Winner of the 2010 Lansdowne Prize for Poetry
Baroness Else von Freytag Loringhoven was called the “first American Dada” and her full embrace of the radical underbelly of society makes many consider a “proto-punk” or an early performance artist.
Jan Horner’s sharp and elegant poems reveal Else’s character and her rough and extravagant life. She peels back the divided nature of Else’s personality revealing how she chased love, and scorned it, with the same kind of determination she chased art and imagination.
The poems are sardonic yet lyrical, broken yet fearless, twisted yet sublime. The voices of Else and her friends and suitors are heard—from her husband Fredrick Phillip Grove to her dog, Pinky. Mama Dada: Songs of the Baroness’s Dog is a burlesque, an art-house of poems and secrets.
In these smartly crafted poems, Horner’s extensive range of voices and techniques, like a flickering collage, compose a vivid re/presentation of the Dada artist and writer, her eccentric, idiosyncratic style, her scattered but intense energies, her dark humour and defiant spirit, weaving biography and historical fact into an eloquent portrait of a remarkable life.
George Amabile, author of Tasting the Dark: New and Selected Poems
Horner goes for broke in this sizzling, dazzling, fiery tramp through the steamy and seamy back lanes of modernist celebrity life, à la she-who-will-not-be-tamed. You thought poetry was getting more cautious or calm in this age of constraint? Think again. Think all that wild suffering comedic energy getting loose again, displaced dogs and baronesses on the romp, "phoenixes freed from the rubble of time.
Di Brandt, author of Now You Care
In the Baroness Jan Horner has researched, created, imagined and dismantled a character constructed of gold leaf and story, cunning, stamina, eccentricity and fatefulness. With curiosity and tenderness the poet writes about her search for this vagabond provocateur, this shape shifter and surrealist poet, and it is invigorating that, as readers, we are as beguiled by the search as we are by the subject.
Meira Cook, author of Slovenly Love
"… I married no one, I married my muse" says the Baroness Else in Jan Horner’s engaged re-imagining of her life. She also says, with terrifying clarity, "I come and go in awful freedom." I'm captivated and moved by the way the outrageous Baroness spills beyond those poems that consider her life to become Horner's troubling muse, raising challenging and painful questions about the cost for a woman of living a sexually free, self-determined life, "propelled toward some vital truth" by her need to make art or write poems. Mama Dada is an exhilarating book, full of poetry with the verve and extravagance of the Baroness herself.
Maureen Scott Harris, author of Drowning Lessons
I was quite happily surprised to discover in Jan Horner, a western Canadian poet, someone who writes sonically powerful and intellectually fascinating poems. With gargantuan words, Horner has crafted some powerful bottle-of-wine, balcony reading.
Greg Reese, The Sheaf
Vivid as a pair of painted-on stockings, these poems linger in the imagination long after the performance.
Jennifer Still, Winnipeg Free Press
The baroness herself could not have wished for a more startling and evocative tribute.
Prairie Fire Review of Books
Turnstone Press Ltd.
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Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada