The Velocity of Love

Outstanding Achievement Award
The Wisconsin Library Association 2021

Published: 8/26/2020

Kathryn Gahl’s THE VELOCITY OF LOVE is a poetic memoir about wonder, loss, and longing. Kathryn’s magic lies in transforming unimaginable grief into everlasting grace.

Praise for The Velocity of Love

“A brave love song for a child too early lost. Prepare for a roller coaster range of emotions. And witness the love. Always the love."
— JULIA DAVIS, Director, Kiel Public Library 

"What I find most remarkable, then, is the courage to let this story unfold. Gahl returns to the joy of anticipation and is able to let it soar. She has the courage to let words do their work of re-creating what she anticipated as she anticipated it even though what she anticipated was not to be."
— Margaret Rozga, Wisconsin Poet Laureate 2019-2020, Tinderbox Poetry Journal

"Kathryn Gahl’s latest collection of poetry ... represents an act of courage from an accomplished writer. Gahl wades into the themes of love and excruciating loss in mothers’ lives, gently bringing the reader with her. In writing this collection of poems as love notes to her deceased grandson, Kathryn Gahl speaks with a grace born of pain, of witness to the joys and struggles of her adult daughter, of her own path to recovery and of her recognition and celebration of the expansiveness of the human spirit. ... Through the alchemy of love, loss, and poetry, Gahl brings us with her to the other side of tragedy and together we ascend to that lofty patch of blue."
— Sylvia Cavanaugh,
ZVONA i NARI, Cultural Production Cooperative 

"In these poems, Kathryn Gahl anticipates, celebrates, and commemorates a life, a very brief life, but one which nevertheless reverberates far beyond the reckoning of birthdays and calendars. The poems are intimate, rich with imagery, and though quite personal, wrestle with a very ancient and ongoing, and necessary human task—how to find words for joys and losses beyond words, or as one of the poems eloquently puts it, how 'to let in dark / and bend it light.'”
— Max Garland, Wisconsin Poet Laureate 2013-2014

"The Velocity of Love is a love story like no other. Written in a series of poems that follow the conception, birth, and death of her grandson, Kathryn Gahl's words fly at you with the speed and pressure of excruciating love and pain. Her words are breathtaking in their depth and clarity of what it may be like to fall in love with an angel. Before there was psychotherapy, there was poetry. Kathryn's poetry takes extreme emotions and bottles them like tinctures that heal. In so doing, she gives voice to mystic truths."
Brooke Laufer, Psy.D.

"This is a breathtaking collection of bearing witness: To magic. To the ordinary. To life. To grief. To an invisible but indestructible chord of connection. Each poem sings on its own, but strung together, they dance."
— Tara Pohlkotte, founder, Storycatchers

"Kathryn Gahl addresses her grandson from embryo to the eternal in poems that chronicle what their lives might have been together: boisterous, joyous discovery, voluminous love and snuggling. Spoken directly to the child, these poems are both beautiful and terrible. No woman, grandmother, mother should feel the need to write these, but there is the power of poetry, its ability to say the unsayable. "Everywhere / I feel you: my head wobbly, / ribs imprisoned, heart seizing / at the thought of you /...." These poems will break your heart."
— Karla Huston, Wisconsin Poet Laureate 2017-2018

"Kathryn Gahl's The Velocity of Love is a rollercoaster read - the slow rise with a gorgeous view, the foreboding pause at the top, and then the unbearable plummet. These poems are both ethereal and meaty, beautiful renderings of a terrible experience. A genuine wow."
— Cathryn Cofell, author of Stick Figure With Skirt

"The Velocity of Love is a balm in Gilead which Kathryn Gahl delivers in a concise language of everyday life. Gahl unflinchingly carries us with her through a crucible of loss, which ultimately reveals itself to be a pathway of love-a love which forges a universalizing wholeness of being. Gahl invites the reader in with 'the small of me in the arc of you,' and 'Be beautiful. / Be fierce. / Be anything but mad.' With a clarity of vision, such as 'how we hold our / head to joy / because we have seen / another side,' Gahl shows us how to 'favor circles over straight lines' and embrace life's gifts-'such a fine beat / I shall dance to it.'"
— Sylvia Cavanaugh, author of Icarus: An Anthropology of Addiction