Bowen’s Romantic Poetry Seduces and Enchants the Reader
Seas, gardens, stars and brilliant explosions of pain swirl about on a world constructed of paper. Ollie Bowen’s On the Occasion of a Wedding entices not only the mind and heart but the eye as well. The delicate illustrations which complement many of the pieces within are evidence that Bowen took a great deal of time to create a collection that is truly a work of art. A self described set of eclectic love poems, On the Occasion of a Wedding, contains mature, intensely well crafted pieces dedicated to that tantalizing, agonizing, wondrous subject – love.
There is an absolute garden “…sowed like wild darlings…” of poetry bursting out of these one hundred and four pages. The poem “The Veil of the Jellyfish” describes Bowen’s nature as a poet perfectly: “I am time-space filled with talents – / sentient, poisonous, luminous.” Her work is a dream many poets struggle to believe can come true. With gentle hammer taps her poetry of love strikes true again and again and again.
Bowen engages, seduces and flirts with her readers. She is unafraid to surf the waves of high romance where the “…body blooms as algae, / peacefully floating upon you as the foam,” and then joyfully tumble into the simple frivolity of being in the buff with a lover. Readers can feel the speaker’s impish smile in “From Your Nakedness, A Poem” as the speaker narrates, “You streak inside my mind, / …your taunting tight ass becomes this poem.” Where there is love there is bound to be silliness and Bowen’s interpretation of that is infectious.
There is only one piece that seems to be out of place in this poetic garden. The voice of “Is We Is, Or Is We Ain’t” is so harshly divergent from the rest of the work that it sticks out like a weed among roses. It is an unpleasantly jarring stop on the otherwise charming stroll through poems of such specifically curated variety.
Apart from waxing poetic on the joys of love, Bowen also exposes the bristle and smoulder of it as well. She describes that special kind of torment only those nearest and dearest can cause when she writes, “Right in my womb I feel it – / the terrible unbearable feeling / of malignant incompleteness / of unfathomable love. / How can I bear it.” The acute pain she is able to prick into her readers is testament to her skill as a poet.
Bowen’s poetry promises to haunt its readers as well as the poem “Quando” makes very clear. “When you foolishly forget me – / I will still sail and sleep / upon your name,” the speaker seems to whisper at below the readers’ earlobes, dispatching electricity which shocks each minute hair.
Published in 2019, On the Occasion of a Wedding was not only Bowen’s wedding gift to friends celebrating their nuptials but to the wider poetry world as well. Her elevation of language allows it to travel unencumbered into the minds and hearts of her readers. Bowen’s creation of a poetry collection dedicated solely to love and all the magnificent anguish it causes which avoids tripping into the category of melodramatic is impressive to say the least. One could even say that it is a triumph of modern poetry.
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