Blue Whale Phenomena


Blue Whale Phenomena

My debut poetry collection, Blue Whale Phenomena, 2019 from Otis Books (Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California) is available for purchase at Small Press Distribution: 

Purchase here. Thank you.


Blue Whale Phenomena praise

 "We hope to share some intimacy with poets, but books of poems cannot be approached as though they are true entrances into poets’ lives. Yet accomplished books of poems offer us some intimacy with poets’ minds and their machinations. Blue Whale Phenomena introduces Steve Castro as a relentless storyteller and story interrupter—inventing narrative moments or instead etching his brilliant quirks into the narratives with which we were born into the world. Like the cowhand in his poem “Two-Bullet Cowgirl Blues,” Castro—often within the same poem—kills with his first associative shot only to reanimate with his second. I would say Castro is taking his place in a poet constellation with other twinkling voices such as Walid Bitar, Elaine Equi and Charles Simic." 

Kyle Dargan, Associate Professor of Literature, American University, Washington, D.C. Winner of the Cave Canem Prize for The Listening (2004). Bouquet of Hungers (2007) was awarded the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. His latest collection Anagnorisis (2018) was published by TriQuarterly/Northwestern University Press.


“Steve Castro’s Blue Whale Phenomena depicts the world as it really is, with all its strange correspondences and upended situations, the never-could-be-expected always, you might say expectedly, what happens next. In this tome of a debut, Castro shows his poetic range and intelligence and marvelous sense of curiosity, as well as his particular mastery of the image, which fixes him within a lineage of writers that includes Poe and Baudelaire, and farther back, to Coleridge and Blake. I love his writing and am thrilled to celebrate this beautiful arrival.”

David Keplinger, Professor, Department of Literature, American University, Washington, D.C.; winner of the 2019 UNT Rilke Prize (Another City, Milkweed, 2018); winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize (1999) for The Rose Inside selected by Mary Oliver (1935-2019). 

"Steve Castro is a contemporary surrealist in the spirit of James Tate and Russell Edson and Charles Simic. His poems, imaginative, fearless and full of wit, take us into new and strange worlds that resemble our own in dark and scary ways."

Maura Stanton, Emeriti Faculty, Department of English, Indiana University-Bloomington; winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize for Snow on Snow (1974), selected by Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006); winner of the O. Henry Award (2014).


"The sharp-witted poems in Blue Whale Phenomena are ingenious parables that poke holes through expectations and deflate the inflated ego. By taking English idioms at their literal word, they shift our perspectives, divulge injustice, reveal human suffering and resilience. Like the immigrants in “Arriving Miracles,” Steve Castro’s intrepid poems have the power to walk through walls and locked gates. They speak in tongues and tongue-in-cheek. This is an amazing book, an astonishing first collection."

Shari Wagner, was Indiana's fifth Poet Laureate (2016-2017). She is the author of three poetry books, her latest being The Farm Wife's Almanac (Published in 2019 by Cascadia Publishing House under the DreamSeeker Books imprint as part of the DreamSeeker Poetry Series, Vol. 16)