Poet, activist, playwright and essayist Rachel McKibbens is a New York Foundation for the Arts poetry fellow and author of the critically acclaimed volume of poetry, Pink Elephant (Cypher Books, 2009.) Regarded as one of the most dynamic speakers in the country, McKibbens is a legend within the poetry slam community, noted for her accomplishments both on and off the stage: she is a nine-time National Poetry Slam team member, has appeared on eight NPS final stages, coached the New York louderARTS poetry slam team to three consecutive final stage appearances, is the 2009 Women of the World Poetry Slam champion and the 2011 National Underground Poetry Slam individual champion. For four years McKibbens taught poetry through the Healing Arts Program at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan and continues to teach poetry and creative writing and give lectures across the country as an advocate for mental illness, gender-equality and victims of violence and domestic abuse.
Her poems, short stories, essays and creative non-fiction have been featured in numerous journals and blogs, including Her Kind, The Los Angeles Review, The Best American Poetry Blog, The Nervous Breakdown, The Rumpus, The London Magazine, The Acentos Review, World Literature Today, Radius and The American Poetry Journal.
McKibbens’ poetry has been described as “marked by an arresting sense of the human spirit as unbroken, despite incredible suffering.” The Rumpus wrote of Pink Elephant, “McKibbens awakens and haunts with selfless honesty.” In 2011, McKibbens was commissioned by The Getty Center in Los Angeles to write and perform an ekphrastic poem for their multi-media poetry eventDark Blushing. McKibbens has read her work at venues and festivals across the nation, including The Dodge Poetry Festival, Letras Latinas at Lincoln Center, The Filmore Theater (Detroit, MI), The Paramount Theater (Austin, TX), Split This Rock, The Sarah Lawrence Poetry Festival, The Lincoln Theater (Columbus, OH), The Spoken Word & Hip-Hop Training Institute, The Drums Inside Your Chest, and Kentucky Women Writers Conference. McKibbens appeared on two seasons of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam and was featured in the poetry slam documentary Slam Planet in 2006 at SXSW.