About Jennifer A. McGowan
Jennifer A. McGowan was born in the US and raised predominantly in New England. She graduated from an Ivy League university with honours, and from the University of Wales for her M.A. and Ph.D. Despite being certified as disabled at age 16 with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, she went on to become a semi-professional mime and performed in five countries. She has published poetry and prose in various magazines and anthologies, and has both written and recorded songs on several (small, but perfectly formed) labels. She loves teaching and has taught both under- and postgraduates at several universities. Having been resident in the UK since 1992, she recently naturalised.
Jennifer's poetry ranges from the personal to the mythological, but always remains accessible. Here are what people are saying about her:
Jennifer A. McGowan's engaging animated readings are a joy to hear. There is something very relaxing about hearing poetry from a poet who 'performs'. She ended the first half of the programme with strident, humorous and accessible material that set us laughing and wanting more. But Jennifer interleaves her pieces with deep and thought-provoking work, too: a dedication to a local poet who believes 'nothing ever happens in Horspath' ends with "Night washes in./Poetry wails around the eaves, seeking entry."
Neil Anderson wrote:
Jennifer A. McGowan's voice filled the gallery, urging us to consider Lot's wife musing on reincarnation, and the joys of wearing odd socks. 'Commute to Kutná Hora' compared the aristocratic travellers of the past with today's tourists. 'Now in this summer swelter/our skins exude/a slime of sweat', concluding, 'The doyennes, long gone, frown/seeing us for what we are/universally second class',
From Kevin Crossley-Holland:
Bright-eyed and unblinking, Jennifer A. McGowan engages with stories, events and situations that embody lasting truths about human passion and illusion, suffering and endurance - the adventures of Odysseus, the appalling English witch-hunts, the condition of loneliness. At the heart of this shapely, significant chapbook is the tension between the divine spark and complete and utter earthiness. In one of several memorable dramatic monologues, the concubine of a divine, but pimply, dead pharaoh stares at his 'solar barque' and
...can't help wondering
if when they weigh my soul
he'll be clear-skinned and waiting,
and if he still snores.
The female viewpoint; gritty thought; wit; striking candour - an unafraid recognition of life's richness and desolation; memorable detail; all these are underpinned by Jennifer A. McGowan's graceful, subtle, quite lovely way with language.
From Gray Jacobik:
The bite is here, the sass, the taut lines raptly tangled in their music, the slightly arch yet scampering voice caught between rage and ecstasy: so I name Jennifer A. McGowan a true descendent of the tribe of Plath. Well, Plathish--for these lyrics, dramatic monologues and fairytales are bedecked with wit, irony, bittersweet folly and dictional-shifts jazzy enough to make a reader dance--these last all McGowan's own.
From Claribel Alegría:
I love Jennifer A. McGowan's new poems. Nostalgia runs through them, a profound nostalgia that has marked her for ever.
It also has marked us, her readers. It makes us think about the inevitability of life.
She is precise, observant and steeped in mythology. She herself is a living myth.
Kevin Crossley-Holland is the author of The Norse Myths, the Arthur trilogy and The Mountains of Norfolk: New and Selected Poems (2011)
Gray Jacobik is the author of Little Boy Blue, Brave Disguises, and The Surface of Last Scattering
Claribel Alegría is the author of Sorrow, Luisa in Realityland, and Ashes of Izalco, and remains one of Central America's finest and most important writers.