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Rachel Gurevich: Poet Interview

Categories: Poet Interviews, Poetry Challenge 2013, Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides Blog, What's New.

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!

*****

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*****

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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About Robert Lee Brewer

Senior Content Editor, Writer's Digest Community.

18 Responses to Rachel Gurevich: Poet Interview

  1. PressOn says:

    What a good and powerful poem. No wonder Robert selected it; the third stanza, for me especially, has the force of a slap in the face. Congratulations, and thanks for the interview. I was particularly taken with the notion that you like poems that make you “rethink or re-vision.” I never thought of that, but it makes satisfying sense.

    • Rachel says:

      Thank you so much!

      Yes, the best poems just change what I see in front of me… The balloon that never looks the same, or the dinner plate, or even other senses, like a scent or a physical sensation.

  2. Linda Hatton says:

    Great interview! I enjoyed reading about you, Rachel. And what a wonderful poem! Congratulations on all your success (past and future)!

  3. elishevasmom says:

    Congratulations Rachel!! Your poem was nicely done. I once lived in Israel for several years, but that was long ago and far away. Keeping up the PAD from April all the way through to July. Wow! And your story was very inspiring. Keep up the good work!.

    • Rachel says:

      Thank you!!

      And this, “I once lived in Israel for several years, but that was long ago and far away.” I am intrigued! Certainly you’re not going to hint at a story like that and not share, right? :) I will hope for an email from you, as you’ve hooked me with that teaser! Sounds like an interesting story…

  4. Nancy Posey says:

    I guess the groundhog saw his shadow, so a few more days before the challenge ends, right?

    Loved the poem and interview, Rachel. This was so true:
    (I feel like some poets on my shelf are shouting, “What about me, what about me?!” To them I can only say, forgive me!)

    It’s like asking, “Which is your favorite child?”

  5. drwasy says:

    Congratulations Rachel! I love your poem, the ending which came from nowhere, but such a fitting memorial to the runners–and to each moment. We share a love of many of the same poets. Keep writing! Keep submitting! Peace…

    • Rachel says:

      Thank you! :)

      Re: the ending, the poem was inspired by the fact that I had been off line and came back online just after everything with the marathon had occurred.. and it felt just like you said… as if it came from nowhere. That’s the “price” we pay when we’re disconnected. Or is it a gift, to not know? So hard to say…

  6. Jane Shlensky says:

    Rachel, I enjoyed your poem and your interview. Take heart and keep writing and submitting. Hope to see you around PA and in other journals.

  7. Linda Goin says:

    Good to “meet” you, Rachel — an astounding poem! Thank you. Billy Collins also is one of my favorite living poets. Good luck!

  8. bjzeimer says:

    Congratulations, Rachel. Thank you for this poem.

  9. De Jackson says:

    AWESOME! So nice to meet you, Rachel.
    I absolutely love this poem, and getting to know a little about you.
    Congratulations, and good luck with all of your submissions!

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