyric with prose poems and other techniques of flash nonfiction.
Check out the reviews for Kin Types on Amazon if you want to find out more about the book.
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. Kin Types (Finishing Line Press) was a semi-finalist in the Concrete Wolf Chapbook Contest.
Winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards, Doll God, published by Aldrich Press, studies traces of the spirit world in human-made and natural objects–a Japanese doll, a Palo Verde tree, a hummingbird. Her exploration leads the reader between the twin poles of nature and creations of the imagination in dolls, myth, and art.
Luanne’s poetry and prose have appeared in Phoebe, Six Hens, Story Shack, The Antigonish Review, Crack the Spine, Grist, TAB, River Teeth, Lunch Ticket, The Review Review, and many other journals. Luanne has been a Fellow at the Center for Ideas and Society at the University of California, Riverside. She studied English and creative writing at UCR (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and the Stanford University writing certificate program. She taught college English for fifteen years. 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. She divides her time between California and Arizona, where she shares land with a herd of javelina. Her heart belongs to her six cats and the homeless cats at the animal shelter where she volunteers.
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