Catching Up With Rachel Edelman

Where can we read some of your recent work?

Since time has folded in on itself in the last eighteen months, I’ll share a few poems that have been published over that period, that have helped me to mark the months as they’ve passed.

Wildness published my poem “Passage” in their Eco Folio in April of 2020, a poem that was partially born out of reading Molly Spencer’s If the House (University of Wisconsin Press, 2019).

In April of 2021, The Seventh Wave published three poems from a series entitled “Dear Memphis,” ( also the title of my full-length manuscript). I’m really proud of the tenderness and precision I found in those pieces, which joined an issue entitled “Rebellious Joy.”

Finally, my poems “Swatch Test” and “Dungeness” appear in the current print issue of Poetry Northwest, which also contains the winners and finalists for the inaugural James Welch Prize. It’s a real honor to have my work alongside such a gorgeous portfolio of indigenous poets. You can order an issue here, and if you’re a BIPOC poet, you can email editor Keetje Kuipers to get a free copy. 

What are you reading right now?

I spent the first half of August reading a book of poetry a day with the Sealey Challenge, and while several books really struck me—Pale Colors in a Tall Field by Carl Phillips, The Slip by Kary Wayson—I’m still riveted by the chapbook Mother Tongue by Chaelee Dalton (Gold Line Press, 2021). Mother Tongue crafts a Korean American adoptee’s self-determination through their relationships to their mothers—both referred to as “my mother,” never qualified, sometimes conflated—as we as their hungers and desires. I keep returning to Mother Tongue’s recipe poems. As I read them, I thought of The Book of Difficult Fruit, in which Kate Lebo writes “Recipes are rituals that promise transformation.” Dalton inserts their lyric transformations of colonization, family, and racism in the headnotes, instructions, and lists of Korean and Italian American recipes, offering their reader a grounded and deeply filling meal.

What’s next for you?

I teach high school English, and my school year begins on September 8th. I’ll be writing in the mornings from 6-6:30 AM Pacific time. Join me?

Rachel Edelman is a Jewish poet raised in Memphis, Tennessee. Her poems have been published in The Threepenny Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. You can find her on Instagram, Twitter, and at She lives on unceded Duwamish land