Catching Up With Nicole Callihan

Where can we read some of your recent work?

My novella, The Couples, was published by Mason Jar Press in summer 2019. Recent poems appear in Foundry, Cagibi, Unbroken, and Lunch Ticket.

What are you reading right now?

Forever Millay: For years I thought of Edna St. Vincent Millay as a formalist, and not a particularly exciting one. I easily dismissed her for Sexton or even–dare I say it?–Bukowski, but turning to her in middle life thrills me. Her poems are so full of passion and death, so musical and moving, a tongue in the cheek, a heart on the sleeve. They risk all the right things; they remind me of why we poets turn day after day to the page.

Laura Kasischke’s If a Stranger Approaches You: I love love love Kasischke’s poems, and she is a master of the short story. These are so tight and haunting and seeing. It’s like she sees into the brain, the heart, the dark underbelly, all the bedroom drawers. A true and magical seer.

Robert Alter’s The Book of Psalms: Alter’s translations of the Psalms FLOOR me. “I weary in my sighing. I make my bed swim every night, with my tears I water my couch” (6:6). Having gone to many tent revivals with my grandmother when I was a little girl, Alter reminds me why I sat at the preacher’s feet for so long lapping up his words. I remember memorizing the 23rd Psalm in Bible School. It was the first poem I ever memorized, and walking back through those green meadows, near the quiet waters is such a distinct pleasure. O, the longing, the wax heart, the limbs falling apart. I want to commit this whole book to memory.

What’s next for you? 

In collaboration with Zoe Ryder White, I won the 2019 Sixth Finch chapbook award. Our book, The Catalogue, will be out for AWP. 


Nicole Callihan’s books include SuperLoop and Translucence (with Samar Abdel Jaber), and the chapbooks: A Study in Spring (with Zoë Ryder White), The Deeply Flawed Human, Downtown, and Aging. Her work has appeared in, among others, PEN America, Copper Nickel, and American Poetry Review. Find out more at www.nicolecallihan.com.