(Kuhl House Poets Series, 2012)
"Oni Buchanan’s startling new collection stages the sacred, violent, and beautiful encounter between the human and the animal, each wild, domesticated, caged, terrified, and liberated. These wondrously inflamed poems recall the eerie worlds of early Plath, yet the pleading, enraged, but ultimately tender voice is entirely Buchanan’s."
— Thomas Heise, associate professor of English, McGill University
"There is a road that winds from Buchanan’s masterful, animal ear to her strange and magnificent heart that is unlike any road ever traveled. It is the road the most fragile creatures—Violence and Mourning—take to bring themselves home. Buchanan is my favorite species of poet: the rarest of the real."
— Sabrina Orah Mark, author, The Babies
"Must a Violence is a gorgeous ode to the infinitely unnoticed sounds and movements of the world. From hearing 'the flank of a fish creak' to feeling the 'presence underneath' a woman’s hair, this book gives us the world inside of the world, the sensory experience beneath and beyond even the deepest reaches of our days. No other poet writes like Oni Buchanan."
— Katie Ford, author, Colosseum
"Must a Violence has an ethical music beneath its desire, lines 'ricocheting from one elastic / possibility to the next.' These possibilities must be heard, as courageously as Oni Buchanan fiercely gives them to us here, today and now."
— Major Jackson, Richard Dennis Green & Gold Professor, University of Vermont
(University of Illinois Press, 2008)
“‘What makes the beauty of a shattered thing?’ reads a line kerneled inside Oni Buchanan’s wildly inventive Spring, a question thrusting up through the poem like an emergent seedling. Beauty and shatter are everywhere in this book. It's no surprise to learn that Buchanan is a classical pianist; the dazzling mathematics of her forms reach for sounds we've not heard yet, and her playful improvisations travel—with humor, heart, and unfailing nerve—back to the Metaphysicals, Dickinson, and Cummings, and forward into uncharted territory.”
— Mark Doty, author of My Alexandria and Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems
Electronic Literature Collection, Volume Two (2011)
Conduit Magazine (2006)
The Mandrake Vehicles challenges our notions of the normal economy of a poetic text by providing numerous different readings of the same set of letters, in the process concretely moving the graphemical (if not psychological) "subtext" of a poem to the foreground in clever, surprising ways. Transitional animations, in which letters fall, expand and disappear, transport the reader between texts like through a time (or other) sort of warp, a pictorial revelry that brings this seemingly stable, stylistically intricate text to the frontier of linguistic meaninglessness and back.
(Flash animation by Betsy Stone Mazzoleni)
(University of Georgia Press, 2003)
"Buchanan's work undertakes an encounter with all that is desperately, and strictly, and unavoidably, patterned—all that, inside and outside us, will not cease to pattern us...It is an inquiry undergone with such urgency, accuracy, and intensity that one grows astonished, even a bit afraid...Frequencies of all kinds (musical, erotic, neurophysical, biological, mathematical) merge to inflict their objective truths on the flesh and heart of this animal we call our 'human' being. At times it seems this poet is able to speak from a place closer to the dangerous heart of evolution than anyone has ever attempted, her exploration of the mechanical nature of desire and the desiring face of the inhuman arriving at a ferociously beautiful visionary understanding—hallucinatory, scientific, vatic, and filled with deep longing, sadness, and pathos."
— Jorie Graham, author of Never
"These poems are like road maps that have been creased and spilled on, so that the experience is one of rupture and loss of direction. The poems exude a knowledge of pain, physical and psychological, and the poems themselves are ways to extract and heal the pain quickly. The animal body, suffering."
— Fanny Howe, author of Indivisible
"Oni Buchanan's stunning poems give voice to the animal that is bred by grief, a creature whose experience of private calamity can be neither named nor forgotten. 'They send me out on an errand for the words,' she writes. Aching and beautiful and brutal and often self-brutalizing, the poems in What Animal are astonishing evidence of the clairvoyance of the bereaved."
— Mark Levine, author of Enola Gay