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 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 a 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 and currently teaches at the University of Utah and lives in Salt Lake City.
In 2019, Paisley Rekdal was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. Rekdal launched the website “Mapping Literary Utah,” which contains videos, poems, and prose excerpts by writers that reside or have resided in Utah; and presented a statewide poetry festival.