The Poetry of Winter Rose, with Elisabeth Horan
Hi all, we welcome today our first poet, Elisabeth Horan, who writes as Winter Rose. Having reached considerable success, Eli is a lovely lady who is happy to answer our questions on what many consider a fickle art.
I’m Eli - I started writing in 2016 at age 40. I had always worked as a waitress and secretary - and I was miserable. I was an alcoholic, depressed and without hope - After I had my two sons as an older mum, I knew I had to get my life together, and so I went back to online grad school and got an MA and then an MFA in Poetry. I wanted to be able to tell my children that I followed my dreams, and that I didn’t give in to the difficulty of my life. To addiction and depression. I wanted to be mum they were proud of.
Tell us how you first get into poetry and whether it’s an offshoot of other writing. Also, many writers are confused as to whether poetry should rhyme or not, could you express your views on this subject?
My poetry is varied in form, style, and function. I don’t think poetry has to follow any rules, unless the poet likes them. I am able to write sonnets and rhyming couplets and such - formal verse - but I also like to write dark and explosive words fresh from my mind which are considered ‘experimental’ or free verse. I just think they are me.
I also don’t often use big words and obscure references. I like poetry to be accessible. For everyone to be able to read my poems and say, ‘Hey, I’ve felt like that before. I get that’. My goal in writing poems is to connect with my readers, to let them know they are not alone in their struggles.
Tell us a little about your Successes.
My debut book “Bad Mommy / Stay Mommy” is with a publisher in the UK, Fly on the Wall Poetry Press, Editor Isabelle Kenyon. When I had my second son I fell into a severe postpartum depression which I wasn’t sure I would survive at times. It lasted 6 years.
I’ve struggled with mental illness my whole adult life, but this was its own monster. I wrote many of the poems in this book while in the darkness of that depression - it’s all very real and painful. I think it has feelings that most of us with mental illness can relate to, whether you’re a mother or not. The pain or PTSD, guilt, fear, rage, hopelessness - all themes I try to look in the eye.
The book also offers hope that massive depression can be overcome. I did survive to raise my children, and to write this book which I hope will be a voice to help other who may be suffering alone and in pain.
Describe to us your method of writing, whether you just sit down and write, whether it flows easily, you struggle, or whether an idea will pop into your head.
My methods of writing… Well, I often wake up early in the morning with a poem in my mouth, quite literally wanting to fall out. I have to grab my phone and email it to myself, or I’ll forget it. Many of my best poems have come this way, including Wellbutrin in my Brain from the Stay Mommy book.
I have a terrible secret to share, I hate to edit! I can’t stand to struggle over a poem, and if I can’t get them right - or close to right - on the first or second try, I usually ditch them. <Laughs>. It’s just my own issue. When I over edit my work, it often suffers and comes out worse. I would never admit this to an MFA instructor though, ha ha.
Please share with us where you like to write.
My favorite place to write is where I am now. In bed, with my Chromebook, my cat Sheldon on my feet, a coffee, and in my sweatpants.
A moment which just came to me, and which I consider so memorable, was when my first collection was accepted - Just to the Right of the Stove, which is to be released in November from Hedgehog Poetry Press, UK. Mark Davidson is the editor.
I was at a hotel with my two sons, last August, and I was happily pregnant at the time. Mark emailed to say he loved my book so much - it's about myself talking with Sylvia Plath in her kitchen moments before her suicide - and I was in heaven to hear this news. I was going to have a book come out! It was one of my proudest moments. But a short while later I began to bleed and I miscarried the baby. It still devastates me. I often wonder how life can be so magical, and full of wonder and blessings, yet also filled with darkness and loss.
If you were to meet a poet, who would it be, and why?
I would like to meet Dickinson, Frost and Plath. They are the three poets who inspire me the most and who I have modeled my craft after. Studying each of them helped me define my own voice. I also think I would have some amazing conversations with each. Frost lived near me, in New Hampshire, and I think we would talk about farming and sugaring.
Dickinson also lived near where I am now, in Vermont, and I think I understand her need to write about longing, death and passion, nature and God: these are the things I write about also. I feel like I understand her, and her loneliness, her yearning. I feel it too.
Plath often pondered on how to be a mother and a poet. Can one live both lives? Also, the men in her life did not leave her with happy feelings. I understand that. She always suffered from debilitation mental illness and in that kitchen, that morning, the demons overcame her and she could not resist succumbing to the pain.
