Friday Night Drinks with… Elisabeth Horan

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Welcome to another Friday Night Drinks and I am delighted to welcome to the blog for this week’s chat, poet and publisher… Elisabeth Horan.

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Welcome to the blog and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Let’s see, usually I drink prosecco mixed with sauvignon blanc on ice. There was no prosecco at the market so I am having vinho verde instead… lol. I like some bubbles in the drink but no so many as champagne… 🙂

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If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

I’d like to meet you in NYC at Miti Miti, an insanely cool Mexican joint with lots of Frida art and day of the dead decor… they play all the best songs from my time in Mexico (circa 1999-2006).

Otherwise, I’d vote for Nottingham UK at Cafe Sobar for their open mic night… was the most favorite place I have ever performed and been a part of. 

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Oh, I vote for New York. It was the last place I visited before the world shut down, and I can’t wait to go back. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Oh this is a tough one indeed… ok, let’s go with Selena and Winston Churchill. Amazing convo/dance party. 

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

Well I am in my bedroom sitting on the floor using my bed as my desk… my cat Sheldon is here; he has been my co-editor since I’ve started. I’ve written and am trying to perfect a second Frida Kahlo book. It’s been accepted for publication, I don’t think I can reveal where yet, but it is a UK press, which makes me thrilled – my first Kahlo book (ekphrastic work on her paintings), was like the achievement of my life, yet it didn’t get the exposure I hoped for… so I said you know what? I can write poems for Frida all day… and so this one came to be… The Mask, La Mascara. I am really proud of it and I hope to come tour with it in UK next spring, covid be damned. 

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment I think was publishing my first book with Isabelle Kenyon at Fly on the Wall Press back in May of 2019. It was such an unbelievable experience to have my own book, and to imagine that people were actually buying and identified with it. It made all of the pain and struggle worth it. For sure. My biggest challenge, was publishing Alcoholic Betty, at the same press in February of 2020. I went so far and so deep into my fucked up mind, that when it came out, I wasn’t sure I should have written it. But you know, it’s my experience… and why should I hide it – yet the stigma of alcoholism tells me I should not have shared. Also my book, Was it Rape, was incredibly hard and scary to put into the world. I thought my abuser and others in this town would come after me, blame me, hurt me, shame me. Instead, the world felt very quiet when it came out. Which I suppose left me feeling alone, as sexual abuse can do. But I don’t regret either one now… 

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I would like to be the next Plath. Except not commit suicide. I would also like to be the Poet Laureate of Vermont. I know, big ego goals. But those are my honest goals…. ❤

You should always dream big! What are have planned that you are really excited about?

It’s a bit hard at the moment with stupid-ass covid to plan, but I am excited about my press Animal Heart, the amazing lineup we have of contemporary feminist poets, as well our print and online poetry/art mag Feral. My co-editors and I have worked really hard to bring Animal Heart to where it is and we like to imagine female world domination… so… I guess that – feminist world domination. 

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I love Mexico so very much. I studied in a little town named Cholula, near Puebla a few hours south of Mexico City. I felt so at home there – this was the late nineties, and I wish it was still as safe there as it felt then. I would like to invite you to meet me at the Casa Azul, the home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in Coyoacan, Mexico City. My dream, above many dreams is to read the poems I have written for here there… in that space where she lived and created the art which has so inspired me. 

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

There are literally three fruit flies in my vino at this point… not sure how to handle that. I once rode my bike 1100 miles with my dad from Vermont to Indiana to visit my grandparents when I was 17. I am fluent in Spanish. I cry about roadkill, and sometimes can’t leave the house, out of fear of seeing what has died overnight. I remember vividly every road kill animal I have seen, and it haunts me terribly. 

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

I would have you read Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. I think it is the master example of creative brilliance and profound scholarship. Toni blows my mind… inspired me to write not just creatively… but be bloody smart about it. Intellectual in your creativity. 

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Macon ‘Milkman’ Dead was born shortly after a neighbourhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly.

In 1930s America Macon learns about the tyranny of white society from his friend Guitar, though he is more concerned with escaping the familial tyranny of his own father. So while Guitar joins a terrorist group Macon goes home to the South, lured by tales of buried family treasure. But his odyssey back home and a deadly confrontation with Guitar leads to the discovery of something infinitely more valuable than gold: his past and the origins of his true self.

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Ah, well a good tall glass of milk and some tylenol before bed… otherwise, if things end badly, a day of bingewatching the Tiger King of Cheer on Netflix with a pizza and a gallon of ginger ale in bed with Sheldon. 

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

I would love to ride on the train around the UK again, walk around London, go out for a brunch. Get a massage, sit on a bench, people watch. End up in a cozy hotel with clean sheets. Write a poem on my phone, face time my kids… feel alive and in the present – not let the demons sneak up on me… feel proud… knowing I have survived another day, alive, as Eli. 

Thank you so much for joining me, I’ve loved the time we’ve spent together this evening.

Elisabeth is the author of a number of poetry collections, including Just to the Right of the Stove, which was published earlier this year. You can buy a copy here, along with Elisabeth’s other books.

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“Sylvia Plath – an iconic female figure in literary lore – endured a tragic existence, which sadly ended at the age of just thirty, in 1963. Clinically depressed for most of her adult life, she suffered from insomnia, domestic abuse, and several suicidal episodes. Plath was a mother in turmoil, a tortured soul battling her beast of burden. She ended her days by putting her head in the oven and turning up the gas. A bright star snuffed out when it there was so much more left to shine. The fact that she achieved all she did in her short life is remarkable.

That said, her experiences, sadly, are not unique. Elisabeth Horan, somewhat kindred in spirit, is a survivor. Her new collection, Just to the Right of the Stove – a deep, sometimes dark, always sincere imaginary dialogue with her much lauded peer, is proof that one’s suffering can be anesthetised with art. It is a collection that could only be written from a survivor’s perspective; deeply introspective and brutally honest, Horan leaves no layers left unpeeled. It is a tribute to her fallen hero, a means to rationlise her own guilt and failings as a mother and human being without the sanctimonious bullshit that often permeates such confessions, and an example of a very powerful and commanding voice in the poetry world today. It is Horan’s best work to date, and a piece that Plath would surely esteem.” – Paul Robert Mullen

Elisabeth Horan is a poet, mother, and small press publisher living in the wilds of Vermont. She is the author of numerous poetry chapbooks and collections, and Editor-In-Chief of Animal Heart Press. Elisabeth is passionate about discovering new voices and mentoring emerging poets. She is also a fierce advocate for those impacted by mental illness.

She has an MA in English from SNHU and her MFA in Poetry from Lindenwood University. She also teaches English and Writing at her local community college. 

You can connect with Elisabeth further via her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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