In her gorgeous new collection, salvage, Kristy Bowen builds an associative world, where details intensify and dissipate like the sea. Haunted and mysterious, lush and encompassing, this word is wet—often submerged, scaled, salt-washed. The poems within it bob and sink as they explore love and disconnection, “the riptide / pull of strange, lonely dogs and broken phone lines.”
Salvage—meaning to save and rescue, meaning to recoup and reclaim, but also the ship and lost cargo, the payment made to a person who has done the saving. Such two-sided meaning swims through the Kristy Bowen’s salvage, a book that warns of lakes where, "It is foolish to love that which has freed you. Or that which you save." Near such waters mermaids hunger for pretzel rolls and claw-footed tubs, ghosts thirst for trapdoors and dimestores, and houses make for broken promises and kisses in our palest places. We’re assured, "It will be comfortable, but a midwestern sort of comfortable, subject to wind and weather at all times." This is a wild, mercurial place where antelope eat abacus trees, voices build structures from plastic spoons, and birds nest inside the body’s box, a place of touch and comfort, love and strangeness, where what we salvage salvages us in this bright new collection.
—Laura Madeline Wiseman
With her knack for marrying the disparate with the savvy, the corporeal with the fragile, Bowen breathes life into creatures both familiar and fantasmic. These poems are drenched with imagery so vivid that they seem to breathe and ache, and the menagerie so real that I half-expected to find fur stuck to every page. From dimestores to rabbits and clavicles to goldfish, in salvage Kristy Bowen has exquisitely crafted story-poems that invite the reader to linger on every delicious syllable.
A writer and visual artist, Kristy Bowen is the author of several book, chapbook and zine projects, including major characters in minor films (Sundress Publications, 2015), the shared properties of water and stars (Noctuary Press, 2013), and girl show (Black Lawrence Press, 2014). She lives in Chicago, where she runs dancing girl press & studio and spends much of her time writing, making papery things, and curating a chapbook series devoted to women authors.