“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."