Rachel Zucker was born in 1971 in New York City and raised in Greenwich Village. She earned her BA in psychology at Yale University and 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 collection of her lectures in The Poetics of Wrongness (Wave Books, 2023) and 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.
Stephanie Burt has noted Zucker as
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.
Zucker’s 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.