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Callista Buchen - book author

Callista Buchen is the author of the full-length collection Look Look Look (forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press 2019), as well as the chapbooks The Bloody Planet (Black Lawrence Press, October 2015) and Double-Mouthed (winter 2016, dancing girl press). Her work appears in Harpur Palate, Puerto del Sol, Fourteen Hills, and many other journals, and she is the winner of the Langston Hughes Award and DIAGRAM's essay contest.

Callista Buchen is the author of books: Look Look Look, The Bloody Planet, Double-Mouthed, They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing, A Cappella Zoo #6: Spring 2011, Political Punch: Contemporary Poems on the Politics of Identity

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01
Motherhood is bound both to life’s joy and death’s ether, which complicates a woman’s relationship to her own body's emotional and physical permeability. In Look Look Look Callista Buchen writes beautiful prose fragments about and the tendrils that bind her to motherhood and that intersection with mortality. This moving collection situates motherhood as a climate, a destination and reminds us that many of the connections bodies make are often as ephemeral as “clouds made of mouths.”

—Carmen Giménez Smith

Drawing from surrealism, the grotesque, and even horror, Callista Buchen’s Look Look Look explores how alien one’s own body—one’s own self—becomes through pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. In these prose poems, Buchen’s mother-speaker “build[s] and dissolve[s],” is both “double and half.” The line between self and other, the line between construction and deconstruction, and “[t]he line between making and being made” have never felt so thin, so permeable. This is a profound book of poems.

—Maggie Smith

In this ravishingly honest collection of prose poems, Callista Buchen look look looks at every facet of mothering, from child loss to childbirth, from loss of self and alienation from the body to a hard-won and completely unsentimental empowerment—mother as process; “mother as birthplace, where woman becomes location.” The poems are often dimly lit as a diorama or a womb. They embrace pregnancy’s darkness, the monstrous cleaving of the birthing body, the milky flood of nursing, and the complex grief of the self that is estranged in the making of another human being. The poems have the rhythm and image-centeredness of ritual; even the book’s title is a trinity, suggesting the multifocality of women’s experience and functioning as an entreaty for the reader to look, please. When the speaker comes into her authority it arrives less with triumph than with danger: “There isn’t a dam you can build that I can’t break. Charisma, chiasma, power. See what I will do.” This is a book about mothering like no book about mothering that has ever been mothered forth.

—Diane Seuss

A mother is full of cracks, this vessel. Everywhere tears, everywhere salt, writes Callista Buchen’s in her stunning debut collection, Look, Look, Look. In these poems, Buchen does not look away from motherhood, body, or loss—but stares directly in its eyes. These stirring poems radiate both the beauty and burn of being a mother, two selves of a woman—they meditate, Your body is not your own. Look Look Look brings us, birthed and swaddled, the poems we need in the world right now. This incredible collection is fed by an honesty and a fierceness mothers and women know deep inside them—I am so dangerous. I cannot remember the last time I finished a collection and wanted to return to the start to read it again—but this is that book. I will return to these poems for years. I cannot recommend this book enough.

—Kelli Russell Agodon
02
Poetry. In THE BLOODY PLANET, Callista Buchen calls out to the geographies of the solar system, considering the local and the grand, the Earth-bound and beyond.

Her speakers are searchers through far-flung examinations and pursuits of strange landscapes, they bring us face to face with what it means to be human. On Mercury, 'Scars gather flesh / fall apart. The ground writes, rewrites.' The speaker asks again and again: 'What does it matter?'

What matters is the gravity of place. What matters is what pulls us. In these twenty gorgeous, tensile poems, Buchen explores what connects and separates, culling from the planets a universe of language, color, work, art, even love.

"In THE BLOODY PLANET, Callista Buchen takes us on a breathtaking tour of the solar system, detailing the violent surfaces and inhospitable climates of each planet and leaving us in humble awe of our own. From Mercury's hot, unstable mantle to Mars's angry red dust to planet Uranus's bitter cold, Buchen stands in wonder of these planets, where 'giant spots maul whole / levels of world and swallow / themselves the dust afterwards.' In these tightly crafted poems, Buchen wisely looks beyond Earth to draw our attention to Earth, issuing a bold and urgent warning for a world on the brink of its own demise: 'See this, machine of humanity, ' she writes. 'Dust only multiplies. You are marching. You are a lion. You are / THE BLOODY PLANET. You are painted red, a shrieking mouth.' Buchen's poems are significant, vital as gorgeous and unstoppable as the alien storms they describe." Alyse Knorr

"Callista Buchen's poetic impulse, a deep-felt mission to capture the quintessence of our solar system, is far from usual. Her aim, not to anthropomorphize, nor to reduce to metaphor those spinning emblems of childhood-learning, is rather to weave, out of unexplained contacts that her speakers make with each planet, a combined mood, or hybrid psychology I love how space infiltrates these poems; how words occupy whatever space they can, and how small the human is at times, yet how conjoined the poet makes us feel with the larger medium of life, 'fleshy swans, wet grapes, ' all of it. By the end of this wondrous chapbook, everything is one medium clay, metal, fire, virus, and definition itself becomes porous, thanks to this poet, who has seen 'all the way around the pool of time in between.'" Larissa Szporluk

