If God is the Door She is the Star: A Lisa Flowers Profile by Charlotte Annie

Meeting Lisa Flowers is like spotting a single red-winged blackbird, or watching salt gather on the banks of the Mississippi. When I first met her, I imagined we were standing on the edge of a cast iron balcony in Patras. Her voice was soft and familiar sounding, like the sound of Ella Fitzgerald. It didn’t take long to realize we were a lot alike. I pictured her writing poems on St. Peter’s Street in Vieux Carré. It was the closest thing I could think of to the Mediterranean foothills where I first pictured her. Besides, Lisa is an old soul—intimate and timeless, like an ancient city. The French Quarter suits her, but Voo cah-RAY sounds better. It’s more fitting; it captures the image of a woman on the balcony of a collapsing building—a woman reminiscent of good jazz.

As a poet and critic, Lisa has done many things. She has been both editor and curator. Her work has appeared in The Collagist, Entropy, Tarpaulin Sky, and The Cortland Review, as well as various other journals and magazines. She is also the poetry curator for Luna Luna Magazine and the founding editor of Vulgar Marsala Press. Her reviews have appeared in several journals, and include a review of CA Conrad’s A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon, as well as Kim Vodicka’s Aesthesia Balderdash and Kim Hyesoon’s All the Garbage of the World, Unite!

Her book diatomhero, published in 2012, is a surrealist study of reincarnation. Like most of her work, it is a hybrid text—a mixture of myth and religion, which on the surface appears fragmented. This is exactly the point. The work is complex and sophisticated. It is unsettling. Images of heaven and hell intersect; like the work of Hieronymus Bosch, it questions the polarity of good and evil. We live in death. Life is merely an exoskeleton. If we are the crab, so too we are the shell. Metaphors blend. Narratives rupture. Like a porcelain doll—broken and put back together, the work requires a second glance. If read carefully, it will question the actuality of both the author, as well as the reader—it will haunt them both, as if the work itself was written posthumously.

Esperanza Spalding “invents” space with music; Lisa Flowers (re)invents divination with poetry. Her work is ceremonial, evoking an internal “pull,” similar to that of being drawn to a card. The pull is suggestive. It is allegorical—indicative of the ancient medical procedure known as, bloodletting. And while the concepts appear juxtaposed, pulling, like letting, is emblematic of tension: one draws, the other releases. This simultaneous push-pull is precisely what drew me to her work. It is what drew me to The Star.

Lisa’s re-telling of John’s “I am” pushed open the gate to the balcony in Patras for which she first appeared. Her pulling of The Star delivered the coup de grâc. And just like that, we were survivors of the same disease. We were united, like blood brothers—only we were women, unearthed in shades of red. COME. Watch Lisa read. Listen to the sound of her voice. Like Ella Fitzgerald, she will evoke sunbeams. Humble. Quite. Thoughtful. Emphatic. A blackbird flying unaccompanied, she will disarm you. Lisa Powers: First Lady of Song. Come: Follow The Star.

 Lisa’s work will be featured at this month’s Boulding Poets event held at Trident Café on Saturday, September 20th at 8:00pm, and again at Innisfree Poetry Bookstore and Café (alongside myself) Thursday, September 25th at 7:00pm.

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