Rachel Zolf’s work explores questions about memory, history, knowledge, subjectivity and the limits of language and meaning. Her five books of poetry include Janey’s Arcadia (2014), Neighbour Procedure (2010) and Human Resources (2007). She has won the Trillium Book Award for Poetry and been a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and the Raymond Souster Memorial Award. Her film version of Janey’s Arcadia has shown at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and other venues.

SDTC: What spaces in Toronto do you go to escape?

RZ: The lake, west side. I grew up by the lake in the Beaches and feel drawn back there, but rarely go because I don’t want to bump into anyone from high school.

What aisle do you spend the most time in at the grocery store?

The gluten-free, yeast-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, soy-free, whatever-free one – because a naturopath put me on a crazy annoying diet to heal my “leaky gut.”

Which virtue do you try to cultivate within yourself?


The receipts in your wallet would indicate what?

This person sees too many “healers.”

What did you think you were going to be when you were 8 years old?

An astronaut or a tree doctor.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

On a beach with my girlfriend, who lives in another country.

What makes you happy?

Being on a beach with my girlfriend, who lives in another country.

What makes you cringe?

Literary award culture.

What quality do you loathe most in others?

Aspirational coolness.

What, in your opinion, is overrated?

Speed culture.

What is the one thing you wish you could change about yourself? 

Um, no way to narrow down to one thing, but I guess my socks, because my feet are cold.

What frustrates you the most?

Saying sufficiently effervescent and witty things in a Proust questionnaire.

What quality do you value most in a lover?

Emotional availability.

What is your favourite thing to do on a Saturday?

Hang out by the lake and/or beach with my girlfriend who lives in another country.

What is your comfort food?

Mac ’n cheese, though I’m not supposed to eat it (see above).

What phrase should we all use more?

I guess I won’t say the first phrase that came to mind, as it’s not appropriate for little ears on the Internet.