Emily Susan Rapp

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Emily Susan Rapp Black
Born Emily Susan Rapp
(1974-07-12) July 12, 1974 (age 43)
Grand Island, Nebraska
Occupation Author
Nationality American

Harvard University, University of Texas-Austin, Trinity College-Dublin, St. Olaf College

Alma mater
Genre Memoir
Notable awards

Books-aj.svg aj ashton 01.svg Literature portal

Emily Rapp Black (born July 12, 1974) is an American memoirist. When she was six years old, she was chosen as the poster child for the March of Dimes, due to a congenital birth defect that resulted in the amputation of her leg. As of 2013, she has written two memoirs, one that presents her life as an amputee and the other that tells the story of the birth of her child Ronan Christopher Louis and his diagnosis of Tay-Sachs disease. She is a former Fulbright scholar and recipient of the James A. Michener Fellowship. As of 2013, she is a professor of Creative Writing and Literature at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Personal background[edit]

Early life[edit]

Emily Susan Rapp was born on July 12, 1974, in Grand Island, Nebraska. Rapp was raised in Laramie, Wyoming; Kearney, Nebraska; and Denver, Colorado; by her father, a Lutheran pastor, and her mother, a school nurse. She lives in New Mexico with her husband, writer and editor Kent Black and their family.


In 1996, Rapp received a Fulbright Fellowship to Seoul, South Korea.[1] She was educated at Harvard University, where she received a Masters in Theological Studies; Saint Olaf College, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Women's Studies; Trinity College, Dublin; and the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow and received her Masters of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.

Professional background[edit]

Before entering Divinity School, Rapp worked in Geneva, Switzerland, Namibia, Hong Kong and Bangkok, Thailand for the Women's Desk of the Lutheran World Federation, an international relief organization.[2]

Poster Child[edit]

In 2007, Rapp published her first memoir, Poster Child, with Bloomsbury, detailing her life as an amputee. She wrote, "[The] notion, that happiness and fulfillment hinge upon radical transformation, has followed me throughout my life. From an early age, I had fantasies of being 'healed' of my disability, a miracle I envisioned as rather more Disney than biblical."[3][4]

The Still Point of the Turning World[edit]

In 2013, her book The Still Point of the Turning World was published by Penguin Press. The book shares the author's life and experiences following her son Ronan Christopher Louis's diagnosis at nine months old with Tay-Sachs disease.[5] The book was widely and warmly reviewed, including in The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and The New York Times[6][7] and was chosen by amazon.com as a Best Book of the Month for March, 2013.[8] On March 8th, 2013 Rapp appeared on The Today Show to speak about her book, along with her many other public appearances, including a return to Fresh Air with Terry Gross on NPR.[9][10]

Short Stories, Poems, and Essays[edit]

Rapp's short stories, poems, or essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, salon.com, The Sun, The Texas Observer, The Rumpus, and Body & Soul, among other publications. She has kept her own blog, "Little Seal," and she has been a regular columnist for the blog Role/Reboot.[11][12][13][14]

Rapp has received many awards for her work, including recognition from The Atlantic Monthly, StoryQuarterly, The Huffington Post, TIME magazine, the Mary Roberts Rinehart Foundation, the Jentel Arts Foundation, the Corporation of Yaddo,[15] the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Rhode Island,[15] and the Valparaiso Foundation,[16] among others.


Rapp has taught writing in the MFA program at Antioch University Los Angeles; The Taos Writers' Workshop in New Mexico; the MFA program at the University of California, Riverside; and the Gotham Writers' Workshop.[17] She is currently a professor of Creative Writing and Literature at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She travels frequently to schools and universities to talk about issues of the body, illness, and the creative process.[18]

Board memberships[edit]

From 1989–2003 she served on various boards and committees of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, including the Committee on the Status of Women and the Global Mission Board of Directors.[19][20]

Honors and awards[edit]


  • Rapp, Emily (2007). Poster Child: A Memoir, Bloomsbury USA/Macmillan, 240 pages. ISBN 978-1596912564
  • Rapp, Emily (2013). The Still Point of the Turning World, Penguin Press, 272 pages. ISBN 978-1594205125


  1. ^ 1996 Fulbright Fellows at the Wayback Machine (archived March 14, 2012)
  2. ^ "Living with words". The Lutheran. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  3. ^ Rapp, Emily (2011-03-23). "Home in the World". Sfreporter.com. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  4. ^ Rousso, Harilyn. "POSTER CHILD by Emily Rapp | Kirkus". Kirkusreviews.com. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  5. ^ By Buzzy Jackson (2013-03-02). "‘The Still Point of the Turning World’ by Emily Rapp - Books". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  6. ^ Manguso, Sarah (2013-03-15). "Requiem: Emily Rapp's 'Still Point on the Turning World'". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  7. ^ McAlpin, Heller (2013-03-15). "Emily Rapp writes her way through grief in 'Still Point of the Turning World'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  8. ^ a b "An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2013". amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-07-03. 
  9. ^ "A grieving mom's advice to the rest of us:Love purely, and take it easy". today.com. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  10. ^ "'Still Point': A Meditation on Mothering a Dying Child". npr.org. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  11. ^ Rapp, Emily (2011-10-15). "Notes from a Dragon Mom". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  12. ^ "Selected Essays". emilyrapp.com. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  13. ^ "Little Seal/Ronan's Blog". wordpress.com. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  14. ^ "Archives". rolereboot.org. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  15. ^ a b "Yaddo Artists' Links". Yaddo.org. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  16. ^ "News and Reviews". Emily Rapp. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  17. ^ "Books and Selected Essays by Emily Rapp". Emily Rapp links. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  18. ^ "Santa Fe University Faculty". Santa Fe University. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  19. ^ "ELCA Assembly Elects Council, Board and Committee Members". Evengelical Lutheran Church of America. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  20. ^ "Speakers and Presenters". Evengelical Lutheran Church of America. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  21. ^ "MFA Profiles: Emily Rapp". utexas.edu. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  22. ^ "Philip Roth Residence". Bucknell University. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  23. ^ "The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards". Ronajaffefoundation.org. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  24. ^ Fradkin, Lori (2012-11-20). "Best Articles 2012: The 25 Pieces That Should Be Required Reading for Women". huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  25. ^ "25 Best Blogs 2012". time.com. 2012-10-22. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  26. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (2012-12-28). "Faces to Watch 2013: Emily Rapp, Small Demons' Valla Vakili, more". latimes.com. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 

External links[edit]