Riegel’s first book of poetry is Castaway (FutureCycle Press 2010). Her
poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals,
including Brevity, Crazyhorse, the Cream City Review, and
the Gettysburg Review. She is co-founder and poetry editor for the
independent online journal Sweet: A Literary Confection (sweetlit.com).
She teaches at the University of South Florida and lives in Brandon. Her website
Statement of Poetics
I was lucky enough to grow up in a reading household. We had a big wall of books in the living room, and those included classic children’s books—heavily weighted towards the early 20th century—as well as the poetry of Robert Frost, Rudyard Kipling, Dorothy Parker, Sara Teasdale, the Romantic Poets and more. My parents quoted poetry like some people quote the Bible; not didactically, but easily and naturally. Profound truths were delivered in beautiful language. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, Frost and my parents said.
When I grew old enough to think about religion—how my family went to an Episcopal church that had incense on the high holy days and kneelers in the pews while some of my friends went to Baptist churches where communion came as grape juice in tiny paper cups—I wanted to learn more. I wanted to figure it out. But while some verses from the King James made me thrill inside, church in general was boring no matter what kind it was. I wanted something bigger. I wanted spirituality; I wanted to be moved; I wanted to feel that all this mattered.
It took me a while to realize that poetry was my religion, even though I started writing it in 3rd grade, even though I wrote folk songs through my teen angst years, even though I preferred writing poetry to fiction as a college student (but took more fiction classes because they offered fewer in poetry). Only when I dropped out of law school to become a poet did I get an inkling of what it meant to me.
So I suppose I am a poetry mystic. I want poems to make me swoon, to take me to other planes, to explain and educate and question and provoke and comfort. I want to keep trying to figure it all out, over and over again.
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