“The energy of Nicole Callihan’s new chapbook, “Downtown” is kinetic. Image to interwoven image, the poem shouts out a revelation, then moves around the corner to find another: “I wander the sky until morning. / Oklahoma floods./ My mother drives home from her 12-hour shift at the ER. / What gets washed away?/ I am an old dirt road./ Washed away, out, up.” Callihan is a master of juxtaposition. A crane seen from a hospital window that’s lit up with lights forming a heart becomes just a few lines later, a reminder or a beloved, dead poet: “Heart. Crane.” Callihan’s images in this beautiful book resonate, stay fixed and return to your mind again and again: a man leaning against the blue wall, an apartment high in the sky, the Ancient Greek chorus of the people on the Brooklyn avenue below. “Downtown” will pull you in and not let you leave its dreamlike trance until you, like the speaker, transform.”
Iris Jamahl Dunkle, Sonoma County Poet Laureate 2016-2017
“It’s tempting to imagine we’ve surpassed the era described by Sexton and Plath, but in “Downtown,” Nicole Callihan takes us into the broken heart of Brooklyn, where to be poet, wife, mother, teacher, Southerner, and resident of a tall glass building is to wrestle, as those earlier poets did, with invisibility, loss, and “disgraceful appetites.” Fragments and layers, lies and secrets, jokes and unanswered calls—Callihan makes a world, between earth and sky, in which nothing is as it seems and the person whose poem we’re reading is too distracted or wounded to truly inhabit her own attitudes or identity or body. But the poem she writes—or rather, it “writes itself”—is magnificent, knows itself perfectly, and tells the entire unsettling truth, so that everything important can begin.”
Matt Longabucco, author of The Sober Day (DoubleCross Press) and Everybody Suffers: The Selected Poems of Juan García Madero (O’Clock Press 2014)
THE DEEPLY FLAWED HUMAN
The poems in The Deeply Flawed Human re-imagine the poet as artist describing 30 works of art in the form of museum wall labels at a retrospective exhibition.
Praise for The Deeply Flawed Human:
"These poems -- lush, vulnerable, deeply playful, and wise -- dazzled me. The great gift of Callihan's imagination is the way it lights yours up, as you're reading. The cumulative effect is brilliant: Callihan has made a shimmering gallery in honor of the heart-breaking, hopeful art of inventing life."
Kristin Dombek, author of The Selfishness of Others (FSG, 2016)
"The "I" is deeply flawed and gives off a helluva lotta noise. But in The Deeply Flawed Human, Nicole Callihan explores her deeply flawed "I" in ingeniously artful setting after setting. And it's so much fun to watch as more and more disintegrating selves pop out of this deeply flawed matroyshka where microwaves and funfetti share the frame. And it's also sad and honest and beautiful to watch these selves studying the face they share, beneath which they're all angling hard for a shot at the light."
Jennifer L. Knox, author of Days of Shame & Failure (Bloof, 2015).
A STUDY IN SPRING
with Zoë Ryder White
Winner of the 2015 Baltic Writing Residency Chapbook Contest. Chosen by judge, Bob Hicok.
Praise for A Study in Spring:
“Part friendly (and at times flirtatious) correspondence, part lyrically charged banter that ignites the playful brain spasms, and part academic conversation that's gone delightfully awry and landed in someplace altogether more fascinating than any assigned essay, A Study in Spring is a strange and welcomed poetic delight. Acrobatic in its construction, but satisfyingly candid and scintillating in its execution, this is a terrific chapbook made for those who love the intriguing act of eavesdropping.”
Ada Limón, National Book Award finalist for Bright Dead Thing
Borrowing her title from the old carnival ride that loops its riders round and round, Nicole Callihan’s SuperLoop is as familiar and as thrilling as another go on a long loved ride. Paired with artwork from fellow Brooklyn-ite Re Jin, Callihan’s poems—sometimes wild, sometimes quiet, always unassuming—take us to a place we’ve been before, but through her eyes that dusty place becomes a bit more magical. Here, the waitress always brings extra whipped cream; divorced parents fall into each other’s arms; orchids grow; and, in spite of themselves and the world around them, people find love and walk, albeit reluctantly, into the sunset. Fierce, funny, at times, downright sweet—for Callihan, just making it is a miracle, and it’s a miracle she’s not afraid to name.
Praise for Superloop:
“Precise, graceful, and generous, the poems in Super Loop, seem to be born out of a deep, careful attention
and a profound compassion. Sometimes the quiet observer, sometimes the kid in the center of the messed-up
carnival, these poems are the fireflies you've missed all winter, the longed-for return of the bees. Unaffected
and inherently hopeful, Callihan's work is as merciful as it is moving.”--Ada Limón
“These poems dig deep into the ragged nature of what it means to be alive, unveiling in bristling clarity, the
cracks, quirks, “thorny edges,” and great beauty of being. A master in the language of blush and bruise, Nicole
Callihan tells stories that rub the mind like a fever in a cool wind.” --Dawn Lundy Martin
“So unpretentious and alive and interesting.”--Jean Valentine
Read a review: here.
Henry River Mill Village
In 1904, the building of a planned community began, and the Henry River Manufacturing Company started producing fine cotton yarns in 1905. In its time, Henry River Mill Village was a completely self-sustained town: it operated under its own currency, generated its own electricity and churned its own moonshine. While the mill thrived during its operating years, the twelve-hour shifts often proved back-breaking for workers. By the time the 12,000 spindles slowed to a halt in the early 1970s, many workers had hoboed out of town looking for higher wages. The mill itself burned down in 1977, but the two-story company store and many of the worker’s houses remain, creating an eerie silhouette—and serving as inspiration to both artists and filmmakers—in Burke County.
Writer Nicole Callihan, whose grandmother grew up “on the hill,” combines forces with longtime Henry River resident Ruby Young Keller to create this compelling account of a mill village turned ghost town turned Hollywood movie set. Having gathered stories and photographs from former residents and their families, Henry River Mill Village emerges as not simply a rich account of North Carolina textile industry but as a true testament to a community that flourished even in hardship.
Anthologies & Teaching Editions
The brooklyn reader
Course reader for the Expository Writing Program, NYU Tandon School of Engineering.
four american poets
Four American Poets is a collection of incandescent poems about the experience of living in, and trying to understand, America. In streetwise ballads and searching monologues, Philip Fried, Nicole Callihan, Jay Passer and Michalle Gould reinvent form and stretch the boundaries of poetic language in their quest for truth and integrity in a dangerous and fragmented world.
from medusa to the sky
THE EXERCISES IN FROM MEDUSA TO THE SKY grew out of Teachers & Writers Collaborative’s long history of providing creative writing programs for students in New York City’s District 75 schools and classrooms, which serve students with special learning needs.
First published in 2001, Medusa has proved to be a favorite resource for teaching artists—writers working in K–12 schools—as well as classroom teachers. Although the exercises were developed by Teachers & Writers Collaborative teaching artists who taught special needs students, the ideas in this book have been used as a starting point for lesson plans to engage a variety of young learners in imaginative writing.