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Rachel Zucker

The Poetics of Wrongness

The Poetics of Wrongness

  • In her first book of critical non-fiction, The Poetics of Wrongness, poet Rachel Zucker explores wrongness as a foundational orientation of opposition and provocation. Devastating in their revelations, yet hopeful in their commitment to perseverance, these lecture-essays of protest and reckoning resist the notion of being wrong as a stopping point on the road to being right, and insist on wrongness as an analytical lens and way of reading, writing, and living that might create openness, connection, humility, and engagement. Expanded from lectures presented for the Bagley Wright Lecture Series in 2016, Zucker’s deft dismantling of outdated paradigms of motherhood, aesthetics, feminism, poetics, and politics feel prescient in their urgent destabilization of post-war thinking. In her four essay-lectures (and an appendix of selected, earlier prose), Zucker calls Sharon Olds, Bernadette Mayer, Emily Dickinson, Adrienne Rich, Alice Notley, Natalie Diaz, Allen Ginsberg, Marina Abramović, and Audre Lorde—among others—into the conversation. This book marks a turning point in Zucker’s significant body of work, documenting her embrace of the multivocality of interview in her podcasting, and resisting the univocality of the lecture as a form of wrongness in and of itself.

    Listen to these lectures on the Bagley Wright Lecture Series Podcast

  • The issue that urgently dominates this book is whether a writer’s obligation is to the others whose lives are part of her experience, or whether all of her experience is legitimately her material to use in her art, even when its use may cause others unhappiness or pain....Especially likable is her unwillingness to simplify a solution.
    Karen Kevorkian, Colorado State University

    These essays meander while never losing purpose. They suggest without forcing the point. Like any good writer, Zucker manages to leave the reader with more questions than they began with while addressing topics ranging from confessionalism to motherhood.
    C. Francis Fisher, BOMB

    She’s been thinking about writing and writing about thinking about writing and writing about thinking about thinking about writing for so long that the trajectory feels entirely natural.
    Rob McLennan

  • 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 month: February 2023

ISBN# 9781950268702 (6x8.25, 256pp, paperback)

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