Rachel Gurevich: Poet Interview

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Quick note: The results for the 2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge have been delayed, but I'm getting close to make final decisions. Out of more than 80 submissions, I've narrowed the field to around a dozen final contenders. I hope to roll out the results later this week.

From the November challenge to the April challenge: Rachel Gurevich wrote one of the Top 25 poems for the 2013 April PAD Challenge, but she's no stranger to Poetic Asides. Her poem "Searching" made the Top 50 Poems list for the 2011 April PAD Challenge.

Rachel Gurevich

Rachel Gurevich

Rachel was born and bred in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA, where she lived until college graduation. Then, she and her husband went on a mostly-non-intentional tour of America, living for a time in Sacramento, CA; Lawrence, MA; Providence, RI; Brooklyn, NY; and Baltimore, MD. In 2005, she moved with her family to Israel. A dedicated and busy mother of four, she makes time for writing in the early mornings, stolen moments during the day, and in the evenings. Rachel’s poetry has appeared in Horizons and Literary Mama. Rachel’s best known as the fertility expert at About.com and as the author of The Doula Advantage (Three Rivers Press, 2003) and co-author of Birth Plans for Dummies (Wiley, 2012). She’d love to connect with you on Twitter @RachelGurevich, or have you visit her website at RachelGurevich.com.

Here's Rachel's Top 25 poem:

What I Don't Know At This Moment, by Rachel Gurevich

What I don't know at this moment
with my suite of tweets hidden,
with my Facebook page face down,
with the notoriously nerve-wracking news closed,
with the acid-washed Instagram feed unseen, is

there are 7 ways to beat writer's block,
but only 5 ways to quiet obsession.
There are hundreds of #lifesecrets to hack,
but even more #lols to laugh at.
Rumi says, "I want to sing like birds sing.
Not worrying who listens or what they think."
@ladygaga is going into surgery,
promising to dream of me.

What I don't know at this moment is
what Grandma thinks about my cousin's life;
like is a tattoo, even of the Western Wall,
befitting a Jewish girl? And isn't it too soon to announce
her new lover, even if they are living together?
Must she provide photographic evidence, in HD clarity,
for all the world to see? Their arms around each other,
she kissing her, and her kissing she?

What I don't know at this moment is a bomb
just exploded
at the Boston marathon,
thousands running, millions watching,
and I don't know if my running friends,
whose names I've forgotten,
are now running towards
a fractured finish.


Where are you located?

Israel, in a small town by the Mediterranean Sea.

Who are your favorite poets?

I feel like you've ask me to publicly declare who my favorite friends are. Even though I’m certain most of these poets, living or dead, could care less whether I name them (or not name them), it sure does feel like it’d be a crime to leave someone out! So… let me try.

Some of my favorite living poets are Mary Oliver, Philip Schultz, Ted Kooser, Ellen Bass, Billy Collins, Sharon Olds, John G. Rives, Joan Logghe, Melanie Faith, and Robert Lee Brewer (yes, really!!). I don’t know if Lydia Davis considers herself a poet, but I consider her a poet and adore her work.

As for poets living only on the page and in people’s hearts, some of my favorites include Emily Dickinson (the first poet I ever loved), William Carlos Williams, e. e. cummings, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath.

(I feel like some poets on my shelf are shouting, “What about me, what about me?!” To them I can only say, forgive me!)

As a reader, what do you like most in poems?

I love poems that make me rethink or re-vision everyday objects, the natural world, relationships, or even how I live my life. They renew the familiar. I love to find in a poem a surprising, vivid image, and the best ones stay with me over weeks, months, and sometimes years. I love a story, even if just a hint to a story, a character or conflict that lives beyond the poem on the page. I love a good rhythm, a unique turn of phrase, and poetic puns. Well-played enjambments get me excited. I also love a poem that is simply entertaining, for whatever reason.

What were your goals for the 2013 April PAD Challenge?

To get into a rhythm of writing more poetry, hopefully beyond the month of April. I managed to stretch the April enthusiasm into July, which I consider a great success. Forcing myself to write a poem a day pushes me to ignore the voice in my head that says my idea isn’t good enough, isn’t poetic enough, isn't worthy of being written down. I need to get through all those not-so-great poem drafts so I can get some flow and find some good poems.

Poetry begets more poetry begets more poetry. That’s always my goal in these writing challenges.

What's next for you?

More poetry! :-)

I’ll keep writing and keep sending out my poems. Having my poem chosen as part of the Top 25 has given me the boost I desperately needed. I went into rejection shock after my last string of rejection e-mails, and I failed to keep my promise to myself to re-send out the poetry within 48 hours of receiving a No Thanks.

And then, I got this news! So, thank you!


Earn money with your writing!

Learn how to rock at freelance writing, whether it's tackling magazines, writing copy for businesses, or some other form of being a writer for hire--with Writer's Digest's writing kit of the month for February. It collects several books, webinars, and more.

Learn more.


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer's Digest Writing Community and genuinely honored to make Rachel's list of favorite poets. He's the author of Solving the World's Problems, married to the amazing Tammy Foster Brewer, and can be followed on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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