“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
Elisabeth Horan is a USA poet with an international audience and is known for her raw, hard-hitting poetry, with experimental play throughout her style and structures. This will be Elisabeth’s 6th poetry book, and what can you expect from it? Let’s see what readers are saying…
A vision of a lady entering a kitchen to utilize an untaught skill mixes with lines that have more than one interpretation. And, I sense that there is much left undone for Horan, as I turn the pages of Just to the Right of the Stove.
Horan wishes Plath to teach her what it means to be an artist, to have a voice not just upon the page but all around. She questions Plath if she has to die in order to become famous, to be heard. It is an interesting aspect to read, one poet seeking advice and guidance from another. The two share certain similarities such as their constant battle with depression. Plath’s fate is unfortunately already sealed while Horan still has the chance to decide which path she will take.
Nice to meet you. I’ve always dreamt of this. Talking with your ghost. I won’t hurt you if you don’t Destroy my manuscript – Blind me with your razored eyes; Burn it all to ash, enraged at my try. Tell me it’s bullshit – amateurly stylistic.
For it is of you. I am of you. Not you. But of your pain.
Don’t speak to me like that, small thing. I am nothing to you, not yet. Your mind, shelless: a casing, spent On strife and fret – Your husband, good, honest, well-kempt. What do you need which has not been given To you yet?
A voice – one which will sell millions. Do I have to do it your way – must I go… away, to be famous?
No, don’t assume you are so special, like me. My brain, the chasm which wakes the sea tremor – I am the dark demon oil aquifer, you are But a fable of difficulty, to crush and sweep under the rug – That does not lend itself to one’s procurement In the feminist canon – I’m very sorry to break this to you.
But, don’t despair. How about I help you out just a little.
Today I am reviewing Pigskin (Published February 26th 2021) By David Hartley. Happy Publication Day! A big thank you to the publishers Fly on the Wall Press for my copy to review, always appreciated.
This short story is a part of The Fly on the Wall shorts season. Every two months for a year starting from February 26th 2021 they are publishing a short story with a social message to be found in each one. Find out more details here.
Something strange is happening to the animals on the farm.
A pig becomes bacon, chickens grow breadcrumbs, a cow turns to leather, a goat excretes cheese. As food becomes scarce and the looming ‘pot-bellies’ threaten to invade the safety of the sty, Pig knows he must get to the bottom of this strange phenomenon or face imminent death. Reminiscent of Animal…
Today dear readers I am reviewing Just to the Right of the Stove (Published February 12th 2021 by TwistIT Press) By Elisabeth Horan. A big thank you to Fly On The Wall Press who kindly sent a copy for me to review, always appreciated.
Just to the Right of the Stove
“Sylvia Plath – an iconic female figure in literary lore – endured a tragic existence, which sadly ended at the age of just thirty, in 1963. Clinically depressed for most of her adult life, she suffered from insomnia, domestic abuse, and several suicidal episodes. Plath was a mother in turmoil, a tortured soul battling her beast of burden. She ended her days by putting her head in the oven and turning up the gas. A bright star snuffed out when there was so much more left to shine. The fact that she…
Summary: what weeds teach us about the human condition
I don’t read as much poetry as I used to, but I loved this book.
As its title suggests it takes its starting point from things we may often overlook or take for granted, but in these things Amy Charlotte Kean finds insights to the human condition, and indeed the universe, that “glitter like C-beams in the dark”.
Reflecting on the White Deadnettle, for example, Kean observes, “They/ sting/ because/ like an evil stepmother/ they flourish/ thru the elaborate dismantling of/ innocence.” Or her ruminations on life prompted by the Stag’s Horn Sumach: “The secret is to worship the poets/ Quote the philosophers, thank the men/ And don’t dare, even once, act normal.”
The book is beautifully illustrated by Jack Wallington, but it is Kean’s poetry that unsettles and stirs the soul.
Poetry and photography offering uplifting vignettes of anxiety, division, rebellion and cats! Grae describes his poetic style as ‘beat poems & anxious gasps’, bringing lyricism to the revolution.
About the author
Grae J. Wall is a poet, lomographer and songwriter from St Albans, UK. As a regular performer at venues and festivals, both at home and around continental Europe, his work is often inspired by those travels along with global issues, anxiety, red wine and cats. Grae had a childhood inspired by Bowie and Lou Reed, followed by Patti Smith, Richard Hell and Leonard Cohen, whilst reading the beats and Rimbaud. As a musician, Grae was always writing poetry, mixing them in with more regular lyrics. Then, during the noughties, Grae published his poetry in a DIY style, publishing poetry in zines and producing a tiny booklet of poems to sell at gigs. He set up a virtual cafe space where himself and a developing community of ‘outsider’ poets could share their work. Now, at the age of 56, Grae has performed at his first poetry slam and there is no going back!
