Poet / Educator
Chelsea Bunn is a poet and educator living in New Mexico. She is the author of Forgiveness (Finishing Line Press, 2019), which was a finalist for the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards, the Paris Book Festival Award, and a semi-finalist in the New Women’s Voices Chapbook Competition. Her poems appear in publications in print and online, including Sky Island Journal, Maudlin House, Apathy Magazine, The Ellis Review, Cover, The Big Windows Review, Sooth Swarm Journal, Dogwood, and other journals and anthologies. She earned her MFA in Poetry and her BA in English at Hunter College in New York, where she received a teaching fellowship, a Norma Lubetsky Friedman Scholarship, and taught creative writing for eleven years. She was selected as Thinker in Residence by Art in Odd Places, was a finalist for the Lit Fest Fellowship for Emerging Writers, was twice awarded the Academy of American Poets Catalina Páez & Seumas MacManus Prize, and was named a Best New Poet of 2018. Her work has received recognition from The National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Poetry Society of America, Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Georgetown Review, and elsewhere. Born and raised in NYC, she currently serves as Assistant Professor of Creative Writing for the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at Navajo Technical University.
“It can help to imagine anguish / as a small creature pawing at your hem, / wanting your attention,” Chelsea Bunn writes in this moving, unflinching collection. As she attends “the catacombs of worry” where the mind responds to what the body suffers, reprieve is hard won, provisional. Bunn’s poems investigate the ways in which redemption comes through acts of language. How attentively she listens into experience in order to transform what she hears into poetry.
— Donna Masini, 4:30 Movie
The poems in Chelsea Bunn's Forgiveness reckon with how the spirit of a woman survives and thrives in the midst of and in spite of love and loss. In one poem, for instance, the speaker says, “My body knows / what to do to stay alive,” and each of these poems seem to go about the business of proving as much.
— Jericho Brown, The Tradition
Forgiveness is not a book about forgiveness, but is instead a book about the desire for forgiveness, which can be the most overpowering of all desires, particularly when it cannot be satisfied. The most accomplished of these poems—in particular, “Inheritance”—become traps in the moment that unsatisfiable desire breaks from the poem to overwhelm the reader, and it is in those moments that Chelsea Bunn’s inescapable art is perfected.
— Shane McCrae, In the Language of My Captor
Chelsea Bunn's book Forgiveness begs to be read over and over. These are poems that grieve and yell and fight and live and, most importantly, reveal. Bunn's poems show us the depths of human compassion and failure in language that sizzles and soothes. Reader, the openness of these poems is an invitation into our own heads, into our own numerous wounds and joys so that we may save ourselves "from returning / to the dark rooms of [our] suffering."
— José Olivarez, Citizen Illegal
“This is the year of awakening” begins Chelsea Bunn’s stunning chapbook, Forgiveness. Tender in rage, flamboyant in mercy, these poems break the heart and put it back together again. We are fortunate to have this marvelous young poet among us.
— Jan Heller Levi, Orphan; Skyspeak
"[A] reminder that contemporary poetry is not only alive and well but continuing to grow."
-- Publishers Weekly
"This collection stands out among the crowd claiming to represent emergent poets. Much of the editing and preliminary reading was done by emerging poets themselves, which results in an anthology that's fresh and eclectic, and may actually represent a significant portion of the best new poetry being written by the next generation."
-- Virginia Quarterly Review
Entering its fourteenth year, Best New Poets has established itself as a crucial venue for rising poets and a valuable resource for poetry lovers. The only publication of its kind, this annual anthology is made up exclusively of work by writers who have not yet published a full-length book. The poems included in this eclectic sampling represent the best from the many that have been nominated by the country’s top literary magazines and writing programs, as well as some two thousand additional poems submitted through an open online competition. The work of the fifty writers represented here provides the best perspective available on the continuing vitality of poetry as it is being practiced today.
