by Katie Bowler
In State Street, Katie Bowler’s long poem about post-Katrina New Orleans, a salvage attempt comes to represent hope for a ruined city, and for a young woman’s future.
“State Street is a remarkable act of salvage. Katie Bowler’s driven, encompassing narrative careens with dark humor, anger, grief, and grit through the surreal Katrina landscape. She’s both in its midst—a human eye of the storm—and at ‘a great distance,’ seeing with compassion and shrewd clarity. The reader senses Bowler’s faith in her course throughout—that out of the chaos and detritus and loss, bolstered by the conjured presences of friends and family, she can make meaning. Art is what’s rescued; art becomes the rescuer. Bowler’s ‘small survival’ is an impressive achievement.” —Debra Allbery
“A house with a tricycle perched on its roof. A man whose life’s work lies stuffed into garbage bags. ‘In the middle of this little hell,’ Katie Bowler tells us, ‘I find a photo of a banjo.’ These are the rare, unbroken things suddenly turned to relics, haunting proof that New Orleans remains a living city. State Street is a poem of beautiful rage and sorrow; it is also in its very making a poem of defiant hope.” —Maurice Manning
More press for State Street:
“The tone is jazzy, no straightforward, sing-along melody here, but riffs, fragments and tonalities. The poem makes demands of the reader and depends upon you to make connections. This approach was a risk worth taking, and I think it works.” — Greensboro News & Record