Riel Publishes Postcard from P-town

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Steven Riel at his senior reading at New England College this past July.

Steven Riel, Head of HCL/FAS Cataloging Support Services in HCL Technical Services, has been writing poetry since high school. As part of his recently completed MFA in poetry undertaken at New England College (NEC) in Henniker, NH, the published author penned his third poetry manuscript. A 23-page selection from this volume, titled Postcard from P-town, has been selected as the runner-up for the inaugural Robin Becker Chapbook Prize, awarded to an original, unpublished manuscript by a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered writer. Seven Kitchens Press will publish Postcard in February 2009.

Riel’s newest chapbook is actually part of a larger 60-page manuscript written during the MFA program. “For the last two years, we’ve been churning out a poem a week. It’s a balance,” said Riel of juggling his poetry and his work at Technical Services. “I write first drafts on the weekend, and I revise on the train´┐Żbut I write at home.”

Postcard from P-town was selected for runner-up honors by judge Robin Becker, who wrote, "What do Tennessee Williams, Lena Horne, Chris Evert, Robert Goulet and Kitty Carlisle have in common? Steven Riel celebrates them all in this stylish collection of poems that examines the social construction of 'effeminancy' with an ironic artfulness, looking at gender performance in fresh and probing ways."

Riel already has two previously published books of poetry to his credit. His first, How to Dream, examines gay identity and experience and was published by Amherst Writers & Artists Press in 1992 with the help of a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. His second, The Spirit Can Crest, published in 2003, describes the process of losing his younger brother to AIDS.

Riel hopes eventually to publish Postcard from P-town in its entirety.