“The River Won’t Hold You is a haunted, burning house of poems. Karin Gottshall’s voice is completely unique, but there’s a strange ancientness here, and what is left to mystery in these poems is often as important as what is explicit. Gottshall is an imagery magician, and a musician, too. Her poetry is unforgettable, significant, and lovely.” —Laura Kasischke
Crocus (Fordham University Press, 2007)
“Crocus turns the ordinary interior worlds created by myth, art and memory into the extraordinary.
“Karin Gottshall’s debut is fresh and bracing as a new snow; she weds a tender regard for the world of things to just enough disenchantment to make that love feel real. These poems understand that the will to join ourselves to the world sits right beside the desire to fly above and away from it, and Crocus renders that energizing contradiction in language alive with a crystalline exactness.”—Mark Doty
Swan (Argos Books, 2014)
Karin Gottshall’s Swan finds extraordinarily vivid patterns of emotion evident in the materials of the “everyday.” In the tradition of great American female life-lyricists—Lyn Henjian, Elizabeth Bishop, Barbara Guest—Gottshall generously allows readers not only to think about childhood, the passage of time, and the vulnerability of objects, but to feel those phenomena. Her deft handling of the lines between interior and exterior—and between “then” and “now”—merits reading and re-reading. The transformative nature of these poems invites the reader to study Gottshall’s language closely, and to study the emotional syntax of her own life in turn.
Almanac for the Sleepless (Dancing Girl Press, 2012)
We were taken, for our amusement and edification, to a large gallery in the city. The Roman gods looked down on us from the great height of their stone plinths, and we dared one another to stroke their calves when the nuns weren’t looking. A number of girls disappeared into paintings, never to emerge. Helen rolled up her skirt waist in the washroom and seduced a docent—we last saw them embracing behind a late Doric column, his hand at the small of her back, her eyes closed….
All in all, we were a much smaller group on the return trip, and many of the remaining girls were weeping. I heard one of the sisters say, Well, at least we won’t have the expense of feeding so many.
Today when we lined up for porridge I accidentally slopped some on the heel of the girl in front of me, and she pushed me so hard against the table I got a bruise on my hip shaped exactly like a crucifix. Everyone is asking to see it! I wish you were here—a new litter of fox kits has just been born. Some of the older foxes are dressing in uniform now, taking the place of the girls we lost at the museum. They go to lessons and everything, and the sisters don’t even notice.
All my love,
Flood Letters (Argos Books, 2011)
The epistolary poems in Karin Gottshall’s Flood Letters defy all expectations. In her hands, the familiar Biblical story of the Flood is radically transformed, addressed by the intimate, unflinching voice of one who has mastered the poetics of disaster.