Review by Stephen Grace on The Compass.
"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."
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."