Ambiguous Parables explores those regions of experience we pass through, sometimes holding our breath or nervously whistling a merry tune, but more often caught up in inexplicable emotions we'd rather come to grips with than avoid. The loss of a loved one is a prime example, and one sequence of poems contains the poet's responses to his mother's death. At the other end of the spectrum are whimsical poems such as "The Man in the Hat," in which Bowman first recognizes and then embraces the fact that the dog barking at him repeatedly as he walks by recognizes him because of his hat. There are poems about care-giving, and one about a grandfather helping a grandson sort acorns.
Such experiences aren't novel, but Bowman has a knack for pausing at just the right moment to take a second look around. Some of the poems are delightful. Others elicit awe. Again and again, in deceptively simple phrases, he summons the frisson we feel when confronted with life's pain, while simultaneously being reminded of the gift we have been given—of life and presence. As poet Deborah Cooper describes the collection: "These are poems of wondering, brushing up against the edge of mystery, poems that reach toward acceptance of all we cannot grasp... And, even as they grapple with grief and disillusionment, these are poems of hope. The threads of tenderness and gratitude run through these pages, "holding the chaos gently."
Ted Bowman is a father, stepfather and grandfather. His family roots are in North Carolina. He has lived in Minnesota since 1973.
His work as a family and grief educator has occurred in Minnesota, many states, nine countries, including over twenty years of annual work in England, Scotland and Ireland beginning in 1996.
He is the author of more than 125 articles, chapters, booklets, and poems. His two booklets, Loss of Dreams: A Special Kind of Grief, published in 1994, and Finding Hope When Dreams Have Shattered, published in 2001, are widely used for grief and loss. Crossroads: Stories at the Intersections, a book of poems and essays was published in 2008. A co-edited (Elizabeth Bourque Johnson) volume of poetry, all by Minnesota poets addressing themes of loss and renewal, The Wind Blows, The Ice Breaks, was released in 2010. Ted was also co-editor of It Starts with Hope (with Betsy Brown) a volume of images and words for the 30th anniversary of The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) in 2016.
"Ambiguous Parables is powerful, poignant, whimsical, and healing. The chain of stories in verse is all about human connection, the profound pain felt when it's lost, and the added distress of ambiguity from the inevitable unanswered questions. Bowman teaches us not only about expressing grief, but about finding joy in life after loss." - Dr. Pauline Boss
"In this welcome gathering of lucid, moving works, Ted Bowman skillfully captures loss in his life alongside gains in wisdom, insight, and the capacity to appreciate the ways 'past and present overlap and collide.' In its essence, this deeply personal book attests to the power of bravely facing our ever-changing emotions and captures what resilience of the human spirit really looks like." - Geri Chavis, LP, PhD
"These are poems of wondering, brushing up against the edge of mystery, poems that reach toward acceptance of all we cannot grasp." - Deborah Cooper
"Rarely have I reached the end of a book and wished for more! Ted Bowman has managed to capture the essence of life and loss in this beautifully crafted volume. This is a book that invites us to read intuitively, opening ourselves to our deepest wonderings and feelings, reminding us of the painful, yet potentially transformative experiences of impermanence, loss, and grief." - Darcy Harris, Ph.D, FT