Invocation (Dunes Review, Forthcoming)
Lynnhaven River, 1706 (Footnote: A Literary Journal of History, Forthcoming)
Glossary (The Moving Force Journal, November 2019)
Antilogy (The Ideate Review, October, 2019)
Man's World (Awakened Voices Literary Magazine, September 2019)
Forgiveness (Voicemail Poems, August 2019)
Forgiveness (Hashtag Art Magazine and Apple News, May 2019)
Litany (Best New Poets 2018, Samovar Press, 2019)
Erotic City (The Ellis Review, November 2018)
Content Advisory (Sooth Swarm Journal, October 2018)
Saint Elizabeth (Sky Island Journal, April 2018)
The Beau Geste Effect (Noble / Gas Qtrly, March 2018)
Missed Connections (Maudlin House, February 2018)
Inheritance; Procrastination (Apathy Magazine, February 2018)
These Stories Are True (Cover, December 2017)
Valentine's Day 2012: Last Message From My Father (Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing, December 2017)
Forgiveness (The Big Windows Review, November 2017)
Race (Art in Odd Places, 2016)
Somewhere on the Way to Connecticut (Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry and Prose, Spring 2008, print)
Apartment (Big City Lit, Fall 2007)
She Disguises Herself as Him for Halloween (Georgetown Review, Spring 2007, print)
Each Evening (ology, Spring 2006)
Preparation (ology, Spring 2006)
I imagine us as bricks, lying neatly against each other in a wall, cement in between (Perspectives: A Journal of Critical and Creative Writing, Spring 2005)
Autumn (Perspectives: A Journal of Critical and Creative Writing, Spring 2005)
Albuquerque (Perspectives: A Journal of Critical and Creative Writing, Spring 2005)
Definition (The Olivetree Review, Spring 2003, print)
I wish I didn’t feel so old (Movin’. Ed. Dave Johnson. New York: Orchard, 2000)
2006 / MFA
Creative Writing (Poetry)
2003 / BA
English (Creative Writing)
2018 - present
Assistant Professor of Creative Writing
Navajo Technical University, Bachelor of Fine Arts Program
2017 - 2018
University of New Mexico, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
2017 - 2018
Santa Fe Community College, Continuing Education Department
2005 - 2016
Hunter College, Department of English
An Excerpt from Chelsea Bunn’s ‘Forgiveness’
"If every offer of forgiveness were an Emily Dickinson poem, we’d be searching for the 4th and 5th meaning of each word. Chelsea Bunn’s Forgiveness (Finishing Line Press) is a dive into the language of forgiveness."
"Forgiveness explores the necessity of releasing guilt and its associated sense of worthlessness in order to thrive. The experimental forms used underline and reinforce the sense of each poem and are deployed effectively. They show that mental and physical health are intertwined and physical damage is reflected in the mind."
"After the poem Forgiveness, the poems continue to depict unyielding grief, but cease to depict unyielding guilt. A sense of solace is found at last in the desert through an illustration of spiritual acceptance that all things must return to the Earth."
"Through these poems, we are entangled in time, with shifting lines pulling us between the internal hopes and the presence of others they answer to, asking, How far can forgiveness extend? Can forgiving ourselves and others go hand in hand?"
"Rarely do I see a book whose title, individual poem titles, and internal climaxes so snugly align. Under Bunn’s critical eye, some new alchemy has wrought a visceral, unforgettable work that resonates and clutches at my coattails, unforgiving in its pursuit of the reader’s heart."
"I’ve been learning how to be in the world as a woman, without being just a woman who is attached to a man. For the first time in my life, I am supporting myself financially, living alone, enjoying my own preferences and feeling lucky to have freedom and autonomy."
Chelsea Bunn unpacks the power of poetry
"What's easy to see in Bunn's poetry are moments decelerated and examined so their full inertia might be revealed. The practice, then, allows for the writer to 'slow down' to 'really sit with it and look at it and let it inform you.'”
"While this richness alone is a gift of the poem, it’s the ending that drives home the connection to human experience. This speaker caught in meditation between the present and the past is, at the end, found at a loss."