I live in the United States,
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
My poems are dedicated
to my daughters.
In memory of Isabel
10 November 1990 - 14 May 2001
Thank you for visiting my website.
In these poems we find a song and a touch. They open in offering, reach out in longing, and gather in, in healing. They awaken spirits, animal stirrings, and dream machines. They form a dirge, but also a hope and a covenant, if we are there.
Michael A. Sells is the John Henry Barrows Professor of Islamic History and Literature at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. His books include Desert Tracings: Six Classic Arabian Odes, Stations of Desire: Translations from Ibn al-`Arabi and New Poems, and Approaching the Qur'an.
I read The Doctor of Flowers as slowly as I could make myself read it, quietly swinging between its “stay, please” and its “turn the page, there is more.” Rachel Blum’s poems bring grief and beauty into the same room, waiting for each to teach the other something that matters about the world, about our hearts, about what it means to love deeply. There is so much light in this book, and some of the things revealed in the light are heartbreaking, and some are gorgeous, and often they are the same thing. This is now one of my books, one of those books that does what Wallace Stevens said about great poetry – it adds to the Res … My gratefulness for these poems is as tender as it can possibly be.
Raymond Barfield is a pediatric oncologist and Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Christian Philosophy at Duke University. He is the author of The Ancient Quarrel Between Poetry and Philosophy, Life in the Blind Spot, The Book of Colors, and Wager: Beauty, Suffering, and Being in the World.
These poems by Rachel Blum are softly spoken but they hit hard. The death of a child is always too much to bear. It derails whole lives. But in her quiet and stunning The Doctor of Flowers, she has chosen love as a way out of grief. There is courage and craft here. In helping others, she opens her heart and through her poems, opens ours. She tells us right off: The unfathomable part of death is love. So we invented the soul to be its ship. A book to light a candle with, and be.
Doug Anderson has taught in the MFA programs of the Pacific University of Oregon, Bennington College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts. His books include, Horse Medicine, The Moon Reflected Fire, and Blues for Unemployed Secret Police.
In Rachel Blum’s The Doctor of Flowers we find ourselves cradled in the poet’s hands. She whispers to us, tells us how to share our power with the other natural things: stars, flowers, dreams, words. Then she releases us, wings stronger than before. This book is a healing sanctuary to which any reader will often wish to return.
As a teacher of young writers, I encourage my students to read books that show them how to feel their worlds. This is precisely one of those books. Teach it, read it, cherish its benefits.
Zachary Kronstat, The School at Columbia University
In her tender, haunting, and gently powerful poems, Rachel Blum sees the familiar with fine, estranging eyes. The sentiments in these poems arrive from the depths, and we are transported by the sense of the numinous which permeates her words.
Yahia Lababidi is an Egyptian-American poet and essayist. His writing has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. His books include, Barely There: Short Poems, The Artist As Mystic: Conversations With Yahia Lababidi, Fever Dreams, Trial By Ink: From Nietzsche to Belly Dancing, and Signposts to Elsewhere.
Rachel Blum’s first book of poems, The Doctor of Flowers, is nothing less than beautiful and profound. Her work is at once full of pain and the elements of its relief. Blum refuses to look away from pain, indeed she travels with it, taking turns following its lead and leading it to a better end herself. Reading her work involves a deep trust between poet and reader, and it’s worth every line of that emotional connection. Her poetic world makes grief into an atmosphere of surprising livability—circulating, moveable, and spirit-filled.
Eric Wertheimer teaches at Arizona State University. His books include, mylar, Underwriting: The Poetics of Insurance in America, Imagined Empires: Incas, Aztecs, and the New World of American Literature, 1771-1876, and Regulus.
As the Japanese art of kintsugi repairs shattered pottery with gold and platinum, making it more cherishable, The Doctor of Flowers enters and runs through our bruised hearts, and mends them with immense healing beauty.
Eryk Hanut's books include The Road to Guadalupe and The Rumi Cards and Book.
When we read a great poet for the first time, we sometimes wonder how we could have done without them for so long. When I read Rachel Blum, I had that feeling.
Margaret Saine is an editor of the California Poetry Quarterly. Her books include, Bodyscapes, Words of Art, The Five Senses, Paesaggi che respirano, and Memoria y espera. Her poetry has been translated into four languages, in six countries.