Rachel Zuck­er

January 1, 2013

Rachel Zuck­er sweeps all the cor­ners in this max­i­mal­ist project of poems and prose, nav­i­gat­ing love, loss, and per­son­al and polit­i­cal despair. Through heart­break­ing, often com­ic, genre-non-con­form­ing pieces span­ning the past 10 years, she trains her relent­less atten­tion on mar­riage, moth­er­hood, grief, the need to speak, depres­sion, sex, and many oth­er top­ics. Part poet­ry, part mem­oir, part lyric essay — and not lim­it­ed by any of these cat­e­gories—Sound­Ma­chine is a book writ­ten out of the per­sis­tent feel­ing that the human voice is both a mean­ing­less sound and the only way we know we exist.

Discussion Questions

When Rachel Zuck­er quotes the Yid­dish say­ing Vert­er zol men vegn un nit tseyln. One should weigh words, not count them,” she cap­tures the essence of SoundMachine’s ambi­tious project. These extend­ed prose poems and med­i­ta­tions brave­ly cre­ate room for the hereti­cal, con­fes­sion­al, and exper­i­men­tal. Sound­Ma­chine embod­ies crit­ic Rachel Blau DuP­lessis call for a rad­i­cal poet­ics” that draws on this Jew­ish struc­ture of feel­ing, this Jew­ish sense of tex­tu­al­i­ty involved with end­less writ­ing, mul­ti­ple com­men­tary and vec­tors, end­less deferral.”