Paige Riehl selected as Loft mentor series winner

Paige Riehl, a writing teaching at Anoka-Ramsey Community College, has been named a Loft Mentor Series Winner in the poetry category.

Paige Riehl, a writing teaching at Anoka-Ramsey Community College, has been named a 2012 Loft Mentor Series Winner. Photo submitted

Paige Riehl, a writing teaching at Anoka-Ramsey Community College, has been named a 2012 Loft Mentor Series Winner. Photo submitted

Riehl is one of 12 emerging writers selected to participate in the 2012-13 Loft Mentor Series.

The program aligns her and the other winners with nationally acclaimed writers, who will serve as mentors.

“I really was so excited when I got the news,” Riehl told the ABC Newspapers.

Especially since she applied last year and came in as a finalist, just short of being named a winner, she said.

The Mentor Series competition this year attracted 223 entries, 52 in the poetry category. The pool was narrowed to 20 finalists and, ultimately, to 12. Four candidates were selected as winners in the poetry category.

Applicants were asked to submit a goal statement, biography statement and samples of their work. Riehl submitted 18 pages of poetry, with themes ranging from her grandmother to rural life (she grew up in Rosholt, S.D.) to travel in Greece.

Riehl’s poems have appeared in publications and online journals and magazines. She has been published in Meridian, the Saint Paul Almanac, South Dakota Review and Nimrod. She was named a finalist for the 2011 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry sponsored by Nimrod International Journal

Earlier this year Riehl, who lives in St. Paul, took first place in a national poetry contest sponsored by Literal Latte, a New York-based online literary magazine.

She won for a piece she wrote titled “Edie Watches the Tsunami from her Bed at Life Care Rehabilitation Center in Last Vegas, March 2011.” The top honor came with a $1,000 prize.

The poem is about her grandmother, Edie, 93, at the time, who was struggling with health issues, when a tsunami shook Japan. Edie was trying to follow the disaster on TV through blurred vision.

As a Loft poetry mentee, Riehl will work closely with nationally recognized mentor poets Jude Nutter and Oliver de la Paz from September to June.

“I am thrilled to work with these poets,” she said.

The winners will also have the opportunity to learn from fiction and nonfiction mentors.

Riehl’s goal is to publish a book of poetry.

“I’m excited to improve my own writing,” she said about having won the honor.

She hopes the workshops will inspire her to write new poetry and that she will learn how to more efficiently revise poems she has already written, she said in her application to the program.

Riehl hopes the program will teach her more about putting a book together. Ultimately, her students at Anoka-Ramsey Community College will benefit from her learning sessions, she said.

Riehl this fall is starting her 11th year of teaching writing at ARCC.

Based in Minneapolis, The Loft Literary Center is a nonprofit arts organization with a mission to support writer’s artistic development, to foster a writing community and to build an audience for literature, according to The Loft’s website.

The mentor series is funded by the Jerome Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, RBC Wealth Management and members of the Loft.

Elyse Kaner is at elyse.kaner@ecm-inc.com


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