Professor Ethel Rackin

Shannon Goldhahn, Centurion Staff

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“When you first start off, it’s hard to be that flexible because your scared and you don’t know too much,” Rackin answered honestly. Although, true to Rackin’s disposition she continued to work at it until she felt that her critiques were helping her students. “I think when you help people identify what’s most unique in their own work and grab onto that and run with it, that’s a really helpful thing to do,” said Rackin.

Rackin enjoys meeting with students working on their writing. Seeing her students experience that types of joy and pain that she has when writing is life changing. The way that poetry can really become the center of someone’s life.

Rackin has been married since 2002. Her husband is just like Rackin where it seems that they can’t just stay still. She happily said that he is a real estate agent, builder, and does contracting and historical restoration. Rackin finds it better that he does not write himself.

“It is great in many ways
because were never competing with one another. We support each other, but were slightly in different worlds,” said Rackin.

The Rackin’s only child is their dog. Rackin said that there is no hidden secret of why she doesn’t have kids. It was just, as she put it, ‘a non-decision.’ Both Rackin’s felt like they didn’t need to have children. Rackin, for once looked vulnerable while talking about her writing as she said, “I knew that if I did have kids, I would want to put my kids first. And my writing would get kind of shoved to the side.”

Women often feel that they have to choose either family or their career. Rackin still believes you can do both, as she said, “I know plenty of writers who have kids. It’s just for me personally, it didn’t feel like it was a balance that would work.”

Writing isn’t a career that occurs if you just go with the flow. Rackin, with a fierce determination said, “I felt that I’ve had to kind of fight to maintain my writing life in graduate school, in the context of my job, in the context of my marriage, in the context of family, my friends. I feel like I’ve had to kind of fight to maintain that space.”

Fighting for her writing has been a constant
struggle in Rackin’s life, yet she constantly pulls through. Her first book was published when she was 40, which apparently is late for a first book. She expressed that it became a struggle to write. That it felt like she wasn’t being accepted to sit at the writers table.

“I was happy that it happened when it did, very
happy. Almost like, less elated and more just relieved,” She paused and got a far off look in her face as she remembered the heart-ache she experienced before her poetry was published.

“If you want to do something for a very long time and it’s not working out, and you just have kinds of doubts about your path; then you start to lose faith. So, that actually happening was just like, ‘Oh, thank God!’” said Rackin.

She then went on to publish two more books of
poetry, which led to her being a finalist in national awards and being in multiple poetry magazines.

Rackin is now working on finalizing a textbook for students who have just started their creative writing
experience. It is set to be published in the next few years but knowing Professor Rackin, it will breathe the life into a few more writers out in the world.