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. Their 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 is forthcoming from Wilfrid Laurier University Press. They have published five chapbooks, with poetry and essays widely published in journals and anthologies, and poems translated into French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Zolf has been awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts and has won a Trillium Book Award for Poetry. They have also been a finalist for several other prizes, including two Lambda Literary Awards, the Raymond Souster Memorial Award, and a Vine Award for Literature. Art videos Zolf has written and/or directed have screened at such venues as the International Film Festival Rotterdam, White Cube Bermondsey, and the Wexner Center for the Arts. They have 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’s work has received extensive critical and scholarly attention and is regularly taught in university courses in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. They hold an MFA from The New School, where Zolf conducted 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’s current book in progress is a theoretical text entitled “A Language No One Speaks: The Dangerous Perhaps of Monstrous Witness.” Their literary papers are housed at York University Archives and Simon Fraser University Special Collections.
Zolf teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and facilitates community projects that harness the power of writing for personal and social change.