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 poet, critic, and freelance editor living in New York. She is the author of the poetry collections Sugarblood (Metatron 2017) and Compassion Fountain (Trembling Pillow Press 2021), as well as two chapbooks. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at The Hastings Center, where she works at the intersections of disability studies, the environmental humanities, and bioethics. She earned her Ph.D. in English and comparative literature from Columbia University, with a dissertation that explored disability and animality as intertwined sites of literary experimentation in 20th and 21st century American literature. Liz is the Disability section editor at Public Books and senior poetry editor at Peach Mag. Her writing can be found in Scientific American, The New Inquiry, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Post45, Lit Hub, and elsewhere.
“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