Current City, State, Country
Rachel Kaufman is a poet and educator pursuing a PhD in Latin American and Jewish history at UCLA. Her poetic and historical work explore diasporic memory and the ways in which literary and historical works transmit the past, and her dissertation focuses on the Mexican Inquisition and cross-ethnic networks of female religious ritual. Her first poetry book, Many to Remember (Dos Madres Press, 2021) enters the archive’s unconscious to unravel the histories of New Mexican crypto-Jews and the Mexican Inquisition alongside the poet’s own family histories. Her chapbook, And after the fire, won the 2020 JuxtaProse Chapbook Prize and is grounded in the language and myth of the Talmud. Her poetry has appeared on poets.org and in the Harvard Review, Southwestern American Literature, Western Humanities Review, JuxtaProse, and elsewhere, and her prose has appeared in Rethinking History, The Yale Historical Review, and Diagram, and is forthcoming in Comedia Performance: Journal of the Association for Hispanic Classical Theater and the Los Angeles Review of Books.
What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?
My work emerges from a Jewish poetics, from an interrogation of and insistence on the sacred within a poetics of diasporic uncertainty. I think of my work as a means of translating the past, of foregrounding the materialities of history, embracing the sensual and strange, and holding at once conflicting narratives of our archives. My first poetry book, Many to Remember (Dos Madres Press, 2021), weaves together my historical research on the Mexican Inquisition and crypto-Jewish memory practices with my own familial inheritances and myths. I am interested in translating from genre to genre, from archive to poetry, history to myth, sacred text to new line, and noting the ways in which the sounds and rhythms of the texts we are given can be preserved and played with through the poetic line.
Many to Remember (Dos Madres Press, 2021)
Love is the Greater Labyrinth: A Comedy by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Juan de la Cuesta, 2022) (co-translator)
“Crypto-Jewish Poetry in New Mexico, post 1992” in Jews Across the Americas: 1492-Present (NY University Press, 2022)
Links to Sample Works
Yale University, B.A. in History & English
UCLA, M.A. in History, 2022
UCLA, PhD student in History