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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)

I'd Like a Little Flashlight

Rachel Zucker

and I'd like to get naked and into bed and be hot radiating heat from the inside these sweaters and fleeceys do nothing to keep out the out or keep my vitals in—some drafty body I've got leaking in and out in all directions I'd like to get naked into bed but hot on this early winter afternoon already dusky grim and not think of all the ways I've gone about the world and shown myself a fool, shame poking holes in my thinned carapace practically lacy and woefully feminine I'd like to get naked into bed and feel if not hot then weightless as I once was in the sensory deprivation tank in Madison, Wisconsin circa 1992 I paid money for that perfectly body-temperatured silent pitch dark tank to do what? play dead and not die? that was before email before children before I knew anything more than the deaths of a few loved ones which were poisoned nuts of swallowed grief but nothing of life of life giving which cuts open the self bursting busted unsolvable I'd like to get naked into the bed of my life but hot hot my little flicker-self trumped up somehow blind and deaf to all the dampening misery of my friends' woe-oh-ohs and I'd like a little flashlight to write poems with this lousy day not this poem I'm writing under the mostly flat blaze of bulb but a poem written with the light itself a tiny fleeting love poem to life hot hot hot a poem that would say "oh look here a bright spot of life, oh look another!"

Copyright © 2011 by Rachel Zucker. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2011 by Rachel Zucker. Used with permission of the author.

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
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
poem
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
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.