I kinda miss those days
Paris discotheques and cigarettes
Twelve-inch coloured vinyl fix
Just riding the crest of a brave new wave
Suburban cavaliers on a mission
To shock and thrill in equal measure
A belted army raincoat with a slouch hat
Gentlemen’s Polaroids and Kool menthol
Dogs on street corners slick and sly
Whistling through the graveyard
On a hot summer night
All doo-wop highs and cheap perfume
A manifesto hewn from hours
Of pouring over insert words
Rebellion brewing in garden cities”
“Be prepared dear reader to experience some beat, lyricism and working class revolution poetry. This is a collection like no other that I have read recently and in these dire times, it is a much needed breath of fresh air.
The use of repetition with certain lines in Grae’s poetry works effectively and strengthens his focus. You can almost feel the vibrations of the drums, the stamping of feet to a new beat. It makes you want to jump off the sofa and join the march, fist punching high and proudly in the air. “
I love Graeme Hall’s writing for his vivid characters and his subtle motifs. The worlds he weaves are immersive and transport a reader into escapism. Therefore, I was excited to hear about his latest release, which will be his debut novel, ‘On Borrowed Time’.
On Borrowed Time is set in Hong Kong and Shanghai over the period 1996/1997 – including the handover of Hong Kong to China. The novel explores the choices that people have to make; in particular between doing what is easy and what is right. Pre-orders for January 11th 2021 can be found here for Kindle. Today we are revealing the gorgeous front cover and giving you a preview of what it is inside!
More About The Book:
In Hong Kong, Emma Janssen discovers the truth behind the death of her brother four years earlier. Meanwhile, in Shanghai, a PhD student meets a woman with an unusual degree of interest in his research. These storylines converge at the time of the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, and Emma finds that she has to choose between revenge or the future happiness and safety of both herself and those close to her.
While being a work of fiction, On Borrowed Time is rooted in the author’s own experiences of living and working in Hong Kong from 1993 to 2010, in particular the final years of British rule and the transfer of sovereignty back to China.
About the author
Graeme lived in Hong Kong from 1993 to 2010 and still keeps a close connection to the city. His first novel was set in Hong Kong and Shanghai over the period 1996/97 and most of his writing comes from his love of that part of the world. Graeme first visited Macau in 1993 and he quickly became fascinated by the oldest European settlement in Asia. His short story collection, ‘The Goddess of Macau’ was published in August 2020 by Fly on the Wall Press.
He has won the short story competitions of the Macau Literary Festival and the Ilkley Literature Festival, and his writing has been published in anthologies by Black Pear Press and the Macau Literary Festival.He is an active member of the Leeds Writers Circle whose members have been a constant source of advice, support and encouragement. Graeme lives in Calderdale, West Yorkshire with his wife and a wooden dog.
‘How are you finding it here? In China?’ Susan asked a few days after Christmas. They were sitting on a bench by the athletics track, taking a break after a morning run; a common interest, they’d discovered. Kwok-wah and Susan were spending an increasing amount of time together. Kwok-wah wasn’t sure what the definition of a date was, and whether they had been on a date or not, but they had explored some of the bars and cheaper restaurants they could afford on their monthly allowances.
The day was cool, if not as cold as it recently had been; overcast and the air damp and heavy. Susan took a swig from the water bottle she was carrying and offered it to Kwok-wah.
‘Is it what you expected?’ she continued. ‘Compared with Hong Kong.’
‘I don’t know. I don’t know that I’d given it any thought. I don’t know what I expected. What do you make of the place? I mean it must be even stranger for you than it is for me. You know … coming from the States.’
Susan laughed. ‘Oh my God, you’ve no idea how weird China is to an American – even when you’re Chinese. It freaks me out sometimes. I mean, I’ve done a bit of travelling around Southeast Asia but China is still something else.’
‘What do you miss most about home?’
‘Pretty much everything! The food for a start. I’d kill for a plate of pancakes with maple syrup. Or just hanging round the mall with my friends. Driving along the Pacific Highway in a convertible with the top down. The weather. Especially the weather … or, to be more precise, the air. I mean’ – Susan was getting into her stride – ‘when did we last see the sun? It’s just day after day of this horrible grey smog. Except when it’s raining, of course. Then it’s just wet.’
‘And yet you’re here?’
‘And yet I’m here.’ Susan smiled. ‘Well it’s not all bad, of course, and like I said it’s got to be good experience for my career. But we weren’t talking about me. What about you? What would you be doing now if you were in Hong Kong?’
