the fever almanac
Ghost Road Press, 2006
In Bowen's work, there is hazard to the homestead. Her poems reel you in with a southerner's hospitality, but as soon as you feel safe, the floorboards start caving in. Both devotional and dangerous, these poems are "prone to strange weather." In her book, occupied by "sadness and jazz in red dresses," an exacerbated beauty resides that is mesmerizing and relevatory. Bowen's poems are about what exists in the periphery. Beyond the lovely delicacy of stockings, rice paper, Shalimar, yellow dresses and tortoiseshell combs, there is famine and loss, desire and rot. When reading Bowen, one experiences an unraveling sensation that sidles into the nervous system, generating the shakes. As her wonderful title indicates, this work induces fever; yet, her poems don't stop at disease and dissappointment, they mark an argument through death, so that we may also experience release, sustenance, and restitution. Philomela's tongue has finally been returned. And I, for one, am gloriously satiated and illumined by having read this linguistically shimmering book. Bowen's poems are dark jars lit by phosphorescent moths.
Following Pound's adage, Kristy Bowen has cut the waste marble from the figures of these muscular lyric poems; what remains is sculptural, opaque, and suggestive as beach glass. Full of fever dreams and labyrinthine tattoos, these are poems that "taste like rainstorm/ all dampness and electricity" - poems powered by elusive images, rich diction, and terse musicality...