Monday, February 24, 2014

#BLauthor1: Kristy Bowen

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Told you we were switching things up.

For our very first biweekly, spotlight-an-author post, we are so pleased to be able to offer three new prose poems by Kristy Bowen. Kristy's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Stolen Island, Yew Journal, Projectile, Requited, Diagram and Delirious Hem. She is the author of several longer and shorter works, most recently the shared properties of water and stars (Noctuary Press, 2013) and beautiful, sinister (Maverick Duck Press, 2013), as well as a longer collection of poems girl show (Black Lawrence Press, 2013). She is editor of the literary journal wicked alice, as well as dancing girl press.

radio ocularia 1, by Kristy Bowen
{radio ocularia}
Soon, my ears fill up with liquid, water in all my orifices. Holes in all my words loaded thick and leaking all over the linoleum.  I drew a circle with a sharpie and stood inside it. I drew a circle and waited, hearing everything and nothing, not quite sure what to do with my hands besides touch myself.  Misheard love for valve for vibration. I drew a circle and each hold in the body was thick with saltwater and close to sinking, filled with broken chandeliers and women's dark coats.  All my limbs wavery and exotic. Oceanic, and prone to tiny ships sailing in and out of my mouth at the slightest sign of weather.
At first, nothing was happening. But then everything that was happening was something bad. I could do impossible things with my voice. Build structures out of oak and brick and tiny plastic spoons. The house was filled with too many gears and dangling wires, the rivets that creaked while I tried to sleep. I was waiting for the words to line up all school like and sing. But there was still no air conditioning and sticky pleather couches in all the waiting rooms of every doctor I've ever seen. Still no solace in their green tinged light. Nothing was happening, but everything was happening so fast. I was waiting for the children to line up one by one in the hallway and take their medications. I was waiting for the riot when they did not.
radio ocularia 2, by Kristy Bowen
Until we've killed every single bird that has nested in my body, I sleep in the guest room.  Sleep with the stars above my head glowing like tiny reactors so far removed they flicker and occasionally go dark. The wings that shift in my belly are the same wings that tangle in my hair, but I am very careful to let them go willingly if they'll come back. Careful not to wreck their tiny bones with my fingers.  Careful not to cough or sniffle when the lights go out one by one.  When they’ve sung all night inside the box of me. Even when they returned weathered and broken and stunned.


I love best the surreal quality to these prose poems. They feel both connected and not; each has an element of expecting things to happen a certain way that never comes about. 

radio ocularia 3, by Kristy Bowen
Particularly in “{rigging},” the poem begins with the expectation that the speaker and another are going to kill “every single bird that has nested in [her] body,” but as it progresses, we see the speaker being “careful not to wreck their tiny bones … not to cough …” That one plural pronoun – “we” – in the opening line is so heavy; no killing can take place without the second person, but we learn and hear nothing about him or her that isn’t via negativa: the person is largely absent, not as “careful” or concerned with the life inside the speaker as she is, presumably still sleeping in the main bedroom because the speaker “sleep[s] in the guest room.,” “so far removed,” like the stars overhead.

In “{codex},” the scene seems to be a doctor’s office, or a vision of one, in which “I was waiting for the children to line up one by one in the hallway and take their medications.  I was waiting for the riot when they did not.” The expectation changes twice and puts us in the same disoriented state as the speaker. And in “{radio ocularia},” the speaker “Misheard love for valve for vibration.”

Things aren’t as they seem in these new poems by Kristy Bowen, but her imagery is so intriguing, her sense of musicality so strong, that we keep moving through these short pieces no matter which way they turn, then turn back.

Stay tuned for an interview with Bowen, coming next week, along with a review of her most recent collection of prose poetry, the shared properties of water and stars.

For now, enjoy, share, and comment on these poems. Let's talk.

-Stacia M. Fleegal
co-founder, managing editor, poetry co-editor


  1. I love how these pieces can be both quiet and intense at the same time, or alternately. Somehow these three prose poems are about the last three years of my life, in the order given.

    Oh, and I love this new format and approach for Blood Lotus. How refreshing to talk about the poems. Good work!

  2. Thanks so much! We're really excited about the evolution from journal to blog, and even more so to kick off this move with Kristy. We hope you keep coming back!

  3. I didn't think "codex" was in a doctor's office. I thought it was in the narrator's mind during everyday life. How her life had lost all order and devolved into something chaotic and senseless. She tried to hang onto how she thought things should be to keep some sanity, but things were never how she thought she should be. I love the unexpected twists in each poem. In "rigging" I thought she didn't actually want to kill the birds. She just told herself that was the plan to give herself an excuse to stay in the guest bedroom. Actually, she didn't plan to kill the birds or ever leave the bedroom. And I am afraid of the water and so many times, problems in life can feel like drowning (radio ocularea). What I like most about poetry is that it can mean so many different things to so many different people. I love these.

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