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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best creativity magazine in the UK“, poetry book Chimera by Brad Buchanan explores the conflicting emotions from his experiences with cancer.
Few people have made it through the nightmare of a stem cell transplant gone sideways. Even fewer people have dared to write about the amazing and perplexing process of becoming a genetic chimera.
Breaking this taboo, Brad Buchanan shares his dramatic transformation and remarkable recovery in eloquent, surrealistic, and deeply moving passages. Chimera, Buchanan’s fourth collection of poems, tells the difficult but nonetheless wonderful story of the author’s stem cell transplant in 2016 through lyrically oblique confessions and hallucinatory vignettes.
By becoming a genetic chimera (his DNA was altered by the successful engraftment of his brother’s stem cells), the transplant enabled Buchanan to survive a malignant blood cancer after a rocky and nearly fatal start. He and his family now face a number of additional challenges as a result: the dreaded lymphoma recurrence, a persistent illness known as graft-versus-host disease, and numerous conflicting emotions.
In Chimera, Buchanan also questions and protests the militaristic and violent language that is used to talk about cancer survivorship. He also shows how bad this “warrior” mentality can be in the long run. The book traces a positive narrative of recovery and acceptance while addressing the issues of survivor guilt, chemical dependency, and unprocessed or displaced trauma.
“Chimera is a testament to the enduring power of poetry to capture and overcome moments of suffering and confusion, and a document of the serenity that the acceptance of illness and disability can offer,” said Brad Buchanan.
Brad Buchanan holds degrees from McGill University (BA in English, 1994), the University of Toronto (MA in English, 1995), and Stanford University (Ph.D. in English, 2001). He was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Up until his retirement in 2016, he taught Creative Writing in addition to British and Postcolonial Literature at Sacramento State University. Nearly 200 journals have published his poetry, fiction, and academic writings.
The Miracle Shirker, published by Poetry Corner Press in 2005, and Swimming the Mirror: The Scars, Aligned: Poems for My Daughter (Roan Press, 2009), Living with Graft-Versus-Host Disease: A Medical Memoir (Finishing Line Press, 2019), Hanif Kureishi (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) and Oedipus Against Freud: Academic Books, as well as How I Stopped Fighting Cancer and Started Healing, Armin Lear Press, 2021 In Twentieth-Century British Literature: Myth and the End(s) of Humanism (University of Toronto Press, 2010), Indict the Author of Affection, his third academic publication: McGill-Queen’s University Press will soon publish Affectation and Catachresis in Hamlet.
After receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatments, he underwent a stem cell transplant at the U.C. Davis Medical Center in 2016 after being diagnosed with a rare form of T-cell lymphoma in February 2015. The transplant required a lengthy recuperation period at home, a significant, albeit brief, loss of vision, and 129 days in the hospital. He was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus-induced B-cell lymphoma at this time. He was declared cancer-free in the beginning of 2017 after participating in a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and he is still in remission at this time. However, his acute graft-versus-host disease has progressed into a chronic condition, requiring him to prematurely retire from Sacramento State in order to pursue full-time writing.
He co-facilitates a writing workshop for people struggling with illness, disability, and recovery and lives in Sacramento. He has two daughters with author Kate Washington, whom he is married to: Lucy (13), Nora (17). Washington has written a book about her difficult caregiving experiences for Buchanan: Already Baked: American caregivers and burnout (Beacon Press, 2021).
Find more from Brad Buchanan now:
For more information, please visit https://www.bradthechimera.com/, or follow the author on Twitter, Instagram and Tikok at @bradthechimera, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/brad.buchanan.503.
Publisher: Finishing Line Press
Release Date: November 18, 2022
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