This week, I read Elisabeth Horan’s Odd list Odd house Odd me: Poems for Emily. 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.
In her acknowledgements, Horan says: “I live in the Northeast only a few hours from Emily’s home. I went there to study Emily. To feel her. To tap into the vein of yearn, odd, love, loss, self, wry, lush, dry, filled, empty, fertile, barren. Wanting. Regretting. Sex. God. Death.” This really describes this book in a nutshell.
The collection begins with pieces like “I am a Simple Woman,” which sets up that sense of kindredness with Dickinson. It reads: “I am a Simple Woman—/my pasty grey-dawn Smile/ I cannot leave my bedroom.” Emily Dickinson was notoriously reclusive. Instead of seeing people, she would send letters, slipped beneath her bedroom door. The piece blooms inward, saying, “In here – I am safety Goddess/of a night filled with golden ships;/ruby-red riches; slippery hips/I pine for; would die for.” There’s a sense of safety and comfort in this inner life—where one’s bed linens are seductive, but there’s also a sense of lush, colorful, richness that comes with being a creative person.
The collection begins, detailing the inner life of a poet, living quietly at home, taking stock of her own inner resources. However, the pieces hit a fevered pitch, with the speaker developing into a witchy sort of being, who speaks in lovely jeweled verse that would typically be found in something by the Grimms, in pieces such as “Odd Woman Barks,” and “Prosegasm.” Horan’s ability to craft pieces that are spell-binding and original is completely on-point. Odd list Odd house Odd me is forthcoming from Twist It Press in June 2019, and is currently available for preorder now.