Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Katie Fowley, The Supposed Huntsman



In my house-like costume I inhabit space.

This is a grave business.
What is this grave business?

I came dressed as plumbing
and you came dressed as plumbing too.
Childhood is so intensely serious.

What are we doing
in our crinolines
in states of undress?

Paint the body
with symbolic patterns.

What is a symbolic pattern?
What color for mourning?
What color for moving on?

Red, black, pale yellow, red.

Twirling satisfaction, plumage, deviation –
Spin fast as your monster cage will allow.


Since discovering her work in an issue of FENCE [Vol. 18, No. 2 (summer 2017); see my review of such here], I’ve been eager to see further work by New York poet, teacher and translator Katie Fowley, something now possible with the publication of her full-length debut, The Supposed Huntsman (Brooklyn NY: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2021). The author of the chapbook DANCES & PARKS (DIEZ Press, 2015) [and a poem posted as part of the “Tuesday poem” series], Fowley’s poems are built via tone and effect, one that flows across language and thinking. Across her lyrics, one line and one thought follow immediate after another, often seeming to playfully riff off and across a sequence of ideas, sounds and suggestions. “I will taste my mouth.” she writes, to open the poem “AUSTERE.” “What’s austere? / A seer. / An oyster full of hairs.” Fowley’s poems articulate an uncertainty, an unsettling, and often engage an abstract that lean into the surreal, blended with a processional, composing poems with the speed of meditative thought. “Bark at my back. / A tree is a porous thing. / I keep expecting animals.” she writes, to open the poem “PARK.” The poems that make up The Supposed Huntsman are delightful, fast-moving and delightfully odd, working through childhood, medieval festivals, myths and folk tales and engaging with the natural world. “I am never more happy,” she writes, to end the poem “HAPPINESS,” than when I hear the waves rock. // The rock feeling its grain. // I am never more happy / than when the moon jars me. // My soft production / the fatal sun.”


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