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Rachel Pollack

Residency Sites: Plainfield, VT

My work has been in my writing, with teaching as an outgrowth of my writing concerns. I have written twenty-five books of both fiction and non-fiction. I would characterize most of my fiction, which includes six novels and a collection of short stories, as literary fantasy. Unquenchable Fire won the Arthur C. Clarke Award in Britain, while Godmother Night won the World Fantasy Award. Though my non-fiction books have included work on such areas as Stone Age religion (The Body of the Goddess), most of my non-fiction has centered on the symbolic interpretation of Tarot cards, a subject much bigger than the popular image of fortune-telling. As well as creating my own deck, with images inspired by prehistoric art, I have written general books and books on specific decks, such as Salvador Dali’s Tarot. What unites my fiction and non-fiction is the exploration of imagination as the ground of creation. My books have appeared all over the world, in nine languages. My earliest teaching was writing and literature at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Since then, however, I have taught many workshops on Tarot in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, as well as occasional writing seminars, including a two year class on myth and creative imagery in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

My approach to writing begins with each student’s goals. Against the familiar dictum to “write what you know best,” I advise people to write what they care about most deeply. From this beginning point I work closely with each person to strip away whatever is sloppy, received wisdom, lazy, or a disguise of what the writer really needs to say. I encourage writers to think through what they are doing, to write passionately but question themselves in revision, and to get to the core of their own style and make it work for them. For more information, visit my web site Rachel Pollack.

Educational Background:

MA in English Literature, Claremont Graduate School; BA with honors in English Literature, New York University.