Book Review by TAK Erzinger: The Horse and The Girl poetry collection by Madeleine F. White

 


TAK Erzinger is an award-winning poet. Her collection “At the Foot of the Mountain” (Floricanto Press California, 2021) won the University of Indianapolis Etching Press, Whirling Prize 2021 for best nature poetry book. It was also a finalist at the The International Book Awards 2022, Willow Run Book Awards and Eyelands Book Awards.  She is an American/Swiss poet and artist with a Colombian background. She lives on a foothill of a Swiss alp with her husband and cats.


Madeleine F. White’s debut poetry collection The Horse and The Girl personifies the life and emotions of a horse.  With sensitivity and wit, she explores the relationship between human and animal that is found during the quiet rituals that occur between a horse and its owner.

An avid rider, White draws on her equestrian experiences and her connection to horses creating a dialogue that depicts the gentle trust between two souls.  In the poem, The Path she delves into the insecurities of facing the unknowns in life “…the path we’re coming to now…” “This one, you mean, beside scary cows?” “That’s exactly my point,” the Girl answered briskly “To you they loom large, to me their quite spiffy.” “Well for me”, said the Horse “One foot follows the other if the road is hard my hooves make a clatter if the path is soft, either mud or grass it means we can go extremely fast.”   This learning to accept things as they come is a reoccurring theme throughout the collection calling the reader to examine their own fears and reactions of what could be faced in life.  The idea of taking each moment as it happens much like what occurs when riding upon a path.

The meaning of life and its journey is shown through the lens of the relationship between the horse and the girl.   The horse reflects the girl’s own thoughts: the push and pull of emotional and spiritual connection to the world around them.  Observing moments in nature, discussions arise about death beginning with a confronting image of a bee meeting its demise, in the poem What About Death: “In the shadow of death/ it’s our soul that rots our hardships magnified/because all the time we are/ living in fear the life-giving spark in us dies.”/“But if like that bee we struggle and fight/demanding the most from each day/then the moment of death can hold us no more/and we soon soar up and away.” It is White’s ability to bring these observations and conversations alive that make the reader feel as if they are sidled up beside her and her horse revealing a glimpse into their collective soul.

The Horse and The Girl is a delicate testament to the special bond between human and animal where each poem examines the meaning of life with humour, candour and love one ride at a time. The Horse and The Girl by Madeleine F. White was published by Lapwing Publications 2022 Belfast and can be found at their website.


Madeleine F. White is the author of Mother of Floods (Crowsnest Books 2020). She was born in Germany, with roots in Canada and the UK. A magazine publisher and editor she has produced national and international web and print magazines creating a voice for those without one such as the successful Nina-Iraq, a project she worked on with the World Bank to reach out to Iraqi women everywhere. Since 2019, she has been founder/editor of Write On! magazine and Write on Extra e-zine, published by Pen to Print, an Arts Council NPO organization. Her work is inspired by her growing belief that fiction is often more powerful than factual journalism in opening us up to truth. Madeleine is married with three children and lives in Broadstairs, a small coastal town in England.

 

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