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.
Poetry School, Speaking in Tones: Crafting Musical Poetry
November 17 and 18 - Presenting on My Dark Horses at the Miami Book Fair, Miami, Florida
July 14: Poetry of Place at the Rocky Mountain Land Library, South Park, Colorado
October 6: Poetry Workshop at Basalt Region Library, Basalt, Colorado
October 14: Headwaters Poetry Festival, Gunnison, Colorado
October 21: Poetry Workshop at Colorado Springs Public Library
October 22: Workshop at Colorado Springs Public Library, East Branch
December 3-18: Chacala Literature Festival, Chacala, Mexico
To see a list of past workshops, click here.
Click on the titles below to listen or read:
'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
"The Potato Plants" is forthcoming in The Yale Review.
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.
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
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
"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."