Rachel Zolf is a cross-border transplant from Toronto to Philadelphia whose thinking and artistic practice explores questions about history, knowledge, subjectivity, responsibility, and the limits of language, meaning, and the human. Zolf’s writing and other artwork queerly enacts how ethics founders on the shoals of the political, imagining other possibilities of sociality, space, and time.
Zolf’s five full-length books of poetry include Janey’s Arcadia, Neighbour Procedure, and Human Resources, all from Coach House Books; and a Selected Poetry was recently released. Six chapbooks include, most recently, The American Policy Player’s Guide and Dream Book. Poetry and essays have been widely published in journals and anthologies and translated into French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Awards include a 2018 Pew Fellowship in the Arts and a 2008 Trillium Book Award for Poetry and finalist for several other prizes, including two Lambda Literary Awards. Art videos Zolf has written and/or directed have screened at venues such as the International Film Festival Rotterdam, White Cube Bermondsey, and the Wexner Center for the Arts. Zolf has received over thirty poetry, video, nonfiction, and academic research grants from institutions including the Leeway Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Zolf holds an MFA from The New School, where they organized the first collaborative MFA in Creative Writing ever (The Tolerance Project), and a PhD in Philosophy, Art and Social Thought from the European Graduate School, where they worked with Judith Butler and Fred Moten. Zolf teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and has spent many years organizing community writing projects with trans youth, women in prison, and other communities. Current work in progress includes a poetics text entitled “Language No One Speaks: A Dangerous Perhaps of Monstrous Witness.” Zolf’s literary papers are housed at York University Archives and Simon Fraser University Special Collections.