Paisley Rekdal

Paisley Rekdal was born in Seattle, Washington to a Chinese-American mother and a Caucasian father. She was educated at the University of Washington (Honors BA), the University of Toronto (MA Medieval Studies) and the University of Michigan (MFA). She is the author of a book of essays, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee; the hybrid photo-text memoir, Intimate; and five books of poetry: A Crash of Rhinos; Six Girls Without Pants; The Invention of the Kaleidoscope; Animal Eye, a finalist for the 2013 Kingsley Tufts Prize and winner of the UNT Rilke Prize; and Imaginary Vessels, finalist for the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Prize and the Washington State Book Award. Her newest work of nonfiction is a book-length essay, The Broken Country: On Trauma, a Crime, and the Continuing Legacy of Vietnam. A new collection of poems, Nightingale, which re-writes many of the myths in Ovid's Metamorphoses, was published spring 2019. Appropriate: A Provocation, a book-length essay examining cultural appropriation, is forthcoming from W.W. Norton. She was the guest editor for Best American Poetry 2020.

Her work has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Civitella Ranieri Residency, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Pushcart Prizes (2009, 2013), Narrative's Poetry Prize, the AWP Creative Nonfiction Prize, and various state arts council awards. Her poems and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, The New Republic, Tin House, the Best American Poetry series (2012, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019), and on National Public Radio, among others.

Paisley Rekdal moved to Utah in 2003. She is Distinguished Professor of Literature at the University of Utah, and is the creator and editor of both Mapping Literary Utah and the community web project Mapping Salt Lake City. In May 2017, she was named Utah’s fifth Poet Laureate, and received a 2019 Academy of American Poets' Poets Laureate Fellowship.



  • Appropriate: A Provocation. NY: Norton, 2021.
  • Nightingale: Poems. Port Townsend: Copper Canyon Press, 2019.
  • The Broken Country: On Trauma, A Crime, and the Legacy of Vietnam. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2017. Winner of the 2016 AWP Nonfiction Prize 
  • Imaginary Vessels. Port Townsend: Copper Canyon Press, November 2016
  • Animal Eye: Poems. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, February 2012.
  • Intimate: An American Family Photo Album. North Adams: Tupelo Press, April 2012.
  • The Invention of the Kaleidoscope: Poems, University of Pittsburgh Press, February 2007.
  • Six Girls Without Pants, Eastern Washington University Press, September 2002. 
  • The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee, Vintage Books, paperback edition, April 2002. 
  • A Crash of Rhinos, poetry, University of Georgia Press, 2000.
  • The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee, Pantheon, creative nonfiction/memoir, 2000.