Adrienne Raphel is the author of What Was It For (Rescue Press, 2017), selected by Cathy Park Hong as winner of the Rescue Press Black Box Poetry Prize; and the chapbook But What Will We Do (Seattle Review, 2016), selected by Robyn Schiff as winner of the Seattle Review Chapbook Contest. She has written for The New Yorker online, The Paris Review Daily, The Poetry Foundation, Public Books, The Atlantic online, Slate, Lana Turner Journal, Prelude, andPoetry Northwest, among other publications. Born in New Jersey and raised in Vermont, Raphel graduated from Princeton and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and she currently studies poetics at Harvard.
In her debut collection What Was It For, Adrienne Raphel revitalizes the topsy-turvy lyric and its evergreen sagacity. Through playground doggerel, charm, and riddle, these poems cry fair and foul to a world where pâté geese dabble in fields of lavender, crises get wallpapered over, hot air balloons stalk pleasurably, cash changes for gold, and the moon sinks into the sea to the thrum of the metronome. That world is this, our own and only, so reader, climb aboard: like a carousel, each poem loops round and round, granting dizzying vistas. All the while, these poems spill over with wonder—as in query, as in jubilee—just as a child chants why, but why, but why. By way of answer, What Was It For offers an immortal, resounding question.
Interview at The Subvocal Zoo