Read The Horizontal Poet by Jan Steckel Online


First full-length poetry collection by Jan Steckel, author of two chapbooks, The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) and Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009). The Horizontal Poet won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award.Jan Steckel is a retired Harvard- and Yale-trained pediatrician, an activist for disability and bisexual rights, a poet, and a writer. Her poetry, fictionFirst full-length poetry collection by Jan Steckel, author of two chapbooks, The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) and Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009). The Horizontal Poet won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award.Jan Steckel is a retired Harvard- and Yale-trained pediatrician, an activist for disability and bisexual rights, a poet, and a writer. Her poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Yale Medicine, Bellevue Literary Review and elsewhere. She has won multiple national awards for her chapbooks and poems and has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Oakland, California with her husband, Hew Wolff....

Title : The Horizontal Poet
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ISBN : 9780929730943
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 88 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Horizontal Poet Reviews

  • Rose Boehm
    2019-06-15 07:36

    Review of Jan Steckel's THE HORIZONTAL POETby Rose Mary BoehmAs far as I am concerned, THE HORIZONTAL POET is a collection of love poems in the most differing colors, shapes and sizes. What is love? Indeed. Nobody has figured it out well enough to give a concise and unequivocal response. And that's why most of our greatest works of art (oriental and occidental) wouldn’t exist if they weren’t all intent on answering the question in writings, music, painting, sculpture, films and, of course, poetry… Steckel has managed to make some aspects of love visible, readable, imaginable, fun. The language is sometimes witty, more often outright beautiful, the images irresistible and the general effect the collection had on me was infinitely pleasurable. I have added THE HORIZONTAL POET to the little bunch of favorites I have tucked away in a corner of my bookshelves. Talking about ‘all colors, shapes and sizes’, just take the first poem, The History of Our Love, in which you find passages like this one:If you were a skeleton,/and I were a skeleton,/we would weave our bones together/in a death’s-head embrace,andWe’d grind, scrape, click and rattle/right through the nightgo from there to Haditha:Here children learned to read./Where Gilgamesh loved Enkidu,/where men first wrote on clay,/the soldiers kicked open the doorsandWho will sing sorrow? Sing sorrow./The flood has passed over us/and our mouths are stopped/with sand.and to Silver Fox:You hardly slept. You lived in this hospital room./You didn't have laugh lines or even crow'sfeet./Black grooves radiated from your eyes' corners/as though tarnish had settled in from your silver hair.andYour man is gone. You’re sad. Each day, though,/wings from your shoulders like a migrating bird./You’re getting lighter, limbering up./Move through the room like a girl at the fair.Then there is Harder:When my little love lay under me, she became/a vixen fouler-mouthed than any stevedore./”Fuck me harder!/Make me your whore!”/She was trying to talk to a man in me,/a rapist who wasn’t there./I didn’t understand talking dirty./It left me bewildered.andSometimes I lie awake/trying to remember how I loved her,/but I never try hard enough,/I hear her gravelly, coal-town voice urging me,/”Harder. Harder.”I enjoyed this collection immensely and shall read it many more times, every time making my world a little larger.

  • Virginia
    2019-06-02 05:08

    Jan Steckel writes poetry like most people write novels; each poem is a revelation, a story that illuminates lives we'd normally never see. She writes as an M.D. (pediatrician), a medical student, a bi-sexual and above all as a woman who faces situations from which many of us would turn and run with courage and compassion and delightful insight. I've enjoyed this poetry book so very much and highly recommend it!! She never shirks her duty as a doctor/writer!

