The Disordered: Turning Mental Illness into Poetry One Disorder at a Time

Most of us have experienced mental disorders either personally or have had friends and family who have suffered to some degree. The Disordered, by my good friend Anhvu Buchanan, is a book of poems utilizing personal experience as well as vivid imagery to describe various mental disorders.

Photo Credit: Parker Fitzgerald

Photo Credit: Parker Fitzgerald

“I wanted to take a psychological and scientific text like the DSM IV and kind of transform it and see if I can turn it into a poetic text” says Buchanan about his inspiration for the book.

I personally don’t know much about poetry other than being an avid fan of Charles Bukowski, so when I heard Buchanan was publishing his work I was stoked on supporting a friend but had no idea how much this book would affect me. Buchanan was able to capture the emotions, imagery, and experience of suffering from mental illness and make it beautiful. I recommend this work not only because I enjoy it but because of its ability to resonate within each of us.

Because I am pretty unfamiliar with poetry in general I asked Buchanan for some poet recommendations.

“If you ever need to win over a love interest, just give them an E. E. Cummings love poem.” says Buchanan “You’ll have them in the bag.”

He also recommends Anne Sexton as well as his current favorite Bob Hicock. You’re welcome for introducing you to the fancy world of poetry.

Buchanan is currently on a book reading tour in support of The Disordered and I was lucky enough to catch up with him at Mellow Pages Library in Brooklyn for a reading. I’m also going to plug Mellow Pages Library because it was a super rad place. The library consists of a small space full of over 1,200 independent books, poetry, and zines. I highly recommend checking it out.

Photo Credit: Lisa Brown

Photo Credit: Lisa Brown

Buchanan will also be releasing another book Backhanded Compliments and Other Ways to Say I Love You on Press: Works on Paper in December. This work will be a collection of love poems. However, I’m more excited about Buchanan’s other project which consists of “bromance” poems.

“It’s a collection of poems to my bromantic heroes.” Buchanan elaborates “Because I’m trying to start the bromanticism poetry movement in San Francisco.”

Buchanan’s “bros” include Paul Rudd, Ben Affleck, Seth Rogan, James Franco, and his personal love; Kanye West.

Broaden your horizons and get some poetry in your life. The Disordered is the perfect place to start!


Anhvu Buchanan

Mellow Pages Library

Buy The Disordered!

Sunny Outside Press

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