Friday, 12 February 2021

Just to the Right of the Stove by Elisabeth Horan

Just to the Right of the Stove by Elisabeth Horan
Published by Twist In Time today, the 12th February 2021.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Elisabeth Horan’s new collection Just to the Right of the Stove opens by the fridge, a cold beginning perhaps to counter the heated conversations that will unfold from our two protagonists, one already doomed and the other trying to decide. The first poem is voiced by both Sylvia Plath and our own Elisabeth, wondering if the only way to make it on the page is to step away from the flesh. Sylvia promises to help and so the timer is set and on we go...” 

– Damien Donnelly, Poet and Author

Just to the Right of the Stove is an evocatively mundane title for Elisabeth Horan's new poetry collection, conjuring up images of cosy kitchens and domestic bliss when the reality of life, as seen through Horan's poetry, is a series of very different scenarios. The poems are linked by an imagined conversation between Horan herself and the American poet with whom she particularly identifies, Sylvia Plath. Both women suffered intensely from postpartum depression and the ramifications of this for themselves and their families are the focus of Just to the Right of the Stove.

I felt I was not as familiar as I needed to be with Plath's work in order to fully appreciate Horan's overtly experimental poems. I've only read The Bell Jar once, several years ago, and don't recall ever having read her poetry. That said, I appreciated the more accessible works which allowed me disturbing insights into the poet's mind. To see how her self-perception is warped by this mental illness was unsettling to me as a reader, and I can't even begin to imagine how traumatic it must be to be locked into that reality, especially as Horan shows she is only too aware of her irrational behaviour, yet without the means to change it. Just To The Right Of The Stove vividly portrays her life, I thought, in a way that a factual essay could never do.

Thinking back over the emotions this collection provoked in me as I read, I feel that I also gained understanding through the inscrutable poems with which, at the time, I failed to connect. One poem, Keeping Tabs or Dabbing The Corners Of Our Mouths Like Ladies, for example, had me believing that I understood Horan's predicament and, arrogantly, even that I could empathise, but turning a page to then struggle with Not your type of alone, swirling away beyond my comprehension, demonstrated quite the opposite to be true. Just To The Right Of The Stove allowed me to see how much I cannot know.

Meet the Poet

Elisabeth Horan is an imperfect creature from Vermont advocating for animals, children and those suffering alone and in pain - especially those ostracized by disability and mental illness. 

She is Editor in Chief at Animal Heart Press, and Co-Editor at Ice Floe Press. She has several chaps and collections out this year including Bad Mommy / Stay Mommy at Fly on the Wall Press, Odd list Odd house Odd me at Twist It Press, Was It R*pe, from Rhythm and Bones Press, Self-Portrait, at Cephalo Press, and Just to the Right of the Stove, with Hedgehog Poetry Press. 
She is a poetry mentor to many up and coming brilliant poets, and proud momma to Peter and Thomas.

She recently earned her MA from SNHU, and her MFA from Lindenwood University. She is a 2018 Pushcart Nominee and a 2018 and 2019 Best of Net Nominee. 

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Elisabeth Horan / Poetry / Books from America

1 comment:

  1. I've been reading a lot of poetry books lately, but I don't think I've heard of this one. It's definitely a huge undertaking to try and use Sylvia Plath's work as an influence especially for readers who are not familiar with her work.