I did hold on, and I survived. But I can also understand how the demons can win. I write a lot about being on the edge of suicide, and I always try to remind myself - and others - to hang on one more day; just hold onto my hand and don’t let go. I’ll pray and carry your heart until you can find the foothold again. Just don’t let go. <3
Advice for those writing poetry
My best advice. Well, be yourself. Write what you know. People will respond to you and your voice and your honesty. Read other poets, borrow ideas and tricks from them. Just write and don’t worry, see what happens. Be brave. Don't be afraid to say things that others might know. Courage in writing is like courage as a human - it draws others to us and gives hope to those without a means to express themselves.
Use your senses - think it music, smell, touch and taste - question and provoke - get mad, fall in love, ache and blossom - be real. Trust your reader to accept you for who you are, what you've survived, and how you feel <3
My poems, which are the best received, are often those which were also the most painful to share; because people relate to them.
Elisabeth Horan is a poet/momma/flower/animal from Vermont writing her heart out and caring for all creatures. She has books on the way from Fly on the Wall, Twist in Time, Rhythm & Bones, Hedgehog, Pen & Anvil and Cephalo.
Elisabeth is proud to serve as Poetry Editor @ Anti-Heroin Chic & is Editor in Chief at Animal Heart Press. She is also Co-Editor of IceFloe Press, Toronto. Breathe the air. Feel the love. Let’s be kind and cherish one another. @ehoranpoet & ehoranpoet.com
Friends pickles horses rivers cookies sleep sex and sunsets
I have walked through low valleys
with the shadow of death as my ally.
I have met what might take me across.
I did fear the evil -
deep down in my toes.
It smelt like charred bones;
smoky and rancid as burnt pig nose.
I felt the close breath of its chant in my ear:
“Come on, come on”, I’ll show you the fear,
tickling my throat with its
white, bristling whiskers.
I felt its relentless pull on my ankles
dragging me under, swirling eddies of rancor,
drowning in the rain
of riptide currents in my brain.
I felt the sticky threads of spider webs
crisscrossing my face, begging me to play;
I held onto the thought
of your soft little hands
cupping my cheeks;
the warmth of your fingers
tore me free from my cohorts -
Quieted their urgent calls;
echoes rippling into the fray.
God wanted me I’m sure.
For although I was a demon in my own right,
wandering through the dust and darkness in
the lonely corners of my mind -
A little angel named you, -
alighted on my shoulder
and softly whispered:
“What strikes me most at the core of Elisabeth Horan’s Bad Mommy / Stay Mommy is the generosity of its voice. These poems share fears, criticisms, confessions, shortcomings, wounds, and hopes in full, honest throat because the poet trusts us to hear her. No matter how close these poems get to giving up, they face fault and self-loathing like a sandblast, coming away less diminished than polished by it. There’s pain, yes, and even unraveling. But there is also redemption in this telling, and even hope. Horan’s poems teem with the complexities of life. They sing even when the song hurts. Most of all, they are necessary because, as she writes, “Saying I’m sorry is not enough.”” —Jack B. Bedell, author of No Brother, This Storm, Poet Laureate, State of Louisiana, 2017-2019
Odd list odd house odd me---
Odd list odd house odd me---
Time navigates its ream of paper
My father sister brother neighbors
My quill my ache my captain
Travel, upon scented rainbows
made, laid upon my breast in
A love bandage, my soul less hollow
my face more colorful,
a theater enacted
From the weight of my legs I cannot
stand. You do not write enough these
stoic days of leaves and language---
Not that I judge, yet behold a
Seems to permeate my list my house
my pores, this skin-wrapped present damp
with a mildew stench---unbeknownst,
Before I knew of your tick tock hands,
Odd list, Odd house . Odd me - Love Poems for Emily, June 21, 2019:
Something for to worship
What a woman wouldn't do
to be torn into something new -
a more vixen version of her usual;
a muse unknown by her summer god
One covered by youth and genius
and the lushly muscled torso. That of the
lion and the rhino. Not that of the
cobra and the gecko. See inside me now -
Little orb of red bullet flickers on/off
for the idea of you; little gem ruby-red
rock produces shock waves at the
image of a man, with his hands, with a face,
With a mouth residing in the cave of
my crisis - saying lay down woman...
be still. Lay down --- while I go ahead
and revel in the worship of you.