Elisabeth Horan- Just to the Right of the Stove

Elisabeth Horan’s latest 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…

The first half of the collection is entitled Welcome to the Kitchen, the heart of most houses though certainly the place most haunted in one particular Primrose Hill home. Identity, depression and an acceptance of it are key themes here along with an understanding of what it takes to be true to oneself and how that truth can be isolating, discomforting and how quickly you can be removed from society and turned into a Pollack canvas of mixed acrylics that nobody really wants to understand. The kitchen is the heart of the home just as the mind is the control centre of the body and the collection walks barefoot across a razor-sharp, frenzied fear of what happens when control falls away.

The mind and the oven here are inseparable. They both heat, bake and burn, require constant monitoring, tease with thoughts and scorching flames. The question that resides between each carefully chosen, and often fragmented, word is how far one is willing to go to document one’s rises and descents? Following on from Bad Mommy, Stay Mommy and Alcoholic Betty, Just to the Right of the Stove further examines those demands of fame against what it means to be an artist, to have a voice and to be brave enough to share that voice, no matter what comes out.  Between the icon and the eager student are toss ups, teasing’s and taunting’s all bordering on how truthfully we must be when revealing who we are, how we got here, who bent us backward or who we climbed over. ‘She is so bad, she yells at her kids. She ate her own heart…’ this collection devours, destroys and often dismisses the soul while trying to figure out how best to save it when faced with society’s attitude towards strong, demanding, willing, broken, battered, unstoppable women clinging on to either creation, medication or bipolarisation.

Here, Horan walks the line of motherhood, trying to balance crazy and creative, fathers, sons and Freuds, all in kitchens and clinics, alongside children looking for answers to questions our author is trying to break down into edible parts while Plath’s ghost makes its way around the kitchen and its distractions as the timer winds its way down to that ever-important stove.

In the end, we are left to dig out hope from the ashes after their final scurry towards that stove; the broken teeth, the skin that could not hold and the message one left the other, before the future of one or both is enveloped, all just to the right of the stove that Horan has stoked with her own exquisite touch of unequivocable honesty. Riding the fine line between the beast and the better, there is a rawness here to the flow and form that is as addictive as the tick of the timer. This is not a comfortable ride, so I suggest you buckle up, as it’s also a ride you won’t want to miss.

Here we are given the perfect opportunity to examine what we worship, how we worship and how, with time, understanding and self-worth, the student can become the standalone talent and the icon can become human again.

You can find Elisabeth Horan on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ehoranpoet

Just to the Right of the Stove is published by Twist in Time

You can find out more about Elisabeth Horan and her other collections at her website…

https://ehoranpoet.net/

Elisabeth read some poems from this collection and a few others on Eat the Storms, my Poetry Podcast a few weeks ago…

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