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Rachel Zucker

The Pedestrians

The Pedestrians

By Rachel Zucker

  • Rachel Zucker returns to themes of motherhood, marriage, and the life of an artist in this double collection of poems. FABLES, written in prose form, shows the reader different settings (mountains, ocean, Paris) of Zucker's travels and meditations on place. THE PEDESTRIANS brings us back to her native New York and the daily frustrations of a woman torn by obligations.

    Chicago Tribune's best poetry books of 2014

    The New Yorker's best poetry books of 2014

  • 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.
    Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker

    This self-described “woefully feminine” collection from Zucker is marked by a frayed, neurotic humanism and composed with thrilling deftness and control.
    Publishers Weekly, starred review

    The Pedestrians is a strong, assured, brilliant collection. And it's not as if Zucker is naive about her “little flicker-self trumped up somehow.” Her clean, tempered prose style is an ideal delivery system for her weaponized observations.
    Chicago Tribune

    Zucker unflinchingly depicts the vicissitudes of one woman's variegated perception and so creates a new documentary poetics of motherhood: uncensored, relentless, and surreal. She proves that the maternal mundane is not in fact mundane at all.
    Chloe Garcia Roberts, Boston Review

    [Zucker's] best writing is nothing if not uncomfortable. If you know that discomfort already, you might see yourself in the best parts of Zucker's poems.
    Stephen Burt, Bookforum

    Zucker’s stylistic choices here, to dance between prose and poem, between family vacations and the squabbles of everyday life, between the pedestrian and the city she lives in, are compelling and worth examining closely.
    Jeannine Hall Gailey, The Rumpus

    With a group of confessional lyrics that reveal dreams, city life, sex, love and parenthood... Zucker reminds us how wild contemporary poetry gets when it spends Saturday nights at home.
    Craig Morgan Teicher, NPR

    These diary-like, mostly dark prose poems focus on the events of daily life yet never seem real. The closest they get is a kind of Daliesque quality with the iconic watch melting in the poetic desert.
    Diane Scharper, Library Journal

    The Pedestrians as a whole moves naturally from the external world of cities to more intimate, internal nadirs and so illustrates the psychological depth that Zucker has found within our seemingly pedestrian contemporary lives.
    Scott Riley, The Volta Blog

    The Pedestrians is, in most ways, a book about small things, but its effect is not a small one at all. It may even be epic.
    Kathleen Rooney, Coldfront

    In Zucker’s dynamic, the poet’s personality goes extinct as it bleeds into the world around her. She makes the world beautiful by giving it her own beauty, so poetry becomes an act of sacrifice.
    Jordan Sanderson, Heavy Feather Review

    In her sixth book of poetry, Rachel Zucker wields refreshing perspective on the beautiful banality of everyday drama of motherhood and marriage.

    Zucker’s collection of poetry bears testimony to both her poetic brilliance and motherly ability to “juggle her family like eggs or oranges.” Her hybrid style blends prose and verve into one urban stream, rendering her poems “worth their weight in ink” (as she puts in in “pedestrian”). Her words reverberate like the roar of an empowered lioness, as she emerges victoriously from the city jungle of her life, a mentor to all mothers.
    Geula Geurts, Rain Taxi

    Some of Zucker’s poems use breathlessly unpunctuated phrases sutured together by ampersands to present what feels like the anxious underside to the cooler, more obviously controlled percepts of [her] prose poems: the unmusical music of a mind racing through the harrying, sometimes horrifying particulars of the urban quotidian, and an unspoken protest against whatever “separates poetry from the pedestrian.”
    Barry Schwabsky, Hyperallergic

  • Rachel Zucker is the author of The Poetics of Wrongness (Wave Books, 2023), Soundmachine (Wave Books, 2019), The Pedestrians (Wave Books, 2014), and Museum of Accidents (Wave Books, 2009), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A graduate of Yale University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Zucker is an adjunct professor at NYU and other places. In 2016 she was a Bagley Wright Lecturer and wrote and delivered a series of talks on poetry, photography, confessionalism, motherhood, and the ethics of representing real people in art. She was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship in 2012, a Sustainable Arts Fellowship in 2016, and residencies from The MacDowell Colony and the Vermont Studio Center in 2018. Zucker is mother to three sons and lives in Washington Heights, NY and Scarborough, ME. 


Publication Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN# 9781933517896 (5.5x8, 160pp, paperback)
ISBN# 9781933517902 (5.5x8, 160pp, limited edition hardcover)

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