  • Hilcia
    2019-06-02 03:25

    Nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) is Jan Steckel's first full-length poetry collection. I found Steckel's poetry to be personal and quite intimate, and the collection as a whole ambitious in its undertaking.While reading The Horizontal Poet I found that Jan Steckel is passionate about her poetry, but through her poetry it's obvious that there is more. Steckel is a retired doctor suffering from a disability, an activist for bisexual and disability rights, and a writer. Steckel's personal experiences and interests are reflected in her poetry, and she weaves in medicine, social issues and concerns, as well as personal and relationship experiences, all in a rich, sensual, down to earth style.I loved that this collection is not divided into sections and that her poems are interwoven. Both the intimacy of Steckel's poetry and the format serve to make that all-important connection between the reader and poet. It's almost as if the reader were looking through a window into the poet's life and thoughts as events take place, life evolves, and her memories come to life. For example, you will find a love poem "The History of Our Love" next to one filled with her social concerns, "The Wind and the Boy," or another where she bears her soul about losing a patient, "Swallowing Flies," alongside a poem where she indulges her love of hanging out in strip joints, "The Naked and the Dread."Steckel's prose throughout this 57 poetry collection is both lyrical and direct as she uses a mixture of both the narrative form of verse and rich poetic metaphors. While you will find that in some of her poems Steckel uses medical terminology in a rather unique way, it is her compassionate and haunting poems depicting experiences during her medical career -- "Swallowing Flies,""Charity and the Hurricane," and "The Underwater Hospital," and others depicting her own personal, physical pain --""Halloween Wedding,""Nightkeeper"-- that impacted me the most.There are whole poems in this collection that left an impression, and then there are others where only certain lines stayed with me. I read and re-read this book a few times before reviewing it. The bottom line is that Steckel's poetry is distinctive in that it can be read from her perspective as the bisexual poet, the disabled poet, the medical poet, or for its social content. In The Horizontal Poet you get it all, and in the end I found that reading Jan Steckel's poetry from the woman's perspective as a whole, this collection makes an even stronger statement.B+ (4.5/5.0) Complete review with quotes from the book at Impressions of a Reader

  • Kelley White
    2019-06-27 00:08

    Kelley Jean White 26 Heritage RoadLaconia, NH 03246(603) [email protected]‘The History of Our Love,’ the first poem of Jan Steckel’s The Horizontal Poet, lets us know that we are about to be lead into a unique world of shocking tenderness by a speaker who can show us love informed by medical knowledge, medical knowledge informed by sexual experience, and to an almost queasy teasing place where a clavicle bumps up against an acromion and a lover’s phalanges play ribs like ‘a horny, bony xylophone’Steckel’s poems are impactful and finely crafted. We are shown the hard lives of patients and the personal stretches the physician must make in reaching to provide medical and human caring. She is a master of cadence as she brings an operating room scence to vivid life: Sterilely we draped him, the luminous ritual, the sparkling knives, him on the altar at the top of the pyramid. --‘Swallowing Flies’and we are allowed to see the medical student alone after the failed operation I thought it respectful to stand at attention/until his heart stopped beating’. In the space of a few pages Steckel can show us injustice, towards individual patients and families, and in the outer world, as in ‘Haditha’ we hear of ‘garlands of fingers and toes’ at the site of a massacre near Bagdad, a place where, stunningly, ‘The flood has passed over us/and our mouths are stopped/with sand;’ then she can show us the bittersweet pain of intimacy as we are read a litany of lovers in ‘Black Leather,’ bringing us to a surprising place, ‘When you tie my wrists in those soft leather ties,/they make me feel so loved,/the way a hood quiets a falcon.’ Through such vivid work Steckel reminds us that the ‘The poet is a camera, click, click, click,’ wondering, as she sketches a seaside scene ‘How much is underwater, paddling madly,/just to look serene for one snap of the shutter?’ Sometimes, as in ‘Pretty, Wild,’ I have to remember that the speaker in the poems is not necessarily the poet, that these may not be all personal, confessional poems but rather a chorus of voices, multiple personae encountering ‘Maria Green’ pole dancer and mother of twins, and ‘Carmen’ in ‘The Underwater Hospital’: . . .with her box of chocolates inviting me onto her bed to watch Puerto Rican girls mud-wrestling on late night black-and-white hospital TV.Play mixes with pain: ‘What kind of lover/needs leather to love her? (‘Look Back in Angora’). Precise language yields the resonant image: ‘Hawk on a line. Hawk on a post./Hawk on the crux of a crucified grapevine.’ (‘Santa, Santa, Santa’). And a widow struggles ‘to grasp the brass ring/of meaning in the doctor’s words.’ (‘Silver Fox.’) Steckel celebrates words, thus, in a poem honoring a slam champion ‘Aaron on the Mountaintop’, she can rap ‘I’m fried. I’m toast,/I’m a wheezing ghost’. She can use words to stun and challenges us, baring for us views of both her medical and personal bedside manners.

