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About this poet

Rachel Zucker was born in 1971 in New York City and was raised in Greenwich Village. She earned her BA in psychology at Yale University, then her MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa.

Zucker is the author of five books of poetry: The Pedestrians (Wave Books, 2014), Museum of Accidents (Wave Books, 2009), The Bad Wife Handbook (Wesleyan University Press, 2007), The Last Clear Narrative (Wesleyan University Press, 2004), and Eating in the Underworld (Wesleyan University Press, 2003). In addition to her poetry collections, Zucker has also published a memoir, MOTHERs (Counterpath Press, 2013), which details Zucker's relationship with her mother, as well as the various surrogate mothers and female mentors she has had in her life.

Zucker's work is known for its blunt, witty, and complicated takes on marriage, motherhood, familial relationships, and daily challenges. Dan Chiasson writes, “Zucker's name-naming, carping, merciless, and gloriously human body of work thus far suggests that any full account of being an individual has to register how specimen-like and interchangeable our lives often seem.”

“Zucker is a poet of bottom-scraping, blood-chilling existential anxiety, one among many, and a poet of New York City, one among many, and a poet of American Jewish inheritance, one among many, and one of the funniest, too,” writes Stephen Burt.

Her honors include the Barrow Street Poetry Prize; the Center for Book Arts Award, judged by Lynn Emanuel; the Salt Hill Poetry Award, judged by C. D. Wright; and the Strousse Award from Prairie Schooner. In 2012, she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.

Zucker currently teaches at New York University and the 92nd Street Y and is a certified labor doula. She lives in New York City.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
The Pedestrians (Wave Books, 2014)
Museum of Accidents (Wave Books, 2009)
The Bad Wife Handbook (Wesleyan University Press, 2007)
The Last Clear Narrative (Wesleyan University Press, 2004)
Eating in the Underworld (Wesleyan University Press, 2003)

Nonfiction
MOTHERs (Counterpath Press, 2013)

Diary [Surface]

Rachel Zucker
Spring is not so very promising as it is the thing
that looking back was fire, promising:
ignition, aspiration; it was not under my thumb.

Now when I pretend a future it is the moment
he holds the thing I say new-born,
delicate, sure to begin moving but

I am burned out of it like the melody underneath
(still not under my thumb)--
was he ambiguous, amphibian?

Underneath, his voice, the many ways
he gathers oxygen; it will not stop raining
until the buds push through the brittle trees.

If they fail we will not survive,
washed and washed with rain, will we?
No,we are not there yet.

She is pushing me two ways until
I am inside the paradox, the many lungs,
and they're at it again, gathering oxygen;

no wonder I am wrung out
holding out for the promise of
something secret, after--

From Eating in the Underworld by Rachel Zucker. Copyright © 2003 by Rachel Zucker. Reproduced by permission of Wesleyan University Press. All rights reserved.

From Eating in the Underworld by Rachel Zucker. Copyright © 2003 by Rachel Zucker. Reproduced by permission of Wesleyan University Press. All rights reserved.

Rachel Zucker

Rachel Zucker

Rachel Zucker was born in 1971 in New York City and was raised in Greenwich Village. She earned her BA in psychology at Yale University, then her MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa.

by this poet

poem

I skim sadness like fat off the surface
of cooling soup. Don't care about
metaphor but wish it would arrive
me. There’s a cool current of air
this hot day I want to ride.
I have no lover, not even my love.
I have no other, not even I.

poem
The other day Matt Rohrer said,
the next time you feel yourself going dark
in a poem, just don't, and see what happens.

That was when Matt, Deborah Landau,
Catherine Barnett, and I were chatting,
on our way to somewhere and something else.

In her office, a few minutes earlier, Deborah
had asked, are you happy
poem
At home, the bells were a high light-yellow
with no silver or gray just buttercup or sugar-and-lemon.

Here bodies are lined in blue against the sea.
And where red is red there is only red.

I have to be blue to bathe in the sea.
Red, to live in the red room with red air

to rest my head, red cheek down, on the