Catching Up with Alisha Bruton

Cover of "We Try To Touch Everything" by N.B. Chaliha and A. Bruton

Where can we read some of your recent work? 

Tinderbox published work from a series of mine called How Not to Clean a Fish, and several of the poems in the series have been published in other journals including Pouch ( and Jellyfish  ( You can find poems from another series called Revenge is the Best Revenge in Swan Children ( Noland Bo Chaliha and I also self-published a chapbook called We Try To Touch Everything. We made a limited run of handmade books with wooden typeset on an old industrial letterpress. We also made a run of prints of the title of the book, which is a line from one of the poems. 

What are you reading right now? 

Paul Bloom’s Against Empathy capsized my sense of morality, once and for all. Deep Work by Cal Newport has increased my focus and productivity. Jorie Graham’s Fast is a bite bigger than I can chew but I continually try, anyway. 

Robert Wright’s Why Buddhism is True is the book I want to put in the Christmas stocking of every person I love. It’s a seamless, muscular, understated exploration of the surprising intersection between Buddhism’s core tenets and recent studies in neuroimaging. If you’ve been struggling to meditate, this book will convince you the practice is worthwhile, even though that’s not Wright’s intent. 

I keep returning to Carrie Lorig’s Nods and SE Smith’s I Live in a Hut as if they were a watering hole and a salt lick, respectively. 

What’s next for you?

I was recently interviewed on the podcast Ponder & Practice about my research on ADHD, and how it intersects with introversion and the highly sensitive trait. You can find that here:

My next big research project is on interoception, which is your felt sense of the state of your body; thirst, hunger, pain, digestion, your heartbeat, your breath, etc. I already feel as though the project will spawn a thousand new poems. I’m extraordinarily grateful to be situated where I am- making a career out of being curious about the body. 


Alisha Bruton is a physician and research scientist in Portland, Oregon. She studies how nutrition, stress, and body awareness impact attention and behavior in children. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, fly fishing, and gardening. 

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Instagram: @thevulgar