Chelsey Clammer is the author of the award-winning essay collection, Circadian (Red Hen Press 2017), and BodyHome (Hopewell Publications 2015). Her work has appeared in Salon, The Rumpus, Hobart, Brevity, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Normal School, and Black Warrior Review. She teaches online writing classes with WOW! Women on Writing and is a freelance editor. Chelsey received an MFA in creative writing from Rainier Writing Workshop, and an MA in women’s studies from Loyola University Chicago. She currently resides in Colorado. You can read more of her writing at www.chelseyclammer.com.
Human Heartbeat Detected
Publication Date: August 30, 2022
Human Heartbeat Detected is a collection of essays that explores how we are wonderfully and terrifyingly human. Hitting on themes such as trauma, emotional abuse, marriage, mental illness, and grief, these essays delve into how humans are simultaneously beautiful and terrible to one another. Though regardless of how we might make each other shatter, our hearts continue beating—even when we might not want them to—and we wade through the wreckage of our lives to find ways to survive. With exquisite language and captivating storytelling, the essays in Human Heartbeat Detected face what it means to be human.
“Chelsey Clammer’s Human Heartbeat Detected pulses with energy, peril, sexuality, and fearless compassion. These innovative essays, many of them in flash form, push at the boundaries of conventional prose, while at the same time pushing toward revelation and understanding.”
—Dinty W. Moore, author of To Hell With It
The women in these essays, including Clammer herself, are “just taking it blow-by-blow, bracing . . . for the impact,” struggling against assault or abuse or mental illness or a court system that doesn’t believe them, a healthcare system they can’t afford, or silences they don’t understand. Human Heartbeat Detected introduces us to women on l(edges) who scramble back, or don’t. Clammer, who describes herself as a “terribly impulsive woman,” once again showcases how the essay, as a genre, follows its own impulses. “We’re all full of surprises,” Clammer writes. So is this bold collection.
—Jill Talbot, author of The Way We Weren’t: A Memoir
In her third collection, Clammer’s command of—and true delight in—the lyric essay is on full and marvelous display. Human Heartbeat Detected is an exquisite and almost improbable marriage of opposites, in both content and form. Brash, bawdy, and tender by turns, these essays linger in the shadow where love and hatred overlap, pinpoint the instant when the past bleeds into present tense, articulate with awful beauty how the body chafes against the mind. Shelve this somewhere between Purpura and Baudelaire; these essays exist at the precise juncture of the sublime and the profane.
—Marya Hornbacher, author of Madness
“It’s rare to read a book as daring and alive as Human Heartbeat Detected. Chelsey Clammer isn’t afraid to take us to the darkest places, but it’s always in service of ongoingness, a deep belief in love and what it exacts of us. How do we live in the wake of catastrophe? Every sentence here strobes with the light of that question.”
—Paul Lisicky, author of The Narrow Door
“In Human Heartbeat Detected, Chelsey Clammer’s innovative and gripping essay collection, trauma lives side by side with possibility. Lives are fractured, yes—by assault, abuse, self-harm, mental illness, suicidal acts—but, as the narrator reminds us, ‘fractured is better than shattered.’ Like trauma, which ‘isn’t a linear experience’ but rather ‘loops,’ Clammer’s essays bend and twirl and spiral and twist, transforming pain into art.”
—Rebecca McClanahan, author of In the Key of New York City: A Memoir in Essays
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Circadian is a collection of lyric essays that reach beyond personal narrative and exist in the vast landscape of curiosity and intrigue. With an astute attentiveness to language and form, Chelsey Clammer poetically weaves personal stories into the narratives of different–yet connecting–fields of study. Through this, she explores experiences of trauma, mental illnesses, and the rhythmic and oscillating desires for solitude and connection. Using math to figure out the problem of an alcoholic father, weather to re-consider trauma, the history of sexism and the facts of its lingual effects, anatomy as a way to process memories, and even grammar to question our identities, these “facts” don’t work as metaphors, but frameworks and forms that naturally circle around one another. Each essay in Circadian stands as a witness to the brilliant and destructive cycles that create our lives.
“Clammer (BodyHome), a contributor to McSweeney’s and the Rumpus, engages with trauma, letting go, and the pleasures of writing in this collection of 12 lyric essays. She is a compassionate and self-reflective narrator, weaving the personal into experiments with form. . . . Each essay builds on the one before, demonstrating the authors evolution as a writer and survivor. Clammer has successfully bridged genres here while exploring difficult subjects.”—Publishers Weekly
“In her second collection, Clammer (BodyHome, 2015) once again stretches the boundaries of the form, pushing against ‘the tenuous fences between poetry and fiction and nonfiction and humor and critical writing and academic writing and blogging and every other genre that has existed, ever, in order to discover how to discuss our lives.’ The essays are notable for their inventive language; many take the form of prose poems or verbal collages; one is constructed of bullet-pointed sentences; another, like a class syllabus. . . . An affecting memoir emerges from a dozen circuitous, digressive essays.”—Kirkus Reviews
“I have never read an interrogation of language, gender politics, or aftermath quite like Clammer’s passionately searing Circadian. Though evocative of writers from Anne Carson to Kate Zambreno, Clammer’s urgency and electricity here create a flash of lightning all her own.”—Gina Frangello, author of A Life of Men and Every Kind of Wanting
“In these beautifully written essays, Clammer considers the intricate, confounding, and powerful connections between story and body, narrative and physical form. She examines the subject of trauma through a series of innovative frames, casting a fearless and curious gaze on her material and bringing new insights to life.”—Marya Hornbacher, New York Times bestselling author of Wasted (Pulitzer Prize finalist)
“Chelsey Clammer’s new book of essays, Circadian, is a lyrical, playful, and delightfully idiosyncratic exploration of everyday wonder, language, and the ‘poetics of pain.’ Her voice is surefooted and smart, deftly guiding her reader through rich landscapes of memory and meaning; but it’s also equally critical and confrontational, holding a light up to experiences that demand our witness and daring us to think deeply.”—Steven Church, author of One with the Tiger: Sublime and Violent Encounters Between Humans and Animals
“In sharp, beautiful language, Chelsey Clammer creates elegant, intimate prose about the violence of being female, being a daughter, the way PTSD engraves itself upon us, altering us body and mind, majorly shaping our experience of our own lives. A powerful book.”—Michelle Tea, author of Black Wave