Kalisha is a novelist, TV commentator and arts advocate. Invite her to your next event today.

Kalisha Buckhanon

Writer, Author of Speaking of Summer and school favorite Upstate, Women’s Safety and Support Advocate, Black Women’s Culture Expert, former Crime TV Commentator

Contact: MacMillan Speakers | 646.307.5058 | speakers@macmillan.com

(photo: DeJohn Barnes)

Programs (PDF | PNG)

Use It All: Kalisha tells students, aspiring creatives and more to use all their experiences—rewarding and challenging—to build lives they may not think they can and give gifts they may not know they have.

“Speaking Our Summers”: Women, Safety, Support: This program creates a safe space for campuses, institutions and more to learn and discuss Kalisha’s findings, activism and lived experiences behind her recent novel Speaking of Summer, praised in Kirkus Reviews for how her portrait of “grief, fragmented memories, and inner turmoil all synthesize current scientific research on how people cope with traumatic experiences and might seek to heal.”

Upstate: Motivating Our Young People, Building Achievement, Preventing Mass Incarceration: Drawing on her teaching and work with youth, Kalisha visits schools and criminal justice, activist and community organizations to inspire students, activists and parents. She gives special emphasis on achievement and goals to overcome past experiences with the criminal justice system and prevent entry to it altogether. Takeaway exercises focus on finding strengths and future goals to motivate.

Negressions: This is a celebration of Black women’s collective cultural and societal contributions, amidst historical resilience to beat tremendous odds, to empower and encourage all women everywhere.

Find Spirit in Writing: Kalisha draws on her personal creative history and lifelong relationship to writing, as well as her favorite writers and texts, to motivate writers of all levels to turn their gifts and ideas into tangible projects to give the world. The emphasis is on building resources, finding mentors, setting benchmarks, identifying credible and worthy opportunities, and establishing a daily or regular measurable practice.

Speaker Bio

“At the root of my work is concern over all the lost voices we’re not hearing.” -Kalisha Buckhanon

Kalisha Buckhanon’s celebrated novels Speaking of Summer, Solemn, Conception and school, library and teen favorite Upstate have had her hailed as “A timeless voice for a new generation” (School Library Journal). Institutions, campuses, groups and media wishing to spark conversations on progress through arts and education, avoiding or coping with the criminal justice system, advocating for Black women and privileging women’s mental health will find fruitful material in her books and a rich leader in her talks. She also gives publishing seminars and writing workshops. Essence introduced her at age 27 as one of “Three Writers to Watch” and she went on to appear on ID Channel, BET and TV-One to discuss crimes involving women. Her 2019 novel Speaking of Summer is listed as a “Best Of’ for 40 major media outlets such as Essence, O Magazine, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Ms., TIME, BBC, Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, NBC News.com, LitHub and more. Kalisha graduated into Phi Beta Kappa from University of Chicago with a B.A. in English Language and Literature, and later an M.A. in the same. She has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from The New School in New York City. She has taught and worked with youth of all ages in New York City, her native Kankakee, Illinois, and Chicago where she currently resides and travels from.

Select Past Events

National Book Foundation “Literature for Justice” program, American Writers Museum Tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks, 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, Gwendolyn Brooks Black Writers and Literature Conference, New York University’s Institute of African American Affairs, Oakton College Women’s and Gender Studies Conference, Waubonsee Community College Department of English, National Book Club Conference, American Library Association Annual Conference, National Council of Teachers of English Annual Conference, Literature For All of Us, New York Public Libraries, Chicago Public Libraries, Brooklyn Public Library, Free Library of Philadelphia and many high school to speak on Upstate.