  • Nina
    2019-06-24 01:14

    Steckel’s poetry is earthy, explicit, sensual, take-no-prisoners. Although full of rich metaphor, her writing makes sense; the reader works to find personal connection, not to find basic understanding. She draws on her training as a physician, her personal experiences with disability, family history, and her background as a bisexual activist to offer us a rich buffet of poetry. Although the term “bisexual activist” is Steckel’s own self-description, I think her activism is even broader. Her poetry draws attention to the disenfranchised, whether it be due to disability, socio-economics, religion, or immigrant status. Her superb use of powerful imagery keeps me coming back to lines such as these, from a poem where she asks her grandmother to take her to the Castro: Her Mercedes launched like a torpedo from the underground garage.She captures the Castro perfectly, with phrases and lines such as “manly beauty sizzled” and: spreading of feathers, the sheer display of pierced and tattooed flesh preening that day on the summer street. (Pretending)In “Twenty Thousand Vaginas Under the Sea”, Steckel talks about “all the dead mermaids” whose skeletons turned to chalk. The second stanza urges the reader to think of these mermaids any time chalk is used. Several examples are given, ending with these lines: And all that’s left of bodies born to tempt marks a tennis court’s edge or the price of haddock on a market slate.Her poetry is firmly grounded in a sense of place. From Ballena Bay to Crab Cove, pilings, tide lines, orange-eyed night heron, cluster of sandpipers. (Alameda in the Shutter-click)In two exquisite lines, Steckel captures the ecstasy of love and lust: I felt my DNA unscrew when she walked into a room. (Pretty, Wild)Steckel uses her training and experience as a physician for many of her strongest poems.In “Swallowing Flies,” she alternates verses from the children’s song There was an old lady who swallowed a fly in a long poem about a patient who saw his doctor for a routine screening test, needed cardiac surgery, had multiple complications, and died.At times humorous, at times nostalgic, Steckel keeps her readers engaged. I find more nuggets with each reading.

  • I. Merey
    2019-06-18 01:10

    I don't want to be one of those frumpy old people grumbling about 'modern poetry', but I can't help it. Too often, I find it masturbatory. Self-indulgent. I get the sense that it is written for an elite circle. So here is first and foremost, what I love about this volume: It is written for and about the people. Young people, old people, male people, female people, white people, brown people, tan people, bi-people, straight-people and gay people. Intellectuals and non-intellectuals. Is it weird to say I have a crush on Jan Steckel? Whatever, it's the internet and I don't care ;3 I had the fortune of hearing this poet read live a couple of months ago from 'The Horizontal Poet.' I loved her candidness, how her poetry deflected pretentiousness. Having read the whole volume now, I like it more than ever. Love, death, medicine, bodies, souls. Faith, tradition, break from tradition. Saving the body. Saving the soul, no matter who you are or of what background. Relationships, between parents and children, between relatives, between lovers and friends.Simple pleasures, and simple, deep cruelty. It is poetry made up of elements found in the periodic table--it takes place in places I've been to. I am in this volume (I would like to now publicly apologize to all the people whose lives I made miserable by my past DDR obsession and our current late-night Rockband sessions)--I am sure that you are in this volume too. It made me laugh and look into my own memories and miss places I've lived in and places I will probably never go to.Some of my personal favorites (a truncated list): Aaron on the Mountain Top, East Oakland New Year's, Cancer and the Man, Home Run, The White Hospital... there are so many good ones. I recommend it so highly and hope Steckel never stops writing, never stops living.

  • Chad Cowgill
    2019-06-23 23:22

    I got this book through the Goodreads Giveaways.The poems were well written. They showed me the life of the author and there were various poems describing different aspects of her life including different cities, settings, etc. The pictures they created in your mind were well conceived and easy to put together, many of the poems had a point that could be discovered. All together a great book!

  • Jimmy
    2019-06-11 05:34

    Fascinating narrative poems. I was involved in all the stories she told. Themes ranged from human sexuality to her experiences as a pediatrician.

