By Rachel Zucker
Publication Date: October 1, 2009
ISBN# 9781933517421 (8x8 88pp, paperback and limited edition hardcover)
A brutally honest epic of domestic proportions, Museum of Accidents rends the terrorizing forces of modern existence from abstraction and places them directly in our laps. The anxieties and elations of motherhood and marriage unfold throughout poems of uncompromising courage, compassion and fever.
Finalist for the 2009 National Book Critics’ Circle Award
Publishers Weekly, Best Books of 2009
Zucker’s willingness to put her own pain on display may frighten or even disgust some readers, but most will be grateful to find themselves less alone in their own everyday suffering. This is a book for all who seek what Zucker calls “the antidote for despair,” however elusive it may be.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
By sharing experience through interrogating and dynamic language, Zucker shines light on how we can live honestly against the grain of expected feeling and attitude and how we might feel powerful and passionate in a time of terror and fear.
Academy of American Poets
After reading Museum of Accidents it’s hard to imagine the book being anything but this size, a smaller version couldn’t contain all the white space necessary to make these poems breathe how they want to and to fully expose their beauty. This is a great collection.
Dustin Luke Nelson, InDigest
In Museum of Accidents, Zucker continues her meditation on matrimony and family life, with candid takes on parenthood (“Happiness can’t touch / the molten heart of motherhood”) and poetry, describing the joys and anxieties of each in long, loping, elegantly balanced lines.
David O’Neill, Bookforum
Rachel Zucker follows up her wittily acidulous The Bad Wife Handbook with Museum of Accidents, a fiercely felt and off-kilter meditation on motherhood. Zucker is about the only contemporary poet I’ve read who manages to address this topic without sounding coy and cloying. Mothers should read, others can learn.
Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
I began reading the book and found a brutally honest account of marriage, motherhood, and daily life--the good and bad of it all expressed in a compelling urgency shouting from the pages to be heard. From her post 9/11 parenting paranoia, to teaching, to miscarriage, Zucker’s voice is that of the modern woman struggling to juggle and comprehend all her daily challenges.
Susie DeFord, BOMBlog
Don’t get me wrong—it isn’t simply a spinsters’ schadenfreude that draws me to this confessional book. I love how varied the poems are. Each one takes a different shape, ranging across the page in a way that would make Robert Duncan proud.
Catherine Halley, Harriet, Best Poetry of 2009
With Zucker, you never know what the next line will hold. The point, the achievement, is not that she can gross us out, drive us around the bend, report the truth about her body, her husband, her sons, or the profession of poetry. The point is that these long, long lines, these stutters and splutters and blanks and lists, can portray, with more verve than anyone else has brought to such tasks, what it is like to be this person, this mother and teacher, at wit’s end: exhilarated, exhausted, exasperated, and able to show how it feels.
Stephen Burt, Boston Review
Museum of Accidents is a sprawling, high-voltage, yet in the end tightly lasso’d work. In a moment when mommy-lit and its discontents rule the blogs and the media ecology of the chattering classes, it is striking to read such an amazingly smart, funny, and devastating inquiry into motherhood—which Zucker weaves brilliantly into her life as wife, lover, citizen, Jew, poet, and basic ol’ sentient thirty-something Upper West Side gal.
Maureen McLane, Critical Mass, the National Book Critics Circle
By sharing experience through interrogating and dynamic language, Zucker shines light on how we can live honestly against the grain of expected feeling and attitude and how we might feel powerful and passionate in a time of terror and fear ... Zucker prizes a directness too complex to be handed over in unopposed declaration. Her poems shift back and forth across the page like the mind working out oppositions, or shifting between what should be and what is. Zucker’s book is a felt and smart collection.
American Poet, Vol. 38, Spring 2010
Rachel Zucker is the author of SoundMachine (Wave Books, 2019), The Pedestrians (Wave Books, 2014), and Museum of Accidents (Wave Books, 2009), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also the co-author (with Arielle Greenberg) of the nonfiction title Home/birth: a poemic and co-editor (also with Arielle Greenberg) of Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama’s First 100 Days and Women Poets on Mentorship: Efforts and Affections (both from the University of Iowa Press). A graduate of Yale University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Zucker currently teaches poetry at NYU. In 2016 she was a Bagley Wright Lecturer and wrote and delivered a series of talks on poetry, photography, confessionalism, motherhood, and the ethics of representing real people in art. She was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship in 2012, a Sustainable Arts Fellowship in 2016, and residencies from The MacDowell Colony and the Vermont Studio Center in 2018. Zucker lives in NYC with her husband and three sons.
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