Poetry in Motion: Leah Horlick

March 9, 2021

In her third collection of poetry  Moldovan Hotel, Leah Horlick invites readers to consider the intergenerational trauma of the Holocaust in Romania and to explore what we think we understand about genocide and displacement. Read on for more about the collection and to hear Leah read "You Are My Hiding Place" from her book, out April 1st from Brick Books.

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Moldovan Hotel is Leah Horlick's third collection of poetry, following her 2015 release For Your Own Good, which was named a Stonewall Honor Book by the American Library Association and excerpted in Carmen Maria Machado's acclaimed memoir, In the Dream House. After highlighting the stigmatized topic of sexual violence between queer women in her previous work, Horlick explores intergenerational and ancestral trauma in this new collection. As she becomes the first woman in her family to return to Romania since the Holocaust, she invites the reader to revisit what we think we understand about genocide, displacement, and loss. 

Through epigraphs and interstitial text, Moldovan Hotel focuses on a part of the Holocaust obscured by contemporary denial, late Communist regimes, and historic imperialism, while drawing connections to anti-Islamophobia, migrant justice, and Palestinian solidarity movements. These poems navigate language loss, shame, and the tension of a “return” without romanticization, fully inhabiting the epigenetic and immediate risks of visiting an unfamiliar country after displacement. Each section of the text is an opportunity to re-sensitize ourselves to how layers of the past can unsettle and inform our myriad present moments.

Moldovan Hotel 's emphasis on the felt experience of reconnection is an invitation to re-examine how and what we learn about mass genocide, balancing archival research with an intimate voice. At a time when antisemitism and conspiracy theories threaten the public health and safety of our communities on a global level, Moldovan Hotel is both a haunting ancestral possession and a powerful invocation of possible futures. Teachers, students, and book clubs can explore Moldovan Hotel with a readers’ guide, and celebrate the launch on March 16 together with Larissa Lai’s Iron Goddess of Mercy (Arsenal Pulp Press), hosted by Vivek Shraya and Shelf Life Books.


Below is a video of Leah Horlick reading a poem entitled "You Are My Hiding Place" from Moldovan Hotel, out April 1. 


In this video, Leah Horlick reads a poem facing the camera. She is a light-skinned person of mixed Jewish heritage, wearing a black dress with flowers around the neckline. She has long brown hair, red lipstick, and a silver nose ring.



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Leah Horlick grew up as a settler on Treaty Six Cree territory and the homelands of the Métis in Saskatchewan. Her first collection of poetry, Riot Lung (Thistledown Press, 2012) was shortlisted for both a ReLit Award and a Saskatchewan Book Award. In 2016 she won the Dayne Ogilvie Prize, Canada's only award for LGBT emerging writers. That same year, her second collection, For Your Own Good (Caitlin Press, 2015), was named a Stonewall Honor Title by the American Library Association. In 2018, her piece "You Are My Hiding Place" was named Poem of the Year by ARC Poetry Magazine and shortlisted for inclusion in the 44th Pushcart Prize by the Pushcart Board of Editors. She lives in Calgary.




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Preorder Moldovan Hotel here on All Lit Up.

And for even more Poetry in Motion, click here.







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