  • Ellie
    2019-05-30 05:25

    From Horizontal Poet by Jan Steckle won the Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Nonfiction last year. Lots of poets identify as bisexual, but it’s unique to find an entire collection of bisexual poetry. While many of the poems deal with non-bisexual issues, several are about former girlfriends and boyfriends.Steckle favors narrative poetry forms. She’s a retired pediatrician, and her medical experience is a major theme in her writing. Two prominent examples are “Charity After the Hurricane,” which describes a hospital’s staff struggling to keep people alive without electricity, and “Swallowing Flies,” about a patient undergoing abdominal surgery. Steckle juxtaposes dry medical language with language that is either crude (“Jeannie’s suctioning green crap/ out of the Funny Looking Kid’s trach”) or lyrical. In “Swallowing Flies,” she intersperses the story of a man suffering from an abdominal aortic aneurysm with a nursery rhyme. The nursery rhyme’s familiar development foreshadows the inevitable conclusion, and the child-like rhyme parallels the naive bewilderment of the medical student witnessing her first death.Humorous moments relieve the medical themes, as in the haiku “My First Senryu” and “My Jericho.” In “Hard as Nails” she describes both superstition in a scientific field, and working as a feminine woman with pretty nails. Other themes include her Latvian family heritage (“Diamonds and Rubies” and “The Maiden Aunts”), and disability activism. Her eponymous poem, “The Horizontal Poet” describes a woman’s shocked reaction to Steckle’s request to lay down for a poetry reading, as though it were sexually improper.This could be a thesis statement for the collection as a whole. Steckle’s writing is accessible to new poetry readers, but her expressive and open style offers something for seasoned fans of poetry as well.

  • Penelope Bartotto
    2019-06-02 06:15

    Don't let the title or the book's cover art fool you, this is a poetry anthology that is first class. I know my wonderful, but oft juvenile husband gave me a funny look when he saw me reading this particular book, but once I read him some of my favorite poems he tamed his silly comments a wee bit.This anthology contains adult poetry, that must be stated, but it contains beuatiful verse that is well crafted and wraps you in a spell. The first selection, "The History of Our Love" made such an impact on me, that I just kept on reading the book and finished within less than an hour. Since then I've returned to some of my favorites and reread them, and they still leave me shivering.Poetry is not for everyone. I understand that some people do not grasp the fine details of how a poem is crafted. Some people expect every poem must rhyme, some want a specific pattern to the poetry they read, and some just do not like poetry at all. I respect that. Should you like poetry though, and if you love poetry, I recommend this book with high accolades.Some of me personal favorites, include, but are not limited to:"The Wind and the Boy" - "Swallowing Flies" - "Haditha" - "Silver Fox" and "Hard as Nails"

  • James
    2019-06-21 07:37

    I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.Let me start by saying that I am not one of those readers who normally spends a great deal of time trying to work out the various facets of what the poet is saying. That being said many of the poems contained in this collection did really get me thinking. There is a lot being said within the pages of this collection on many subjects. While the cover image and the title of the collection does give you the impression that contents will be sexually explicit that is not the case, Yes, there are a couple that are sexually explicit there are many that are not. Every poem within is telling the reader something that is important to the poet and as such deserves us to listen to what is being said. If you want to read something that is thought provoking and enjoyable at the same time then you would do well to take a look.

  • Danika at The Lesbrary
    2019-06-04 05:26

    The review copy of this book came with a business card from the publishing company, Zeitgeist Press, and the tagline on that card is “Poetry you can actually read”. And that is true with The Horizontal Poet, to some extent. Some of the poems are very easy to read and straightforward, while other are more abstract and difficult to follow. Many, however, are medical, describing life inside a hospital. Some of these include medical terminology completely lost on me, which made that tagline a little odd in relation to The Horizontal Poet...Read the rest of my review here:

  • Donna Allard
    2019-06-11 05:31

    May 2013It has been two months since I have read Jan Steckel's award winning book 'The Horizontal Poet'. It remains with me, it became a part of me, it is on my favourite book shelf! Deliciously sensual. A truth of beauty in all its forms. A must read!All good things,Donna AllardPast President Canadian Poetry AssociationMember Canadian Women in the Literary Arts

  • Elynn Alexander
    2019-06-13 05:30

    I wrote about this book of poetry by Jan Steckel on Litseen, in San Francisco, edited by Evan Karp."She begins by confronting the human need for intimacy straight on, in the first poem “The History Of Our Love,” and the desire to be “closer to you/than I’ve ever been.” Skeletons grinding one another into dust, pressed to chalk, the chalk a level of transience seen again in “Mermaids.” The ‘history’ of this love is written then as a product of two beings: unified, deconstructed, formless, and then merged. The skeleton is the barest self, at our most basic, and throughout The Horizontal Poet Steckel seeks to return the human form to biology. In the skeleton form, in nakedness, vulnerability and exposure become a theme explored. Here, in the context of love, but repeated again in other poems, the question is raised: Is love apart, maintaining other? Is love unconditional, forgiving? How close can we become; what can intimacy endure?" (Excerpt) Elynn Alexander, For Litseen

  • Phillip
    2019-06-22 05:15

    It is a good book. It has strong moments.

  • Jan
    2019-06-27 05:34