All those years
of trying to understand
which of this is her,
which of this is me?
Getting at the truth
was always so confusing
amidst her craziness;
how to separate?
And though the shrink said
Put her in a box—
I never quite could
until that Saturday
when the doorbell rang:
and there stood a man
thin and bedraggled,
dripping in the rain.
He held a clipboard,
a small warped box,
containing my mother
or rather her remains.
Sign here, he said,
and handed me the box.
Funny how this came
though I’ve often wondered
if in a weak moment
I didn’t wish for this.
But now that it’s here
what am I to do
except to hold it close,
feel its roughness
up against my cheek,
smell that terrible smell
of factory cardboard
now finally between us.
The Poetry School: Why Rhyme?
August 1: Writing from the Ashes, Poetry workshop on fire, Flagstaff, Arizona
September 21: Poetry as Memory and Music, Lighthouse Writers, Denver, Colorado
September 28: Poetry Workshop at Wupatki National Monument, Flagstaff, Arizona
September 29: Poetry Workshop at Walnut Canyon National Monument, Flagstaff, Arizona
October 19: Poetry Memory and Childhood Workshop at Monterey Lyceum, Monterey, California
October 20: Ekphrastic Poetry Workshop at Carl Cherry Center for the Arts, Carmel, California
Click on the titles below to listen or read:
Society Bytes Radio | My Dark Horses with Jodie Hollander
Interview with KNAU Arizona Public Radio | Poetry Friday: Poet In Residence, 'My Dark Horses'
'Magnificent...a vast pallette of emotion.' | Jodie Hollander’s Poems Surmount Emotional Milestones - from the Portland Mercury
The Voice of America | The High Window Journal’s Featured American Poet: Winter 2017, Jodie Hollander
Interview with KDNK Community Radio | Poetess Jodie Hollander
Interview on KGNU Boulder | Colorado poet Jodie Hollander
Colorado Public Radio Interview | Poetry Collection Takes On Mother-Daughter Strife
Interview with WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio Interview | Making Music out of Words
Interview with Ted Mills/Funk Zone Podcast | Jodie Hollander
The Poetry Review: "Corn on the Cob"
PN Review: "And what if in the end he's Just a Bird," "Two Horses," "The Worry Book"
Quadrant: "Vegetable," "Visiting the Horses"
The Yale Review: "The Potato Plants."
Liverpool University Press: (Pavilion Poetry) My Dark Horses, April 2017.
Tall-lighthouse Publishing, The Humane Society, November 2012
The Best Australian Poems of 2015: “Oblivion.”
The Best Australian Poems of 2011: “The Humane Society.”
PN Review: “Caprice for Violin:” “Mother’s Tomato Plants,” “Mother’s Wrists,” Winter 2016
The New Criterion: “Ruts.”
The Rialto: "Horse Bones," "History Class," November 2016; “How to Fry a Chicken,” June 2015
The Manhattan Review: “A Box,” Fall 2016
Westerly: “Zero Hour,” Fall 2015
The Poetry Review: “He’s,” Fall 2015; “Splitting and Fucking,” Summer 2014
Australian Book Review: “A Box,” Fall 2015
Drunken Boat: “Draft of a Dream,” issue 23, 2015
The Evansville Review: “The Sound of Scissors,” Winter 2015
Verse Daily: “My Mother’s Will Emailed in pdf,” June 5, 2014
The Dark Horse: “Oblivion,” Spring 2014
The North: “The Metronome,” “Migraine” Spring 2014
The Raintown Review: “Speaking With the Dead,” Spring 2014
Stand: “Dream of a Burning Woman,” “Talking in Lamu,” “The Family Freezer,” Spring 2014
The Reader: “The Talking Tree,” “Taking my Mother to England,” Fall 2013
The Manchester Review: “The Humane Society,” Romancing Herself,” Fall 2013
Ambit: “Green,” “Skyping with my Mother,” Fall 2013
The Warwick Review: “Little Serenade,” “Mother’s Persian Rugs,” Fall 2013; “Migraine,” “My Mother’s Will Emailed in pdf,” Fall 2011
Poet Lore: “Metronomes,” Spring 2012
Poetry New Zealand: “The Glass Elephants,” Spring 2012
Poetry Ireland Review: “Victoria Park,” Fall 2011
When it first stormed in Costa Rica
I knew there was nothing I could do.
Our little yellow house started leaking,
all our fruit trees were losing their fruit.
The pink heliconia were battered,
the banana leaves swirled in the rain.
