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.
“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 Sugarblood, we are made to see and it is ‘appallingly legible.'”
- Natalie Eilbert, author of Indictus and Swan Feast
“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. Here is the longed-for redemption: we live gracefully, we are scrubbed (just enough), we are healthy even as we are sick.”
- Sharon Mesmer, author of Annoying Diabetic Bitch
“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. 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, author of The Book of Repulsive Women
“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. When we finally allow this book’s questions to flock together, they take the shape of a manifesto.”
- Carina del Valle Schorske, essayist