Checking In: With Michael e. Casteels

Michael e. Casteels has been a regular at the Ottawa Small Press fair making small handmade wonders on site. I think/hope I have all his illiterature magazine issues put out over the decade. Seen eight, his rubber stamped edition of 100 copies? He has chapbooks and his The Last White House at the End of the Row of White Houses which I’ve read a few times, a mix of surreal and minimalist. (Daniel Haislet describes it). I had the good fortune to publish him twice, 6 poems in 2014 and the same year 3 Chapters Towards an Epic.

PP: What have you read lately, Michael, that lit you up? Why so?

MeC: After a brief reprieve I’ve been diving deep into Westerns again. I’m currently in the midst of the Thalia trilogy, by Larry McMurtry, a Pulitzer prize winner and one of the greatest Western writers of all time. After reading a bunch of pulp/pocket westerns, it really me me up to read some literary westerns again. 

I’ve also been reading through various issues of Industrial Sabotage by jwcurry. Each issue is incredibly different in terms of content and presentation. Some are rubber-stamped on used envelopes or soup can labels, some are full-colour publications, some are collage pieces housed in a card stock envelope. Each issue delightful, and, for me as a publisher, highly educational. 

PP: What’s life’s focus these days, literary or otherwise? Baby, yes?

MeC: Yep. My primary focus in life right now is my 8-month old daughter, Etta. Most of my time is spent engaging with, and learning from her. We spend lots of time reading, and exploring the outside world. She’s a brilliant human being. 

This year I’ve also set a goal of getting at least one camping trip in per month. It’s been a good challenge that has really pushed my capabilities and expanded my outdoor confidence. I’ve slept outside at -28 and +28 so far this year. I’m excited to see what other trips will come up. 

PP: Oh my. Camping at -14 is where I bottom out. What is underway or forthcoming? Anything you can tell?

MeC: I’ve just finished my largest collage project to date. It’s a prose equivalent to visual poetry, so I’m calling it a vispro project. I’ve basically taken an entire pocket western, Hondo, by Louis L’Amour and, through various collage techniques, have rewritten it and titled it ondo. It’s 44 pages long. I thought it would take me a month or so to complete, and I spent nearly 6 months working on it. I’ve finally scanned it all and will begin sending it out to potential presses soon.

PP: Congrats on making that stage! What work out there of yours can people read at the moment? 

MeC: My most recent book is minimalist metawestern titled “The Man with the Spider Scar”. I published it through Puddles of Sky Press. It was printed and bound at Coach House Printing, and it’s a really lovely little book. Other recent titles are: Flotsam, from Timglaset & Jetsam, from Simulacrum Press, All We’ve Learned, Which Isn’t Much (With Nick Papaxanthos), from above/ground press.

PP: I missed seeing Flotsam & Jetsam somehow. This is why we ask questions. Any author site, social media urls or things you’d like to plug?

MeC: To stay up to date with my printing projects you can check out 

PP: Thanks Michael. Hopefully see you come November.