Alcoholic Betty – Elisabeth Horan

*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author and Isabelle Kenyon at Fly on the Wall Press. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*


“This is the hole. I go there
On Sundays. I go there after dinners
Before school — mid work day
After lunch with the boss Mondays

The hole has Hangover coal
To paint my face to smudge
In the acne, rosacea, colloscum”

“Alcoholic Betty, we know the story. She died. Or did she? Through the “hours of penance” that is alcoholism and its attendant chaos-math and aftermaths, recurrent false dawns and falsetto damnations, Elisabeth Horan forges a descent/ascension pendulum of fire poems that are not “a map to martyrdom” – but a call to “go nuclear – Repose. Repose.” Alcoholic Betty, we know the story. She died. She died so she could live.” – Miggy Angel, Poet, Author and Performer 

“Horan pulls no punches with this incredibly personal, raw, apologetic exposé. This is writing from the very base of the gut, which begins with the most difficult of confessions, and ends with a reformed character “standing unafraid.” A very visceral, at times moving read, where the reader shares the journey of an addict fighting their instincts and reaching for something more.” – Paul Robert Mullen, Poet

Elisabeth Horan opens her veins here and bleeds out onto the page, exposing her addiction, pain and self-loathing to the reader as part of her redemptive path of recovery.

These poems are dark, raw and very difficult to read, as Horan holds nothing back at all. She bravely explores her darkest times with us and shows the struggles – internal and external – to claw her way back from the hole of self-destruction she slid into unknowingly.

Some of the imagery here is disturbing, and it should be, as the poems deal with issues like self-harm, suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness, depression and self-hatred. Horan skewers herself repeatedly with her disgust at her actions and emotions, but in the very act of writing this ‘confession’ she also recognises the battles she fought and won and acknowledges her strength and bravery in coming this far and in owning her past honestly.

The language is very accessible, with simple punctuation, word play, and repetition of recurring themes that loop around, mirroring the cyclic patterns of both addiction and recovery.

Definitely not an easy read, but an important one – not just as part of the author’s own healing process, but for any readers struggling with similar issues and feeling alone and not understood. Elisabeth Horan has been there, pulled herself back, and offers a hand of hope to those on the same journey.

Here I go again, down the rabbit hole,

Chasing things I cannot touch,

Wrapping their oily arms around me,

Jagermeister, weed and American Spirits –

Vices I gave up years ago.

God, what I wouldn’t do for a cigarette.

– Elisabeth Horan, from ‘My Own Blair Witch’ in Alcoholic Betty

Find more from Elisabeth Horan at her website here, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Goodreads.

Alcoholic Betty is available on Amazon right now!


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