Where is a softness that doesn’t feel like a costume?
Does caring mean hoarding or dissemination?
Sugarblood is spilling over with contaminants, soft intrusions, illness, animal instinct, medicine, and vengeance. Liz Bowen asks what it means to care for one another when emotions involve labour, and how our desires are so readily surveilled, scrutinized, and gendered. The result is a thrilling challenge, a warm panic, and an opportunity for us to reconsider function, care, and intimacy. Cunning and sharp, these poems are armour against that which threatens us, and an emotionally resonant testament to all that which keeps us safe and contained in a dangerous world. In effect, Bowen gives form to the feeling of simply being too much.
Liz Bowen is a writer, scholar and editor living in New York City. She is a doctoral student in English and comparative literature at Columbia University, where she also teaches undergraduate writing. Her work focuses on 20th/21st-century American literature, disability studies, animal studies, post-humanism, and feminist and queer theory. Her poetry and essays have been published widely in literary magazines and anthologies. Sugarblood is her debut poetry collection.
First edition, first printing
Cover art | Rebecca Fin Simonetti
Cover design | Ashley Opheim
Author photo | Tramaine George
Editor | Ashley Opheim
“A kenning is a figurative expression of two subjects that gives special value to a common word. It is a way to see the word not through its economic function but through ecstatic vision. Such is the experience of reading Liz Bowen’s Sugarblood. Here, its kennings operate beyond disease and into (through) sexual frenzy.
In this collection, the body opens, dismantles, orgasms, and desiccates; the mind wants to get wet and fuck like the body and then it does because ‘it is my body and not / by extension.’ For Bowen to give language to humanity, she must also spell its animate failures. She remarks, ‘people are afraid of being animals / the distinguishable churn / of a body alive.’ The body is a literal frothing animal or it is a theory of the cyborg or it is the insulin pump falling out mid-run. ‘The blood is not a metaphor,’ Bowen tells us. ‘It is blood.’ Bowen teaches us the uses of metaphor in these poems to prove that she is happy to throw them away. In Sugarblood, we are made to see and it is ‘appallingly legible.’”
– Natalie Eilbert
#Indictus #SwanFeast #foundingeditor #TheAtlasReview
“In Sugarblood, Bowen details the various horrors of having a body, from the wet paradox of vaginismus to the unending chorus of catcalls to ‘the feeling of cover the oozing parts.’ The sick body is cyborg yet not cyborg enough; Bowen laments, ‘i can’t drag the file / ‘stranger’s unwelcome hand on my vulva.docx’ / to the trash.’ Intimate, raw, and important, these poems celebrate moments of respite from the horror.”
– Amy Berkowitz
#TenderPoints #timelessinfinitelight #editor #mondobummerbooks
“Liz Bowen’s poems invite you to catcall your PAP smears, catcall your closed mouth, revive ‘the deadly myth of a unified womanhood’ (while at the same time decapitating it). Here is the ancient tension between what’s revealed and what’s kept hidden, what is both spoken and hushed-up in the same moment. ‘Does caring mean hoarding / or dissemination?’ the female mind-body asks, because women are forever suspect. The female mind-body’s own processes are polyvalent, sick, subversive; they screw stuff up. Yet, as one of Bowen’s interlocutors states, ‘ . . . we are lucky / to be raw underneath.’ Here is the longed-for redemption: we live gracefully, we are scrubbed (just enough), we are healthy even as we are sick.”
– Sharon Mesmer
#poetry #essays #fiction #professor #nyu #newschool
“Liz Bowen’s Sugarblood is the brutal textures of the freak body / the animal body / the embarrassed body / the worded body / the sick body / the caring body sending its edges out in ferocity and in tenderness. How can something so mappable and present also feel so utterly unfathomable, so capable of suddenly turning into water / into trembling? How does it work? How does it love? ‘how do i face you / now that we’ve both / seen it,’ asks Bowen. In Sugarblood the physical pain of being a body trying to hold itself together with other bodies and monstrosity in the world is incredible and intimate.”
– Carrie Lorig
#poet #thepulpvsthethrone #thebookofrepulsivewomen
“We’re taught not to question the necessity of the cages where humans and other animals are ‘kept.’ Sugarblood unlatches these cages—including the cage of the body—and the wounded, screeching creatures that swarm out have become all the questions we were never meant to ask. ‘Where is the wrong place / of my own choosing.’ ‘Where is a softness / that doesn’t feel like a costume.’ ‘Do you think me / a bottle overturned.’ ‘How to lift density from my caging / but sleep in the marrow.’ Even: ‘How to ask a question.’ When we finally allow this book’s questions to flock together, they take the shape of a manifesto.”
– Carina del Valle Schorske
#poet #translator #essayist
Press + Reviews + Interviews + Excerpts
“Urgent and wild.”