Katharine Rauk’s poems represent the lyric in action: a gutsy engagement in self-composition, world-building, cosmos-reaming that is as audacious as it is gorgeous. Night is a "klepto surgeon," whose pockets must be ransacked to get her good days back, and—in a masterful riff—God’s crotch is "a vacancy / sign at some roadside motel / where I check myself in / on nights the moon / is an icy highball / sailing me into the sound / the semis make going down on / Hwy 53..." Her speaker’s relationship with the reader/lover is all attraction/repulsion, hide and seek, playful, erotic, and always on the verge of the Big Bang. Rauk’s imagination is an enormous dream gumball machine: Slide in a quarter and you’ll get more than you bargained for.
—Diane Seuss, author of Four-Legged Girl, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
"What the heart wants / is not so much / what it sees / as what it invents." My heart cleaved immediately to these poems, which are scintillating with invention. Even when striking grave or sorrowful notes, their cascading images made me giddy. Reading these poems is like suddenly being able to fly! Such delight and surprise! Such deft vascillation between fact and fancy! Such pleasure in the range of manifestations of this poet’s imagination. Other ways of being, other knowledges and logics are constantly proposed, interpenetrating. Rauk’s is a lovely, original, vivid, self-effacing voice: mysterious and passionate in just the right measure.
—Amy Gerstler, author of Scattered at Sea
Katharine Rauk’s poem are the very definition of delight. She possesses the gift of lyric tension and surprise. Each line break held a leap I didn’t see coming, from postage stamps crying out to be kissed, to joyriding storms, to a book of feathers opening over a river. These poems are forays into joys, especially the joy of language itself—that miscreant creator, that panhandling heart whose song will not spare you.
—Traci Brimhall, author of Saudade and Our Lady of the Ruins
"Haunted and haunting, lit by the distant flickering candlelight of childhood folktales, Katharine Rauk’s poems are full of magical smells, ambitious insects and weeping toads. She takes us on dizzying trips inside the body’s dark cavern. These grave and bright poems introduce us to an animistic universe of giddy possibility—hallucinatory, mysterious and beautiful."
"Some say the best time to leave a party is just before it peaks; leave everyone else in the room wanting more. That's how this chapbook makes me feel—a basil leaf left in the mouth for the great untold adventure that lies ahead. Neruda our tutelary guide in all his surreal erotic gusto. Rarely has formal invention and variation felt so necessary. Never has frustration felt so good."
"In Basil, Katharine Rauk offers up a flurry of searing images that is precise, worldly, near-angelic, and wholly sensuous. Out of the "unmanned / mansion of her mind" emerges a lucid stream of poems that this reader finds wonderfully idiomatic and sure-footed in tone and vision. There is a unique power to her imagination that movingly explores love, intimacy, and the natural world with linguistic flair and liveliness. I cannot imagine a more propitious addition and greater proof to our belief in what makes poetry essential to our lives than this book you now hold in your hands."
"Welcome to the pleasures of Katharine Rauk's world, a world that feels as ancient as fairytales and as recent as texting. Here there is a mix of "rubied light" and "blooming dark" and everything is still in the process of being born, as if there were no DNA and the Creator continued to make each leaf from scratch. Be willing to be lost here. When you find yourself again, you'll be new."