Book Review – “Bad Mommy Stay Mommy” by Elisabeth Horan

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I’m so thrilled to share the first-ever book review I have written for a dear friend of my mine Elisabeth Horan. The book has been published by UK based Fly on the Wall Poetry Press on May 10,2019.

Elisabeth Horan is an Editor at Animal Heart Press and has several chaps and collections coming out this year. She recently earned her MFA from Lindenwood University and received 2018 Best of the Net Nomination from Midnight Lane Boutique and a 2018 Pushcart Nomination from Cease Cows. She has books forthcoming with Fly on the Wall Poetry Press, Twist in Time Press, Rhythm & Bones Press and Hedgehog Poetry Press.

The book is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format.

Do read the book review and share your thought in the comments section.

Thanks a million.

Megha Sood

Bad Mommy/Stay Mommy  – By Elisabeth Horan

Book Review – Megha Sood

This book is a riveting account of the pain and self-loathing birthing in the mind of a mother going through the atrocities of postpartum depression after the birth of her second son. It is a brilliant exposition of the pain, anxiety and the constant struggle the mind of a young mother goes through. Horan bravely highlights the self-flagellation and the anxiety through her confessional style poems as she unravels the pain in her poems. 

The poem ” Wellbutrin in my brain” exposes the suicidal tendencies which creep in her mind due to her medication for depression. The cry for help and the feeling of despair is reeking through the words. She also talks about how depression has riddled her with guilt and thoughts of self-harm. This fragile state, balanced precariously between the living and the dead, is brilliantly penned.

Horan describes the onset of the depression with the birth of the second son in the poem “A son is born the second”. The poem is an honest confession about the hopes, fear and the downright anxiety the young mother is subjected too. There is the unraveling of pain coupled with streaks of sibling rivalry. This brilliant exposition by Horan informs the readers about the stigma of postpartum depression and mental illness in our society.

The poem “Arsenic Hour” is yet again a brilliant wordplay which depicts the fecundity of the emotions the mind and the body goes through as a result of motherhood. The need for self-identification through various metaphors sumps up the rollercoaster the mind is going through.

One of the few other favorites of mine from the collection is the ” On hands and Knees in the Twilight, Like a Wise Pussy Cat” where the poet talks about the constant turmoil between the body as the mind going through stages of depression, with a feverish desire of a mother to hold her newborn. Horan admits her feelings and anxiety through her confessional style of poetry.

In “Small Souls” Horan painfully sums up the trauma rising from childhood with an absent father to the pain triggering from the rape. She portrays the interdependency of the kids on the parent, holding out their hands for solace, who in turn is riddled with fear and anxiety.

Yet another gem in the collection is the poem “Basement Mother” where Horan portrays the pain of a mother alienating herself emotionally and physically from her family– locking herself down in the basement. This gut-wrenching declaration of pain and guilt has been well portrayed.

“Mother Maple” is a painful rendition of the anxiety which comes through the idea of self-harm, which courses through her fragile mind. The metaphor of a falling maple tree falling opening in the wild, crushing the smaller saplings, brings out the survival instinct of the kids living with a mother with suicidal tendencies.

There is self-loathing in the poems like “Dismal Prayers of the ruminating night mother” and which seeks redemption through telling. This poem sums up the traumas shaping her life and looks for any sign of redemption.

The tail end of the collection brings out the poems “Would/n’t be better off–” My personal favorite from the collection. This brilliant exposition of words breaking midway is a brilliant metaphor of the sense of incompleteness, the writhing feeling of brokenness inside the mind of the poet. The mind riddled with the guilt of self-harm is crying for survival. The unrelenting cries of despair are portrayed through the incoherent structure of the sentences. A poetry form portraying the pain and anxiety through its broken structure is absolutely brilliant.

The placement of the last three poems “Here comes” “Therapy ” and Stay mommy” consciously divides the collection into two halves. The Bad Mommy constantly struggling through the ill effects of postpartum depression and the stigma associated with it whereas Stay mommy courageously reclaims its position in the family through love and support. The constant trial and tribulation of keeping the sanity and fighting the stigma have been balanced by the support of the loved ones. A necessary ingredient.

I would strongly encourage the readers to buy this riveting collection.

–Megha Sood

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