Anna Bozena Bowen is a poet, writer, holistic nurse and intuitive. She was the first American-born child to her Polish immigrant parents and was raised in a Polish community in Holyoke MA.. Bowen’s holistic approach to life and connection to spirit is evidenced in HATTIE, her debut novel. “HATTIE has been with me for years,” says Bowen, “and in a way is a testament to the multidimensional aspects of our human and spiritual lives; it is about being a woman, it is about being human in a sometimes inhuman world, it is about the in-between and beyond, it is about soul and spirit, and so much more.”
Her twenty-five years in nursing, mostly in the critical-care and mental-health areas, her personal healing journey, and Bowen’s work with adult survivors of childhood sexual and ritual abuse “privileged me to hear many stories. I witnessed the resilience of spirit and the freeing of one’s soul that occurs with finding one’s voice,” she says. Bowen was a contributing author to Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Other Abusive Relationships (2006). She is a member of the International Women’s’ Writing Guild (IWWG) and the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA). She is also a SoulCollage® facilitator and finds this creative expressive process and journaling valuable tools for one’s life journey.
In the late 1980s, while in her mid-thirties, Bowen reached a turning point. “As much as I loved being a nurse, I felt something was missing in my life. So I decided to start with one summer course—The Short Story—at Holyoke Community College. There I fell in love with writing, poetry, and literature, and it was then that I began writing HATTIE.” Bowen graduated from HCC and went on to UMass Amherst, where she received a BA in English and in Women’s Studies. In 1990 Bowen was one of ten recipients of the USA Today Distinguished Student Scholar Award, and was featured in “15 Exceptional Women” in Your Family magazine. She also had the privilege of reading her poetry alongside Pulitzer Prize winning poet Maxine Kumin.
Among other enjoyments, Anna finds pleasure in cooking, food and wine experiences, sharing meaningful conversation, helping others in their life journeys, journaling, collaging, and traveling to Maui, Kauai, and Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley where she feels she is connected to the land and the people. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband Doug. They have two grown children Michael and Mary.
“I believe that creative expression comes from the soul and that soul work is important to our life here on earth and to our spiritual journey,” says Bowen.
How I came to write HATTIE
Twenty five years ago was a profound, challenging, and, as I refer to it, a “life saving” time in my life. Along with being a wife, mother to two young children, taking care of our home, working as a critical care nurse, and going back to school, I was journeying through a process of healing. One evening, as I sat on the step in the garage – I would go to this spot to have some quiet time, to write, to create art, and to smoke cigarettes – I met Hattie. As I was writing in my journal, I sensed the voice of a woman connecting to me. These were some of the first words she shared, “It’s funny how the world can be as small as the flesh around you or as large as the winds your voice travels upon.”
And so Hattie began telling her stories, which continued to be revealed through the weeks, months, and years that passed. As a woman, a survivor, and a writer, I became a witness to the truths of her life. As her final stories unfolded I thought about how others could benefit from them – from the gathering and sorting of her experiences, from her complexities, from her wisdom, from her pain, from the psychology of a woman who experienced great losses in life, from the understanding about self that she gained through exploring her human life from a soul and spirit perspective – even if breaking her silence came after she died.
This sharing and writing experience between Anna and the Hattie became a collaborative process which inspired and resulted in HATTIE a literary novel, which reads like a memoir.