Only 5 left in stock

ISBN: 978-1-62557-813-6
Categories Poetry

sex & violence

Publication Date: April 2020


Kristy Bowen is a master of conjuring the treacheries of femininity. In sex & violence, she draws upon such diverse sources as Plath’s Ariel poems (here collaged piece by piece to make her own poems so much stranger, and newer, and hauntingly “eerie,” as in the absence of the missing, familiar words, and the missing, familiar woman) and, to conjure the contrary, poems set to dumb blonde jokes, where the result of two blondes “fall(ing) down a hole” is that “the wishbone of their throats harbor tiny fish and assorted birdery” and that, after murder, their bodies can be found “placed so careful in their beds each morning.” Here is a book to beware of, dear reader. You’ll find yourself trapped inside Bowen’s “enormous wedding cake—a claustrophobic swirl of sugar and lace,” with “Horses and house fires” placed right next to it, and in its feverish dream of kisses and ruin, you won’t want to ever escape.

—Gillian Cummings

Bowen is a poet on fire the way that Dali’s giraffes are on fire, the way our overheated Earth is on fire, the way Sylvia Plath was on fire the year before her suicide. Her poems happen in a time when “men continue to do terrible things to women,” and yet women are poets with magical and persistent powers. “[E]ach night I am remaking something with the thrum of a hundred thousand wings,” she writes. “I am waiting with a screwdriver behind the wardrobe’s mirrored doors…waiting for the bite.” Her blondes turn their dumbness into blunt instruments. Her dead girls pen letters to their murderers: “You know us writers, turning everything to grist…” This is a not-to-miss book, even for the jaded. In a time when “everyone [is] drinking tea and going on and on about art,” Bowen wrestles her tight-edged poems into new startle.

—Devon Balwit

Kristy Bowen’s sex & violence with its attention-getting title delves through body, self, woman, with knife-sharp darkly humorous phrasing and opulent imagery that has become her trademark. Bowen uses a palette of ekphrasis (Salvador Dali’s “Inventions of the Monsters”), allusion to pop tropes and slasher movies, and anaphora (a blonde …) to deliver her inimitable and startling exposition of love against its backdrop of brutality. She repeats haunting lines: /I love it like history/, populates her poems with magical images in ironic settings: little blue dog, honey drudgers, a huge camellia. Bowen presents a dichotomy that balances the lustful body and its corporeal yearning with the ethereal, spiritual agape love. /How I would like to believe in tenderness/. Then: /I do not know how to write about love without a little bit of pain/ she says in “how to write a love poem in a time of war.” Bowen’s latest book of poetry etches itself in the reader at a cellular level.

—Cathryn Shea

About the Author

Kristy Bowen

A writer and book artist working in both text and image,  Kristy Bowen is the author of  a number of chapbook, zine, and artists book projects, as well as several full-length collections of poetry/prose/hybrid work, including the recent salvage  (Black Lawrence Press, 2016), major characters in minor films (Sundress Publications, 2015) and girl show (Black Lawrence, 2014).  She lives in Chicago, where she runs dancing girl press & studio.

Visit Author Page