Katie Bowler Young


The anthropologist wanted to share a family story
he wrote about potters in Chulucanas, in a valley in Peru,
two days away from home. I sent pocket money
to Juan Pablo, he says before I ask what it meant
to Juan Pablo’s father for his family to appear in a book
that was short-listed, won prizes. And what is it like
for the anthropologist to love another man’s son,

like a nephew, or a neighbor’s child, only to study him
too, and expose the family’s modest wealth from their workshop?
Now Juan Pablo is in college, in Lima, encouraged by a doctor

of philosophy. Cultural anthropology. We both study humans,
I say, but he waves his hand, shakes his head. Pours us more wine.
I’m drawn to decades-long research. His words: a gauntlet?

Why can’t I put on paper what I offer in gesture: a handshake,
hug, or kiss. When we touch, or if we touch, intentional or
accidental, then I know: love, acquaintance, stranger.

Katie Bowler Young

Katie is Senior Director of University Collaborations at RTI International, an independent nonprofit research institute dedicated to science that improves the human condition. Katie Bowler Young is the author of Enrique Alférez: Sculptor, a biography of the influential 20th century Mexican artist (The Historic New Orleans Collection, 2021); a poetry collection, Through Water with Ease (Louisiana Literature, 2019); and State Street (Bull City Press, 2009). Katie has published poetry and prose in Carolina Quarterly, LEON Literary Review, Meridian, The Midwest Quarterly, The Southern Review, and other publications. She earned her MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College.

  • Twilight Walks
  • Encounters