Books

Letters to Colin Firth 

Praise:

“On the surface, the writing was boldly funny, and I never once felt alienated that the letters weren’t addressed to me directly. I knew they were for Colin Firth, for Katherine, for me, and for anyone else willing to take part in the journey they lay out. Over time, the letters reveal a quiet depth that sneaks in and spreads itself thick across each page. The density of it speaks for itself. Start reading for tea and trip to England, and stay for a run through the tar pits of grief.”  —Nicole Oquendo, contest judge

“With language that is both frankly conversational and lyrically beautiful, Riegel trusts her wasps to Colin, and to us. On April 17th she writes, “Me, these days I’m as shameless as a god and as directive: I’m distributing flyers, wearing my own face on a t-shirt, carrying a big sign with an arrow pointing down saying Love me.” To admit such difficulties as asserting the desire for acceptance and love takes bravery, and Riegel’s honesty is just that—the kind of bravery that is too often confused with sentimentality or weakness, the bravery that Mr. Darcy and Lizzie Bennett must possess to set aside their pride and open themselves to love. This vulnerability and openness is generous; as a reader I am validated in my own emotional experiences and welcomed to join Riegel in the drawing room of her distress. In that place of unending, cyclical emotion she offers us the same comfort she receives from Colin Firth.” —Elizabeth Theriot, in a review for Black Warrior Review

“The letters are self-aware and recognize both the absurdity of their destination and also the fact that they’re more than just letters to Colin Firth…The chapbook, despite the poetry in its language and depth of its emotion, seems structured like a good rom-com with an ending to rival the best of them, allowing readers to hope for a sequel—starring, of course, Colin Firth.” —Kimberly Ann Southwick, in a review for the Ploughshares blog

                           Watch the book trailer. 

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From the book:

“I wonder what People magazine has had to say about you over the years? And is it easy for you to ignore whatever they say, to let all that go, to live in the secret revolutions of dark and light inside your own ribcage?”

“What do you need kept alive, what do you need touched gentle inside so you can bloom again?”

“Every day I get older and for some reason the world doesn’t panic.”

“Is that what happens when a marriage ends? Everyone dies but we go on anyway: disappearing, reappearing, falling. Our arms too heavy to keep up the old struggle, our new selves less delicate than we thought.”

“You never really know someplace until you’ve been there. Today at 1:42pm, I was there. Wherever happy is.”

“I have said this before but no matter where I go I am always leaving.”

 

 

What the Mouth Was Made For 

Praise:

“The poems in What the Mouth Was Made For are mystical meditations, at once lyrical, tender, and profoundly felt, each poem flying directly into the heart. Indeed, if the heart had a mouth, these are the kinds of poems it would speak.”   —Nin Andrews

“In this new collection, Katie Riegel tends ‘what must be tended.’ Line by line, with clarity enough to sting your eyes, she rekindles that tender and slightly crazed engagement with life that shaped us before we got used to the world. I found myself unjaded for hours at a time. These poems are fresh food for the head and heart, which is what poetry should be–and what most of us desperately need. Get this book. Get full.”   —Tim Seibles

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From the book:

KATIE-LESS

In a world without me, hundreds—no,

thousands—of people would have one less crush

in their lives. My friends

would have a name melting

in the back of their minds like a sugar cube,

a name they’d never learned but knew

despite logic. In a world without

me, stars would retreat

a short distance, considering their places

again; grass would stand watching

the road for something

to happen; trees would take

deep breaths and remain stoic.

Everything I love would be less

loved—and wouldn’t that

be a shame? Sometimes I think about

being a horse in a blue pasture, a hawk crying

my heart out to the wind. But I wouldn’t be

anything in a world without me, even less

than the first sweet molecules of hydrogen and oxygen

to touch your lips

when you tilt a glass of water back

to slake your thirst.

 

Castaway

Praise:

“In Castaway, Katie Riegel writes of the haunting lights and darks of childhood, a place where ‘the corn is so tall a child could walk into it and disappear’ and winters where ‘sun strik[es] off ice like organ music.’ This is one of the few books of poetry that has a genuine heartbeat. You’ll swear you can even hear a pulse, or maybe that could just be your heart sighing and heaving as you turn the page. These poems nearly glitter with the sad-lovely sense that you can’t ever go home again, but in Riegel’s sure and steady poems, you will find a new, dear friend that will make an attempt so very worth your while.” —Aimee Nezhukumatathil

“In these haunted, green-drenched, and wind-blown poems set in the open plains of the Midwest, Katherine Riegel deftly wrestles with themes of erosion and impermanence: a home that is lost and now only exists as the idea of home, a family’s slow-motion unraveling, bodies lost to illness, and selves lost to time. A castaway from a lost paradise that can’t ever quite be gotten back to, the speaker in these poems mourns ‘the hard half-truth/of a child’s ownership–that whatever/one has can always be taken away,’ igniting a series of meditations on all that’s cast away, irretrievably lost, and sometimes–through an acceptance of the ultimate unrecoverability of things–unexpectedly returned to us in different incarnations. ‘You know yourself/what wounds is the same/for all of us,’ Riegel writes, and these are indeed poems of piercing clarity and compassion.” —Lee Ann Roripaugh

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From the book:

LOST

Through fields of swaying grasses

that bloom and rise        a dark flock

under monuments laughing in the earth and seeping salt

we ride in tiny open cars, in baskets, on sleds, on

horseback        We navigate

gray trees capes catching ghosts in our hands

(they glow like fireflies) and still

we rove        we move        always moving

 

because sometimes a whisper crawls

towards us        a tendril curling and grasping

prehensile        It carries red stones on its tongue

It speaks of all

we have given away        all we have yet

to know

and we want

to ask it questions        to listen at night

our foreheads pressed to cold

windows

 

We want

nothing that we have        We

want to stop        We want to

arrive at the green river

where someone familiar will take us by the elbow

and help us board the glittering barge

 

All of Us (as editor) All of Us cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Manifesto 

Drawing from a variety of philosophies and spiritual traditions, The Manifesto lays out ten suggestions for living a freer life, and encourages readers to write their own manifestos.Manifesto cover

From the book:

“I will not judge myself. I will be as gentle and compassionate with myself as I would with a friend…”

“It seems easy to fear the inner life, and the privacy and solitude required to nurture one. Many of us fill up our minutes with everything we can think of…”

“…there is no person whose primary relationships are simple and perfect…We are all flawed. We are all struggling.”

“To live in the present moment means understanding simply that we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“There is no way for the world to measure your wisdom or peace or understanding, your insight into yourself and your life…This dream will not be crushed by an indifferent world. Every small increment of understanding is a triumph.”

“Our great creations are our own lives.”