Nothing Below But Air, published in March, 2014 by Main Street Rag, is a full length collection in four sections that explores connections between the inner and outer world of the poet. The cover art is from a painting by Chrys Riviere-Blalock, my first cousin. It is our first collaboration.
Poet Fred Chappell says, “only the faint-hearted could resist these poems,” and certainly I cannot. They dare take us into the territory of love and desire, past loves and a wild nature the poet listens to and celebrates like a “summons from a savage world.” Delving into the territory of madness and connection, mountain bears and she-cats, wild flings and married love, feminine identity and survival, Riviere-Seel looks at her life through the sharply focused lens of a woman older and wiser, but still drawn to the wild heart of things. Balanced with contemplative poems that explore communes and yoga, meditation and prayer, this poet’s first full-length collection is an exhilarating plunge into the world of the body and spirit. —Marjorie Hudson author of Searching for Virginia Dare and Accidental Birds of the Carolinas
The Serial Killer’s Daughter won the NC Literary and Historical Society’s 2009 Roanoke-Chowan Award for poetry. The manuscript was a finalist in the Main Street Rag Chapbook Contest. These poems arise from reported and actual events from the life and execution of Velma Barfield. Velma, from eastern NC, was convicted in 1978 of first degree murder in the poisoning death of her fiancé. She confessed to poisoning at least three others who died, including her mother. When she was executed in November 1984 in Raleigh NC, her survivors included a daughter, a son, and three grandchildren. Although based on factual and reported information, the poems, like all poems, are works of imagination.
Pat Riviere-Seel’s The Serial Killer’s Daughter lays a heavy burden on its reader: a burden that asks the reader to hold the tension between the emotions of anger and desire for vengeance and the emotions of pity and compassion. Merging her experience as a newspaper reporter with her esteemed poetic skill, Riviere-Seel has transformed a journalistic sensation into a work of terrible beauty. This book moves us all, in the end, toward an unknowable continent, which is, perhaps, the human heart in all its vast complexities. —Cathy Smith Bowers