Odd list Odd house Odd me by Elisabeth Horan
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Publication date: June 21, 2019
In this beautiful homage to Emily Dickinson, Elisabeth Horan tackles many of the same themes Dickinson did — lust, hope, pain, loss, and death, to name a few. Horan welcomes the reader not just into her world, but also her mind and uses structure and punctuation to create order where there is chaos. “Odd list Odd house Odd me” is a powerful collection that pulls at the heart and mind as darkness and unabashed sensuality ensnare the senses, challenging boundaries and perceptions.
Here’s what others are saying:
“Elisabeth Horan’s poetry collection Odd list, odd house, odd me– Poems for Emily is the story of a New England poet who reached back across the years and found a connection with Emily Dickinson’s work, 250 years in the past.
Horan is a fan of Dickinson’s slant rhyme and adopts it to great effect, with her own contemporary twist, as in the poem I am a Simple Woman—. The language in the poems weaves deftly between the more formal register in which Dickinson wrote, and a modern collection of current words to describe situations which, in Dickinson’s time, were never spoken of even if known. Those unfamiliar with Dickinson’s distinctive style, including her pioneering use of dashes and capital letters in her writing, may fail to understand the depth of what Horan’s work is trying to do. This is not mimicry, or a mere homage to Dickinson; rather it is a conversation, a yearning, a recognition of connection. In the title poem, Horan writes:
Odd list odd house odd me—
Time navigates its ream of paper
My father sister brother neighbors
My quill my ache my captain
Horan sees clear echoes of Dickinson’s intensity and isolation in her own life and reaches out to Dickinson, saying ‘I see you’. There is a kindred spiritry here, a similarity of world view, an attention to detail.
Horan’s tales parallel Dickinson’s in many ways. She covers the intensity of familial relationships and of those friendships sustained by contact other than physical. In Your Letter has yet to arrive and I write you after Church one day she recognises Dickinson’s loneliness in herself and responds to it:
Frail days make terrible friends
For me – a woman with so few
Of them. I wish they would grow
This acute awareness of the cerebral nature of relationships, and Dickinson’s desire for intellectual contact with others despite her physical separation, shines through as Horan looks to Dickinson while dealing with issues such as depression, desire and hope.
What Horan has created here is quite unique. It almost feels like a series of intimate letters to Dickinson, reminding her that her struggles are universal and that she is far from alone in her feelings. With rich sensory detail and razor sharp technique, Horan finds a new way for readers to connect with Dickinson’s work, making her style accessible, relatable and fresh.”
Assistant Editor of Animal Heart Press
“These are not ‘after’ poems, but rather a one-way correspondence from a poet to a kindred soul. There are references to Emily Dickinson’s work, but nothing that tries to be Dickinson. These are utterly from Horan’s own voice and perspective, instead writing to Dickinson while giving subtle nods to her work—the pieces are full of lovely em dashes and the New England countryside.”
To read the review in full, visit This Week, I Read!
Author of the chapbook Possession and Writer of This Week, I Read
“Elisabeth Horan’s Odd List, Odd House, Odd Me is a splendid example of how to write a homage to a great writer, in this case, Emily Dickinson. Rather than working in the poet’s “common measure” hymnal form, and attempting to write mere stylistic knock-offs, Horan instead plays lightly with other devices commonly utilized by Dickinson. Such devices include Dickinson’s unorthodox use of the em-dash, her often surprising conversion of common- to proper nouns, and her terse turns of phrase. Yet, none of these devices are used in excess, leaving ample room for Horan to allow her own voice to shine through, as she takes on the great themes of Womanhood, Love, and Death. Stand out pieces include—but are certainly not limited to—“Blood on Snow,” “Barren—not of Words,” “At Night when I am alone,” “Not Sovereign,” and “At the grave of your death, I smile.” In these poems and many others, Horan takes a reader with her on a journey where she unflinchingly explores her own inner landscape, and alternately wrestles with feelings of intense wistfulness, ardor, and loss. In so doing, the ambivalence Horan confronts in these poems is more often than not left unresolved, as is the case not only with great poetry, but even more so, with life itself. With that in mind, this collection exemplifies how a contemporary poet can place one’s self under the tutelage of a canonized poet, and create a work of art that is rife with the spirit of a recognized great, yet simultaneously very unique, strangely beautiful, and wholly personal in nature. As such, I cannot recommend enough this fine collection of verse.”
Editor of Midnight Lane Boutique
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