Chelsea Rathburn is the author of three full-length poetry collections, most recently Still Life with Mother and Knife, a New York Times “New & Noteworthy” book released by Louisiana State University Press in February 2019. Rathburn’s first full-length collection, The Shifting Line, won the 2005 Richard Wilbur Award, and her second collection, A Raft of Grief, was published by Autumn House Press in 2013.
In a 2019 feature, NPR called Rathburn’s work “arresting” and “a gentle whirlwind.” Her poems have appeared in many of the nation’s most esteemed journals, including Poetry, The Atlantic Monthly, the New Republic, The Southern Review, New England Review, and Ploughshares, among others. In 2009, she received a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
While she was born in Jacksonville and raised in Miami, Florida, Rathburn has deep roots in the state of Georgia, where her mother’s family has lived since the 1830s. Rathburn moved to Decatur in 2001 after completing graduate school at the University of Arkansas. After spending six years living and teaching in the North Georgia mountains with her husband, the poet James Davis May, and their daughter, she moved to Macon in 2019. She is currently an associate professor of English-Creative Writing at Mercer University.
In March 2019, Rathburn was appointed poet laureate of Georgia, and in 2021 she was awarded an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship. For more information on the poet laureateship and literary arts in Georgia, visit the Georgia Council for the Arts.