Where was my husband? That didn’t matter,
our tiny yellow house was starting to shake.
So I did the only thing I know,
I dragged out a chair and opened a beer,
knowing destruction will do what it will do—
I sat back, and watched what was here.
Poet in Residence for the Museum of Northern Arizona, September 2018 - January 2019
The Studios of Key West, Key West, Florida, May-June 2018
Escape2Create, Seaside, Florida, Artist in Residence, January 2017
The Morris Squire Foundation, Santa Barbara, California, Artist in Residence: September, 2016; January 2018
Varda Artist’s Residency, Sausalito, California, May 2016
Rivendell Writers Colony: Lisa Percy fellowship, Sewanee, Tennessee, February, 2016
Artist in Residence: Stanley, Idaho, April, 2015
The MacDowell Colony: Peterborough, New Hampshire, February-March, 2015
Chateau de la Napoule: Nice, France, October-November, 2014
The Betsy Hotel, Writer-in-residence, Miami, Florida, January, 2014
Virginia Center for the Creative Arts: Amherst, Virginia, July, 2014
Cil Rialaig Arts Foundation: Kerry, Ireland, June, 2014
Hawthornden Fellowship: Midlothian, Scotland, March-April, 2013
Wilfred Owen Association: Full bursary at Ty Newydd Centre, Wales, August, 2012
Grace Marion Wilson Trust: Rosebank Writer’s Bursary, Australia, July, 2011
Fulbright Fellowship for Study of Literature and Education in South Africa, 2007
National Endowment for the Humanities, award for study of Dante in Siena, Italy, 2005
“A torrent of shocking and revelatory poetry simmers between the covers of My Dark Horses , pulling the reader in with the very first poem, “Splitting and Fucking”: “My mother, / poor woman / somehow she was / always the victim / of splitting and fucking.” Talented, unpredictable, and dangerous, this mother is a malevolent force of nature, pitting her children against each other, ridiculing her husband, and “always the victim” of her bad decisions, lusts and passions.”
Read the review by Erica Goss at Pedestal Magazine
“The poems in this collection, both blunt and lyric, stoic and tender, roll over the palate like the flavors of a complex dish."
Read the review by Donna Vorreyer at Rhino
“Jodie Hollander’s powerful debut collection is as hypnotic and rich as a dream, taking as its epigraph Rimbaud’s assertion that “A thousand dreams within me softly burn”, and returning to the word “dream” repeatedly, balancing dreamscapes with vividly realized portraits from life.”
Read the review by Suzannah V. Evans at The Times Literary Supplement
"This is a technically competent, enjoyable collection...You will feel your humanity strengthened by reading it."
Read the entire review at The High Window.
"My Dark Horses offers no easy solutions but rather, hard-won understanding."
Read the entire review at The Poetry School.
"The past also preoccupies Jodie Hollander’s compelling My Dark Horses, which traces the troubled relationship of the poet with her mother. The collection returns, obsessively, to the mother – the trauma she inflicts and the trauma she suffers – and in doing so throws events and objects that seem innocuous into sharp relief. ‘The Red Tricycle’, for example, sparks recollections of Hollander’s mother being sexually abused by her father, and the poem imagines how ‘she held her mother’s big body / in her skinny white arms’. This is a heart-rending example of how Hollander charges even the plainest of lines with violent meanings: in its child-like simplicity, ‘big’ envelopes the poem in the consciousness of the abused child and emphasises the horrific inversion of a traumatised daughter having to comfort her own mother."
Read the review by Stephen Grace at The Compass.
The underlying emotional urgency of Jodie Hollander's poems is undeniable - but it's their tone that makes them unignorable. This meeting of searing family dysfunction and poignant metaphor with her matter-of-fact American vernacular strikes sparks.
These poems bristle with the contained energy of conflicts that continue to shape who we are and impel what we do. The collection moves satisfyingly from wry observation – “at least nothing important got burnt / like Mother’s cello, or Father’s Steinway piano” (with its telling capital) – towards the uneasy peace of accepting that “destruction will do what it will do” and the discovery that poetry has the power to lay ghosts to rest – “I sat back, and watched what was here.”
-Andrew McCulloch, The Times Literary Supplement
These poems are full of situations redolent of grief and loss; yet they are far too vigorous to be depressing. The effect… is not of despair, but of rising to the occasion.
-Meg Crane, The Wilfred Owen Association
Online reviews at Sphinx Reviews
"This slim, elegant pamphlet is American poet Jodie Hollander’s first collection. I found it hauntingly sad and emotionally powerful."