This Earthly Body / Katie Ellen Bowers


This Earthly Body

poems by

Katie Ellen Bowers

ISBN: 978-1-59948-995-7, 94 pages, $15 (+ shipping)

Release/Ship Date: May 14, 2024

The Advance Sale Discount price on this title has expired. For those who prefer to pay by check, the price is $19/book (which includes shipping & sales tax) and should be sent to: Main Street Rag, 4416 Shea Lane, Charlotte, NC 28227. 

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Katie Ellen Bowers is a poet and educator. Originally from Charleston, SC, she has found a home in the small rural town of Heath Springs, SC, where she resides with her husband and daughter. She is a graduate of Winthrop University where she first discovered her love for poetry. Her poems have appeared in journals and magazines such as Qu Literary Magazine, Kakalak, and The Dewdrop, for which she was nominated for The Pushcart Prize.

Katie Ellen Bowers writes poems with dirt under her nails. The earthiness and authenticity of her words are almost fragrant with heat, salt, skin, leaves, and tangibility. Unflinchingly, Bowers guides us through womanhood, motherhood, and humanhood. Her poems are honest about the burdens of love and memory, about the simple blessings that bloom sacred throughout the quiet corners of our lives. She is one of my favorite voices in contemporary American poetry. ~Nicholas Trandahl, award-winning author of Mountain Song and All the Color, All the Wind


Katie Ellen Bowers’ poems arise first from the shame that women heap upon other women, from sins and imperfections both real and imagined, and finally from the passions of being a wife and mother. All along the way, Bower finds the elusive voice so often hidden within the body, knowing all along that Whitman was absolutely right when he said, “these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul.” ~Denton Loving, author of Crimes Against Birds & Tamp


From fig trees and fern-green to strawberry cakes and bathtubs, these poems ask the reader to reconsider what makes a space sacred. Can a woman ever truly feel safe in her own body? With needle-sharp attention to detail and lyric prowess, Bowers shows us poems that are shedding their skins, transforming, reaching up for the sun. We learn how beauty and decay can co-exist, how to make the body holy again. ~Megan Denton Ray


The poems in Katie Ellen Bowers’ debut collection, This Earthly Body, are both sensual and sensory with a raw honesty that never wavers. The earthly body is the poet’s own physical, emotional, and spiritual layers, as well as the fertile, living orb we inhabit. Bowers’ intimate connection with each renders this reader believing her observation in the title poem, “It is hard for me/ to imagine something better than my/ daughter resting her head in my lap/ as she reads me the story she has written,/ the crow’s feet in the corners of my/ husband’s eyes when he laughs, or the/ crisp sweetness of a good apple.”  ~ Kim Blum-Hyclak

Look and Listen


Look! Watch me dance
along the dandelions and milkweed.
Watch me lie in the grass!

The wind is picking up, the leaves are blowing off trees,
and the hurricane’s cool graying clouds
are pressing down upon my chest.

Granny will insist on baking a frozen apple pie, swearing to herself when Papa calls her to tell her about a man on John’s Island with a bed full of tomatoes even in this goddamn storm.

Everything is closed.
A storm is coming.
Mama sleeps until past noon,
and Daddy is somewhere in the northeast.

Listen! There are words in my belly
even then, even now, even then then then
for so long they went undigested and rotting

until I learned how to cut myself open,

learned to let the contents of my belly spill out
and onto the ground, undeniable and free.



Now That You Don’t Have to Be Perfect

a partial quotation from John Steinbeck’s East of Eden


In the old house you shared for years with your ex-fiancé in the bed you shared with many in-between

the air-conditioner didn’t stand a chance against the sticky May heat

I’d just given you a copy of East of Eden, fingers running along unread passages, an inscription brushing against the inner folds

your skin pressed to mine
sticking with sweat

you’d already written, days before, in your tiny scrawl,
in a battered notebook, that you thought it was too soon
to speak the words aloud and so

I didn’t respond
except my skin was already sticking to yours

when sad-green eyes met mine, inches above and sunken within

and you whispered words to me
before you could help yourself.



before my last new love(r)


the lover before my last
would feed me candies and
pull me to him at four in the morning
after hours of filthy words and silken
ties of tender and tough skin and all
we ever wanted to do was devour
each other—to skim cream off
the surface of our bodies, to pluck

fruit and bathe in its juice,
then another came and pressed his fingers
into my lungs to plant a primrose
against my skin, still sticky from sweat,
in a hushed voice, he whispers on
perennials, how they spring from
the soil year after year after, its
blooms begin to blossom outside
of my bones, pressing against each rib
and rooting me in place.

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