Many to Remember by Rachel Kaufman


In her debut poetry collection, Rachel Kaufman enters the archive’s unconscious to reveal the melodies hidden within the language of the past. Many to Remember unravels the histories of New Mexican crypto-Jews and the Mexican Inquisition alongside the poet’s own family histories. Kaufman’s poems follow “fleshed like fables” and “the past’s near ending” to arrive at an “alphabet, gardened, growing,” creased and longing to translate the past for the present.


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 100
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: April, 2021
  • ISBN: 978-1-953252-23-4


In the archive, the poet calls to the past, and the past responds. Her family narrative intertwines with remote chapters of her people’s chronicle; the struggles of grandparents and great-grandparents are juxtaposed with the struggles of the Marranos in the southwest of the seventeenth century which she devotedly studies. Histories overlap, life stories resonate, unexpected parallels emerge. Translation is the key: “At the edge of words,” she tells her ghosts, “I accompany you, seeing.” From poem to poem in this deeply moving first book, Rachel Kaufman keeps the commandment: Zakhor! Remember! —Norman Finkelstein

The archive as hive, history as poetry, and the poem as a place where lightning falls and bloodlines call: Rachel Kaufman’s Many to Remember is rich with a weave of elders and others, of Jewish pasts built up from the faintest of minute particulars. Her language is playful and her tack slant, but she aims for the heart with her mythic mapping. —Peter Cole

Rachel Kaufman’s first book of poems undertakes an extraordinary task: moving a gigantic Hispanic event—the Spanish Inquisition in Mexico—into a part of the U.S. which is no longer tied to Spain, thus entering the sphere of American poetry. The movers are Jews who fled that Inquisition but remained crypto-Jews all the way up into New Mexico for several generations until the present. A powerful and informed imagination working on a visionary epic and a secure craftsmanship ab initio undoubtedly open the way to a brilliant writing career.—Nathaniel Tarn

I want to say that, by its nature, poetry is one way that the present discovers its possibilities through a dialogue with the past. In Many to Remember, Rachel Kaufman enacts that persistent struggle to uncover the living presence of history as we try to forge a life in the everyday. Writes the poet, “At the edge of words/I accompany you, seeing,” and her poems are a company we can trust, a way of seeing we can believe in. This is a startling debut. —Richard Deming

Rachel Kaufman’s lucid, alchemical poems turn the history of her family and crypto-Jews into myth that is at once fixed and unfixed, tenuous and lasting. Her poems reckon with rather than solve contradictions: survivors disinterested in their history, Jews who are refugees and colonizers, words that fail to express. Yet at times her myth’s contradictions and instability are a force of meaning: I realized there/was only/land and storm leaning/into earth,/breaking the soil/into pieces so/it could claim/at sunrise/its mending. Kaufman’s book is essential reading to all contrarians grappling with their histories. —Emily Warn


Me’am Lo’ez

The winter nights are very
long, the cock crow turns
our beds to song, our house
is safe through words of prayer
which tangle, circle,
leave us there. We’re told

our souls will grow
accustomed to hearing echoes
of our customs—these chantings
set apart from myth to keep
some holiness adrift.

It should be near but
not in hand, this spirit
which envelops land but never
touches down to rest, or settles
in our eager breath.

We’re left with just one-
seventh of the light,
our words collapse
as awe loses sight.


Rachel KaufmanRachel Bernstein Kaufman is currently pursuing a PhD in Jewish and Latin American History at UCLA. Her poetry has appeared on and in the Harvard Review, Southwestern American Literature, Western Humanities Review, JuxtaProse, and elsewhere, and her prose has appeared in The Yale Historical Review and Rethinking History. She received a BA in English and History from Yale University.

Additional information

Weight 6.8 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in