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. 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.
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.
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."
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. The book was widely and warmly reviewed, including in The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and The New York Times and was chosen by amazon.com as a Best Book of the Month for March, 2013. 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.
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.
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, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Rhode Island, and the Valparaiso Foundation, 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. 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.
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.2004: James A. Michener Fellowship at the University of Texas-Austin.
2005: Philip Roth Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University
2006: Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award
2012: Rapp's essay, "Transformation and Transcendence: The Power of Female Friendship," was named "one of 25 pieces that should be required reading for women" by The Huffington Post.
2012: Rapp's blog, "Little Seal," was named by TIME magazine as one of the 25 best blogs in 2012.
2013: Named by the Los Angeles Times as one of the "Faces to Watch"
2013: Rapp's second memoir, The Still Point in the Turning World, was chosen as a Best Book of the Month in March by Amazon.
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