girl show

Black Lawrence Press, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-937854-93-5
signed copies available

Kristy Bowen’s poems unfold like a fairy tale pop-up book; open like a cabinet of wonders in which girl is both cabinet and wonder; flame and spark into the night air where we read by that light. In a collection so rich in image— milk and angels and vinegar, the trap door and the hemline, bees and a line of low clouds—I’m struck even more by those seemingly small words of relationship—the prepositions—behind, against, inside, beneath beneath beneath. These poems arise from the “rubied dark” where the Louises and Livvies and Coras live, frightened and yet defiant, and return there, with us in tow.

—Mary Ann Samyn

The poems in Kristy Bowen’s brilliantly musical Girl Show capture the details of domestic life gone delicately, mysteriously wrong: “My salt shakers shaped like ducks. My ducks shaped like / killers.” In this map of bruised doors and broken windows, house after house reveals burnt staircases and ghostly inhabitants. The girls displayed in these illuminated rooms “speak softly while night … knocks us out, / knocks us up.” These gorgeous lyrics document dangerous histories, the marginalia that matters most. Bowen’s dreamy, eerie poems create a subversively gothic landscape: “mile after mile of busted / lunchboxes glinting in the sun.”

—Carol Guess 

other poems online from this collection:


Separated into three sections, Bowen’s poems are whimsical with a dash of darkness, conjuring images of blue tulle, a woman inside a wooden horse, hearts made of envelopes, and carnival curiosities. 

girl show by Kristy Bowen lifts the tent flap after the barker and the revival preacher have left. These poems are the ghost tales of small Midwestern towns, the stories of girls who hid under the porch or behind the curtain, stories of fires, floods, dreams and fingers that always search for secret spaces.