A feast of words, an enchantment, a wonderful book.

Each day leading up to the April 16 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature 2011 Poetry finalist:

Sin Eater
William Reichard
MidList Press
Category Sponsor: Wellington Management


An excerpt from Sin Eater:

The room was full of stars.

Their light white, iridescent.

The blue behind them, darker
than my darkest dream.

He was there.  He wore
a shirt embroidered with stars.

Against that night sky,

I could barely see him.

I thought it better to stay,
discontent as I was.

As I woke, he threw
the window open.

The vacuum was broken.
All of the stars rushed out.

Sin Eater takes its title from a funeral rite practiced in England, Scotland and Wales. The ritual was usually performed by a beggar hired to pray over the deceased while consuming a meal prepared by the family. This act of consumption, it was believed, would remove the sins from the dead person and transfer them to the “sin eater”- whose own soul, thereafter, was irrevocably damned. The poems explore family, loss, love, regret, doubt and faith.


William Reichard holds a Ph.D. in Contemporary American Literature and an M.A. in Creative Writing


“The voice in the poems of Sin Eater is thoughtful but never hesitant; it refuses to impress me with razzle-dazzle; it asks, instead, that I sit in a garden at dusk and listen quietly. I admire these poems’ emotional complexity, and the dailiness in them that continues to unfold and expand as I read.” – MN Book Awards preliminary judge

“William Reichard’s Sin Eater prepares for us a feast of words, lays it lovingly around the body of beliefs inhabitants of a contemporary world must mourn, and invites us to partake. Master of the terrifying understatement, Reichard gives us poems that walk us calmly toward the empty shell and demonstrate the utter pointlessness of imagining that paradise is anywhere but in the smallest details of the here and now. – Leslie Adrienne Miller (The Resurrection Trade)

“The poems in Sin Eater often have at their center a disarming modesty. Their narrator may be standing at a kitchen sink doing dishes or sitting on a tiny patio listening to the neighbors on their stoops.  But somehow the neighborhood becomes the world and the quietness becomes a protected space which makes room for the mystery and longing at the heart of these poems. William Reichard’s poems begin by charming  their readers and end by compelling them: it’s an enchantment that makes Sin Eater a wonderful book.” – Jim Moore (Lightning at Dinner)

Read more:

William Reichard

Mudlark Poster No. 84 (2009) – Four Poems by William Reichard


Award winners will be announced at the 23rd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 16, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 and are available by clicking here or calling 651-222-3242.

Have you read Sin Eater? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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