Kalisha is a popular, loved keynote speaker and special guest. She has enlightened and informed the fiction writing community, English and M.F.A. program students, African-American cultural institutions, activist organizations and youth nationwide. Her novel Upstate remains a favorite of teachers and librarians, as one of New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens and the Young Adult Library Services Association Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers. For adult audiences, she ignites conversations on the state of our culture and society, African-American history and consciousness, literary freedom and expression, and women’s issues.
University of Chicago Emerging Writers Series, University of Chicago Gender Studies Department, Northwestern Lane Humanities Series, Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College-CUNY, School of the Art Institute-Chicago M.F.A Program, Gwendolyn Brooks Black Writing and Literature Conference, Chicago State University M.F.A. Program, New York University’s Institute of African American Affairs, University of Arkansas for the late E. Lynn Harris, Waubonsee Community College, Oakton College Women’s and Gender Studies Conference, University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, American Library Association Conference, National Council of Teachers of English Conference, National Book Club Conference, Union League Club Chicago, Literature For All of Us (Chicago), Kankakee Community College, Kankakee Public Library, New York Public Libraries, Brooklyn Public Library, Free Library of Philadelphia, Chicago Public Libraries, South Street Seaport Museum, Neighborhood Writing Alliance and more. (photo: Bruno Passigatti)
Justin Levine or Scottie Bowditch
175 5th Avenue
New York, NY, 10010
Kalisha Buckhanon is a novelist, writer and blogger who inspires compassion and celebration for the range of Black American and women’s lives her writing covers. With a gifted willingness to imagine her subjects’ interior lives and outer worlds, Buckhanon’s work is praised by media and fellow writers as in the tradition of Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Sapphire and James Baldwin.
In a trilogy of novels published from age 27 to 39, Buckhanon explored young Black people aiming to full exercise of their human rights and realization of the American dream. Upstate featured the spirited Antonio and Natasha, determined to continue their love affair and achieve commendable futures despite dramatic interruption by the criminal justice system of New York. Conception spans several eras of American history, narrating injustices against Black women as retold by the unborn child of Shivana, a Chicago teen seeking an abortion. Solemn features a Mississippi family and community weighed by systemic racism and roadblocks in their complex solidarity.
Kalisha’s short stories lend playful candor and shrewd insight to American lives-next-door: four women friends who find refuge in a weekly tradition (“Card Parties”), young love possible amidst a family’s dogfighting business (“Choke Chains”) and the sublime despair when a girl goes missing in a small town (“Tatiana”). She is a SheKnows.com “Expert Among Us” denouncing violence in important posts such as “We have to give our Black girls ‘The Talk'” and “What Do I Tell My Son?” Her blog, Negression, includes a “Say Her Name” series of writings about violence and injustice against women, covering such topics as questionable application of the death penalty and the celebration of unsung heroines. She has spoken on the criminal justice system and important books for NPR’s Eight Forty-Eight, BBC London and WVON Chicago as well as true-crime cases for ID Channel, BET and TV-One.
Kalisha attended University of Chicago and graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and has an M.F.A. from The New School in New York City. Her writings appear in Oxford American, Fiction International, Michigan Quarterly Review, Clutch, SheKnows, xoJane, BlogHer and many more. She has been a special guest of Northwestern’s Lane Humanities Series and University of Chicago’s Emerging Writers Series, a PEN American Center writing mentor to formerly incarcerated women, and “Spirit of Writing” online workshop teacher through The Eckleburg Workshops directed out of Johns Hopkins University.