‘Much the same as here mostly. I’d play basketball. Chat with friends. Go see movies. Mostly though I’d be doing something on the computer. Playing games, writing programs. That sort of thing. Go to the Golden Shopping Arcade.’
‘I didn’t have you down as a shopping addict.’
‘It’s not a regular mall. It’s a place devoted to computers and so on, there are loads of little shops selling all the latest stuff.’
‘Ah … I see. You’re passionate about your subject, aren’t you? I like that. I don’t think I am. For me it’s just a way to a job, but I really like the way you’re so into it. I really do. It’s cool.’
‘Cool? People normally call me a geek, but I just want to do my research.’
‘And is it going well?’
‘It’s okay, I guess.’ Kwok-wah hesitated before going further. If he was honest with himself, he had been feeling a little dissatisfied with things for a while, but he wasn’t sure he could identify exactly what was wrong. He was making progress with the research, considering it was early days, but he was largely ignored by the rest of the department and felt rather isolated.
‘You sound unsure?’
‘Perhaps I expected too much.’
‘In what way?’
‘I don’t know … I think I expected to spend more time with Professor Ye. After all, he was the reason I came here in the first place.’
‘Isn’t he very helpful?’
‘Oh, he’s great,’ said Kwok-wah, backtracking, anxious not to bad-mouth his professor. ‘I just wish he was around more often. He’s often away or in meetings. He has a lot of visitors, which means his door is often shut all afternoon. It can be hard to pin him down and get him to spend some time with me. But then, like I say, perhaps that’s just me expecting too much from him. After all, I’m just a lowly PhD student, not some general or whatever.’
If you have enjoyed this extract, let us know in the comments! Make a note of Graeme Hall’s January release for ‘On Borrowed Time’…
On ‘The Goddess of Macau’:
“There is a subtlety to Graeme’s writing, which is characterised by a sensitivity to the nuances of character and setting. His stories unfold in a lyrical, understated style – a literary equivalent of pointillism.”
– Dr Rachel Connor, novelist, dramatist and Lecturer, Leeds Beckett University
For a little bit of sun this Friday, some spoken word from my pamphlet ‘Growing Pains’, transporting us to a little town in Italy.
In ‘Growing Pains’ Isabelle Kenyon navigates the grey space between child and adult. From the playground wars with worms, to the value of a woman’s body as she learns to take up her own space, this collection values kindness in what appears to be an increasingly cruel society.
‘Spartan of both language and spirit, Isabelle Kenyon’s uncompromising ’Growing Pains’ sifts and measures the weight of the human soul. In this unflinching and incisive commute from schoolyard savagery through toxic masculinity and calculating a woman’s worth, to grief and dislocation, Kenyon divines humanity’s salvation in passing acts of kindness.’
Anne Casey, Poet and Writer
(Salmon Poetry, The Times)
‘Growing Pains’ is £6 from Indigo Dreams Publishing
Released October 9th 2020 It’s been a delight to be immersed in 1692 Salem this week, celebrating the historical poetry collection, Confess: The Untold Story of Dorothy Good. On my stop on the tour (you can follow the rest of the tour using the twitter handles above), I wanted to share an excerpt from the collection. In the next few weeks on this blog, you will find a review by Ben Cassidy, who writes wonderful reviews, so do keep your eyes out ! In the meantime, let me share with you my micro review of this gorgeous historical collection.
Here is the book information first…
Blurb ‘1692 Salem, Massachusetts – Based on the life of Dorothy Good, the youngest person accused of and imprisoned for witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials, Confess tells the story of the trauma surrounding this nearly forgotten child from one of the darkest chapters in early American history. A colony is plunged into turmoil filled with misunderstandings, fear, intolerance, religious fervor, and an egregious abuse of power. Over the course of the year, more than two hundred people are accused of witchcraft and thirty are found guilty. Nineteen will be sentenced to death. Four-year-old Dorothy and her mother, Sarah Good, are arrested for witchcraft.Dorothy will confess.Sarah will hang.This is Dorothy’s story…’
Juliette van der Molen Bio Juliette van der Molen is an ex-pat poet living in Wales. She is an intersectional feminist and member of the LGBTQ+ community. Her work has appeared in The Wellington Street Review, Nightingale & Sparrow, Burning House Press and several other publications. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of The Net. Juliette is also the Poetry Editor for Mookychick Magazine. She is a spoken word performer and has had the honour of appearing in several venues in the United States and the United Kingdom. Her books include: Death Library: The Exquisite Corpse Collection, Mother May I? and Anatomy of A Dress. You can connect with her via Twitter @j_vandermolen and her website http://www.JulietteWrites.com. Buy the book from Twist It Press here
i am untold
i am undone
i am all the ‘un’ things
until i am no one.
