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Eating in the Underworld
Rachel Zucker

Wesleyan Poetry Series

2003 • 80 pp. 6 x 8"

$15.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6628-7
$12.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7613-2

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

"Evocative and mysterious, the poems hint at the faraway... the poems flow and involve the reader in the writer’s journey, whether to the real underworld or not. Zucker indeed leads us 'swimming through chaos to find the world.'”—Library Journal

Poems using the Persephone myth to explore the life of a contemporary woman.

In Rachel Zucker’s re-imagining of the Greek myth, Persephone is a daughter struggling to become a woman. Unlike the classical portrait of a maiden kidnapped by a tyrant, Zucker’s Persephone chooses to travel to the Underworld and assume her role as Hades' queen. Caught between worlds—light and dark, innocence and power, a mother's protection and a lover's appeal—Persephone describes the strangeness of the Underworld and the problems of transformation and transgression. The arrangement of Zucker’s poems reflects Persephone’s travels between the Underworld and the Surface. Both spare and lyrical, they are written as entries in Persephone's diary and as letters between Persephone, Demeter, and Hades. The language—strange, urgent, direct—is pulled and changed as Persephone journeys from one world to another revealing the struggle of unmaking and remaking the self.

Reviews / Endorsements

"Zucker’s art enacts unexpected, necessary syntheses of modern and postmodern practices. She makes a new style, bearing the beauties of many into the beautiful simplicity of one. And surely, surely, she is an Original. She makes myth immediate, embodied and useful. This is a marvelous collection, a real find." —Donald Revell, author of Arcady

"The gods have risen to earth! Zucker's crisply intelligent, hauntingly sonorous treatment of the Persephone myth turns this ancient tale human, exploring the reaches of feeling, without losing any of the mystery of other worlds."—Cole Swensen, author of Such Rich Hour

From the Book:

Before I leave I will turn some of these young girls
to birds. So they might fly.

Human eyes will guide them,
bird bodies carry them.

Their singing will torture the gods.

I never cared much for flowers,
servants to bees and beauty.

Tell the daughters to go down through darkness:
there they will find me.

And though we may bring death back with us,
every year we will return alive.

—from “Diary (On the Banks)”


AAUP Book, Jacket, and Journal Show (2004) Commendation
Winner of the Strousse Award fro Best Group of Poems (2002)

Author Photo

RACHEL ZUCKER has taught at Yale and New York University. Winner of the Barrow Street Poetry Prize and the 2002 Center for Book Arts Award, her poetry has been published in APR, Colorado Review, Iowa Review and Pleiades, as well as in the Best American Poetry 2001 anthology. This is her first book.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:52:29 -0500