"At once intimate and expansive, and filled with discovery and wonder, the poems of THE BLOODY PLANET examine a universe that is devastating, beautiful, resilient where image, language, and stone break open, where 'the ground writes, rewrites.' From Singapore to the 'husk and yard of Ohio, ' from Mercury to the 'stylized dragonfly' of Neptune's strata, these poems breathe strange and lovely atmospheres and cover vast landscapes, searching deep beneath their rich grounds. As I read and reread this collection, I am continually awed by the haunting geology of Buchen's poems." Amy Ash

"The enticing thing about Callista Buchen's THE BLOODY PLANET is its attention to landscape. Her poems encase the spirit with the wavy lines of a topographic map, and because the knobs and knolls and flaming fields of Earth are not sufficient for the task, she is forced to enlist the rest of the solar system. 'To understand it // geologically. This is the goal, ' Buchen writes, and she does a highly creditable job of the task in this arresting collection of poems." Karen Craigo"
03
Double-Mouthed acknowledges the collapse of the self that can accompany motherhood, adding images of construction to birth and motherhood, exploring the body, gender roles, family, writing, creation, destruction, and rebuilding. Double-Mouthed confronts what to do, what to write, when, through motherhood, the (unified, stable) self disappears (or, is discovered to have been a lie all along).
04
Poetry. Fiction. Literary Nonfiction. THEY SAID: A MULTI-GENRE ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY COLLABORATIVE WRITING includes poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as hybridized forms that push the boundaries of concepts like "genre" and "author."

Contributors to this anthology include:

Kelli Russell Agodon, Nin Andrews, Elisa Gabbert, Ross Gay, Carol Guess, Carla Harryman, j/j hastain, Lyn Hejinian, Persis Karim, Ada Limon, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Julie Marie Wade, G C Waldrep, and many more.
05
A cappella Zoo (ISSN: 1945-7480) is a web & print magazine of magic realism & slipstream. Issue 6 . Spring 2011 EDITOR: Colin Meldrum ASSISTANT EDITORS: Edmond Caldwell, Amanda DiSanto, Rachel Lieberman, Micah Unice. READERS: Zach Buscher, Michael James Wilson. COVER ART by Mark Morgan. FICTION by Dora Badger, Anton Baer, James Carpenter, Maria Deira, Micah Dean Hicks, Jennifer Kelly-DeWitt, J S Khan, Emily J. Lawrence, Andrew Mitchell, Nancy Stebbins. DRAMA by Guy R. Beining. POETRY by Callista Buchen, Nicelle Davis, Brenda Mann Hammack, Rose Hunter, Michael Jones, Lindsay Miller, J. A. Tyler, Jessica Young, Felicia Zamora. ILLUSTRATIONS by Cheryl Gross.
06
In September 2014, NPR writer and critic Juan Vidal wrote an essay whose titular question, "Where Have All the Poets Gone?" provided a platform for various musings regarding the political state of contemporary American poetics. According to Vidal, "For centuries, poets were the mouthpieces railing loudly against injustice. They gave voice to the hardships and evils facing people everywhere... What has happened?" He further suggested that poets writing today have failed to create work that carries the same "weight" as the poems written by their literary forefathers.

Should American poets still be trying to write "Howl"? Are Neruda, Kerouac, Baraka, and the rest of the Beat Generation the only viable prototypes for political literary expression in American culture? How does the influx of identities, voices, and life experiences that are now expressed in mainstream American letters potentially create and communicate new political vision(s) -- vision that may sound or appear different from Ginsberg's poetic/political tour de force, but is no less necessary, compelling, challenging, or iconoclastic? What do we even mean when we talk about the weight of a political work? How is that weight both carried and expressed by poetry today?

To address these questions, Sundress Publications' newest anthology Political Punch: Contemporary Poems on the Politics of Identity showcases the substantial amount of political writing that is being done today.

Contributors include Kenzie Allen, Jasmine An, Cameron Awkward-Rich, Ahi Baraka, Anne Barngrover, Jennifer Bartlett, Scott Bear Don't Walk, Erin Belieu, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Jennifer Jackson Berry, Callista Buchen, Cortney Larmar Charleston, Sarah A. Chavez, Chen Chen, Alicia Cole, CA Conrad, Oliver De La Paz, Emile DeWeaver, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Amber Flame, Lisa A. Flowers, Yolanda J. Franklin, Jennie Frost, Carmen Gimenez-Smith, Arielle Greenberg , M. Ayodele Heath, Sara Henning, Jeb Herrin, Elizabeth Hoover, Mark Irwin, Allison Joseph, Bhanu Kapil, Vandana Khanna, Ayisha Knight-Shaw, EJ Koh, Kristin LaTour, Kenji C. Liu, Timothy Liu, M. Mack, Shahé Mankerian, Shane McCrae, Freesia McKee, Lynn Melnick, Philip Metres, Hoa Nguyen, Jennifer Perrine, Saba Syed Razvi, Jessica Reidy, Lois Roma-Deeley, Danny A. Romero, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Danielle Sellers, Glenn Shaheen, Raena Shirali, Karen Skolfield, Christopher Soto, aka Loma, Anna B. Sutton, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, Emma Trelles, Donna Vorreyer, Jim Warner, Ginny Wiedhardt, Hanif Willis-Abdurraquib, and Emily Jungmin Yoon!