ink limbs splashed
in evensong sky
a map of my
inner terrain where
no birds fly.
i might have been
i might have been
instead of this
knobby at the joint
lifting threadbare hems—
called to serve
the ever maddening crowd.
i am unloved
i am undone
i am all the ‘un’ things
until i am no one.
my witches mark
and the story mother
told me becomes a means
to her end.
glowering eyes comb skin,
a tight line
ready to pronounce all sins.
i might have been
i might have been
instead of this
in the woods i wander
long after all is forgotten,
my hair tangled in branches,
feet pressed into mud.
my cheek grazes wet moss
of a forest that refuses
to damn me and holds
me like no mother ever has before.
i am unabsolved
i am undone
i am all the ‘un’ things
until i am no one.
My review –
One of the standout poems for me was the heart-breaking poem, “Poppet, Mine”, which serves to highlight how young Dorothy Good really was when taken into custody, and her mother accused of witchcraft. She trusts her doll more than people- cloth and thread has never been unkind.
Juliette writes that prophecies are simply ‘shaking heads’, that Dorothy will grow up and rebel against a state which abandons her and be proclaimed a witch for her outward behaviour. This is a terrifying self fulfilling prophecy.
Delighted to be organising a blog tour for this prose poem collection with an important theme!
When Katie finds out that her increasingly unresponsive legs and extreme fatigue is due to Multiple Sclerosis, she rides an emotional rollercoaster – anger, denial and fear – when faced with a wheelchair-bound existence. She puts her studies at Oxford on hold, and she splits up from her fiancé, Mark, even though she still loves him. While undergoing treatment, Katie is diagnosed with MS2 – a virus that paralyses the mind. In hospital, Katie has to cope with her irritating bedfellows who argue constantly, and where she is treated by Dr Andrews, a handsome psychologist. The closer she gets to him however, the worse her pain becomes. Compounding Katie’s struggle is Mark, who returns to her bedside day after day. Once Katie begins Dr Andrews’ new experimental MS2 treatment, Mark can’t recognise her anymore. He begins to wonder if Katie will ever be cured.
More about the Author:
Eleni Cay is a Slovakian-born poet living in Norway. Her award-winning first collection was published by Parthian Books and her second poetry collection ‘Love Algorithm’ is forthcoming by Eyewear Press. Eleni’s debut novel ‘The Love Virus’ was published in spring 2020.
Delighted to be organising a blog tour for poetry collection, Death Magazine by Matthew Haigh (Salt Publishing) this week. I wanted to share an excerpt from this immersive collection, to give you a taste of what could be your next read!
Category: Poetry Available from publisher: SALT Publishing or from author direct
Death Magazine is a neutropian vision of our soundbite, snippet-obsessed, digital and print magazine culture. It employs the Dadaist technique of cut-up to produce poems that range from the blackly comic to the surreal, from the nonsensical to the prescient.
Many of the poems confine themselves to the precise aesthetics of magazine columns, doing away with line breaks entirely to find new meaning in their Modernist forms. Added to the mix are a range of free verse poems more traditional in form. This monster hybrid of styles, of fact and fiction, aims to replicate the untrustworthy, hyperbolic stream of media that absorbs our lives every day.
This radical work creates a futuristic landscape of human emotion as product – a pink, shattered diamond refracting our chaotic times.
PRAISE FOR THIS BOOK
‘“But it’s difficult for a 6 year old to articulate how few things / are as satisfying as the click of a tiny drawer in a tiny cabinet.” Barbie, Grace Jones, silicon immortality, The Alien, computer games – some of the subjects around which Matthew Haigh’s poetry coalesces in this sparkling collection. Despite a kaleidoscopic mixture of cultural references, there’s a sense of an uncompromising and focussed vision emerging from a still presence at the heart of the poetry. The book is funny, sharp, touching and completely itself. I wholeheartedly recommend it.’ —Mark Waldron
‘Your luxury fitness lifestyle is undoubtedly lacking in poetry. It is also, like the famous people poetried in this book, mediated by invisible hands. Hands that tool your well-being up and down with the weather. You need armour. You’ll find it in these pages. Full of surrealistic intensity, black humour, linguistic and formal play, all allied with a dark wit that might protect your brain in the depths of night, Matt Haigh’s Death Magazine is a collection of poems that skewers without cruelty, observes with its teeth, and sees what now needs seeing.’ —S. J. Fowler
‘Exquisitely crafted, elegant and dark dark dark. Poems that nudge me to up my game.’ —James Knight
Hope you are tempted by this gorgeous poetry collection which you can purchase here and you can follow the rest of the tour reviews and interviews below!