Quoted: Michael E. Casteels' The Last White House at the End of the Row of White Houses

October 4, 2016

Michael E. Casteels debut poetry collection was just published by Invisible Publishing: The Last White House at the End of the Row of White Houses. With a title like that we were intrigued to learn more about Michael and his inspiration. From moths to dogs, Michael shares with us two memorable quotes that he kept coming back to as he was writing pieces for this collection.

See more details below

Quoted_Header_Updated

 

Michael E. Casteels debut poetry collection was just published by Invisible Publishing: The Last White House at the End of the Row of White Houses. With a title like that we were intrigued to learn more about Michael and his inspiration. From moths to dogs, Michael shares with us two memorable quotes that he kept coming back to as he was writing pieces for this collection.

 

* * *

 

Inv_Quoted_2

 

I read Tomas Tranströmer’s collected poems in a matter of days. I felt an immediate affinity towards his poetry, his quiet and precise imagery, his use of metaphor instead of simile, the subtle darkness that infused each piece. It was a strange experience, reading through his entire body of work in less than a week. At one point the poems blurred together. I couldn’t pin a certain line to its poem. I’d reread a poem and not realize until I was halfway through. It was like walking through someone else’s dream. Upon waking, certain images stood out and took on a profound importance, but none so much as the image of moths settling on the windowpane, these small, pale telegrams from the world. 

Now, I see these moths settling on the windows of the last white house at the end of the row of white houses. The moths are made of paper and folded like origami. On their wings is writing so small I need a magnifying glass to read it. And when I do, I see that they are poems, typed, as if by a mouse using a tiny typewriter.

 

INV_Quoted

 

This quotation strikes closer to my heart than the previous. Anyone who knows me personally, or has added me on Facebook, will immediately understand the reference to my dog, Donkin. Years ago, when Donkin was still a puppy, my friend Bryan was reading The Pearl and pointed out this line to me. I always liked the idea that Steinbeck had unknowingly written about my dog sixty-two years before he was born.

Donkin appears a few times throughout my book, though always as a nameless black dog. He is also present in many poems that don’t mention a dog directly. Much of my writing takes place while on long walks; “Writing by Streetlight” is one such poem. I had taken Donkin out for his last walk of the night, and had originally planned on following our usual route along the Cataraqui River. That night, our walk took us from the river into downtown Kingston. Every time Donkin stopped to smell or pee on something I’d jot down some notes… a mountain bike rattling its chain, yellow leaves scattering like discarded parking tickets, a payphone longing for someone to talk to... By the time we got home, over an hour later, the poem was pretty much finished. Many of my poems are written in such a way.

And even though Donkin will never read my book, it still was important to me to honor him for being such an inspiration to my poetry and to my life in general… Though, to be honest, he probably would have preferred a treat.

 

* * *

 

Thank you to Invisible Publishing for sharing this collection with us, and for connecting us with Michael, who so generously shared these anecdotes with us.


Discuss


comments powered by Disqus