Rachel McKibbens


Poet, activist, playwright and essayist Rachel McKibbens is a New York Foundation for the Arts poetry fellow and author of the critically acclaimed volume of poetry, Pink Elephant (Cypher Books, 2009.) Regarded as one of the most dynamic speakers in the country, McKibbens is a legend within the poetry slam community, noted for her accomplishments both on and off the stage: she is a nine-time National Poetry Slam team member, has appeared on eight NPS final stages, coached the New York louderARTS poetry slam team to three consecutive final stage appearances, is the 2009 Women of the World Poetry Slam champion and the 2011 National Underground Poetry Slam individual champion. For four years McKibbens taught poetry through the Healing Arts Program at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan and continues to teach poetry and creative writing and give lectures across the country as an advocate for mental health awareness, gender-equality and victims of violence and domestic abuse. Source


       “death cannot harm me

         more than you have harmed me,

         my beloved life.”

                     —Louise Glück 


I tell my daughter first, because her knowing 
forces it to become true. I have to leave dad. 


Nothing is going to change. She nods 
like a priest in a booth, the last fifteen years


staring down at us. Explains, softly,
how she’s spoken of me to her therapist.


Her worry of becoming my mirror. Tells me,
I remember you, mom, before him. You were happy.


Oh. Oh. To surrender to your death by someone else’s
hand is still a kind of suicide. Slower. I stand naked


on the porch as she recounts in perfect detail,
(in a poet’s detail) the very things I’d hoped


to disguise. My careful little spectator. Diligent neighbor
to my unnamed agonies. It is not ungrateful to resist


the tyrannies of obsession. It is no selfish act
to want, suddenly, to stay alive. My dear girl.


She is teaching and I am learning. I not only 
want to be seen, I want to be seen through.

I return to my house, haunted and waiting.
I look into the mirror and notice the door.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:




Death & Loss


Love & Relationships

Literary Devices:


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


two lines of verse, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme, that form a unit


conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie


a short quotation or saying at the beginning of a book or chapter, intended to suggest its theme

Interrupted Clause

a word group (a statement, question, or exclamation) that interrupts the flow of a sentence and is usually set off by commas, dashes, or parentheses


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”


a word, object, action, character, or concept that embodies and evokes a range of additional meaning and significance.