Edgemere, Steven Riel’s second full-length collection, was published in August 2021.
Shapeshifting abounds in Steven Riel’s latest collection, as this pro-feminist gay poet marshals a parade of female personas that includes Senator Elizabeth Dole, Joan of Arc, and The Supremes. Riel’s poems zigzag across liminal spaces not just between male/female and human/inhuman, but between those fallen from AIDS and survivors who grieve them.
Praise for the Book
“Steven Riel’s Edgemere is gorgeous, heartbreaking, and witty—often at the same time. With exquisite precision and extraordinary musicality, Riel traces the shimmering, fragile webs of love, experience, and culture that connect us to one another. From the inner life of bullied “sissy boys” to the ravages of AIDS to inimitable pop culture reveries such as “In Search of Della Street,” Riel’s language creates a poetic space in which the individual, sometimes idiosyncratic perspectives he explores open into vistas on what it means to be human.” — Joy Ladin, author of The Future is Trying to Tell Us Something
“Riel’s poetry invites us to time travel back to TV shows, the civil rights movement, Reagan-era politics, the impact of the AIDS pandemic, and the losses that ensued, including his own brother. These touching and evocative poems are elegies, but also, odes, celebrations of sexuality, gender, and pop culture along the journey of becoming.” — Richard Blanco, Presidential Inaugural Poet, author of How to Love a Country
“In Steven Riel’s collection Edgemere, glamor is swirled with, and deepened by, melancholy, and the comfortably domesticated is juxtaposed with the awkwardly outcast. We are shown a world bubbling with pop culture and punctured by loss. Riel finds meaning and metaphor in Lost in Space, Perry Mason, and interestingly Rosemary’s Baby when he says, ‘I want to go back to ask:/ do we lose every shred of innocence/ once we discern: that evil might smirk/ in each & every corner?’ Even an air freshener ad teaches a fifth-grade sissy it might be ‘better to pretend I’m/ the high-heeled mom in the commercial/ protecting her split-level family—/ the Glade Lady who shields what she can.’” — Michael Montlack, author of Daddy
“There’s high-color atmosphere in Natick poet Steven Riel’s latest poetry collection Edgemere... His lines and images rainbow off the page, bright, sharp, self-aware, and searching. Though that does not mean they are without their own wry darkness.” — Nina MacLaughlin, Boston Sunday Globe
“No matter how far any of us get from our childhood torments, or from the first deaths from AIDS, the pain never quits calling us back. Even humor can only partially assuage the sting. But for a poet like Steven Riel, the past can bring to life how memory may be a window to a new life… His poems teeter on the edge of playfulness and dread… His spare but musical language and deft shift in syntax can be riveting… Riel’s poems ride the emotional rollercoaster of love and loss in a way that feels a lot like what it means to be alive.” — Bruce Spang, The Gay & Lesbian Review
“Riel draws you in with his compelling portraits in verse and then makes it a double-whammy with his intimate personal revelations. The secret ingredient of Edgemere is its voice…: it’s uncannily the same as when Riel reads his work out loud.” — Felice Picano, author of Like People in History