Paisley Rekdal

Paisley Rekdal was born and raised in Seattle. She received an MA from the University of Toronto and an MFA from the University of Michigan.

Rekdal is the author of six volumes of poetry, including West: A Translation (Copper Canyon Press, 2023), which was long-listed for the 2023 National Book Award in Poetry and the winner of the 2024  Kingsley and Kate Tufts Award; Nightingale (Copper Canyon Press, 2019); Imaginary Vessels (Copper Canyon Press, 2016); Animal Eye (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012), winner of the 2013 Rilke Prize from the University of North Texas; and A Crash of Rhinos (University of Georgia Press, 2000), winner of the University of Georgia Press’s Contemporary Poetry Series Award.

The poet Major Jackson writes,

With all of their rhetorical pleasures and illustrative rhythms, Rekdal’s poems are deeply marked by a sensate, near terrestrial, relationship to language such that she refreshes and renews debates about beauty, suffering, and art for the twenty-first century reader.

Rekdal is also the author of numerous works of nonfiction: Real Toads, Imaginary Gardens: On Reading and Writing Poetry Forensically (W. W. Norton, 2024); the book-length essay The Broken Country: On Trauma, a Crime, and the Continuing Legacy of Vietnam (University of Georgia Press, 2017); an essay collection, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee (Pantheon Books, 2000); and a hybrid-genre memoir, Intimate (Tupelo Press, 2012).

Rekdal is the recipient of fellowships from the Amy Lowell Trust, Civitella Ranieri, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. In May 2017, Rekdal was named poet laureate of Utah, and is an inaugural Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. She was the Guest Editor for Poem-a-Day in December 2019. Rekdal is the director of the American West Center and a distinguished professor of English at the University of Utah. She lives in Salt Lake City.