For Your Own Good

Leah Horlick

In the canon of contemporary feminist and lesbian poetry, For Your Own Good breaks silence. A fictionalized autobiography, the poems in this collection illustrate the narrator’s survival of a domestic and sexual violence in a lesbian relationship. There is magic in this work: the symbolism of the Tarot and the roots of Jewish heritage, but also the magic that is at the heart of transformation and survival.

These poems are acutely painful, rooted in singular and firsthand experiences. But Horlick also draws from a legacy of feminist, Jewish and lesbian writers against violence: epigraphs from the works of Adrienne Rich and Minnie Bruce Pratt act as touchstones alongside references to contemporary writers, such as Daphne Gottlieb and Michelle Tea.

In this reflection on grief, silence and community, we follow the narrator’s own journey as she explores what it is to survive, to change, to desire and to hope. At once unflinching and fragile, For Your Own Good is a collection with transformation at its heart.

“Leah Horlick’s For Your Own Good may be the best book of poetry to come out of Canada this year.”

–Michael Dennis

“Reading Leah Horlick’s collection, I felt a sense of relief. Finally, we’re here. Finally, we’re talking about this.”

–Mette Bach, Plenitude magazine

“It is not often that a collection of poems can be read like a book; For Your Own Good will grab you by the collar and demand consumption. It is a page turner in the most literal sense of the term… readers will venture through the narrator’s experiences with enough ease to make it consumable and enough complication to leave room for thought and interpretation. The more you read, the more you want to read. You will feel what she feels. You will want for her to heal, but you will know she may not.  You will find solace in her escape, but you will feel the anguish of her past as it remains in her present. But, still, you read because you are invested in her journey.”

–Emily McGaughy, After Ellen

“Arresting poems…[these] impassioned but meditative pieces explore uneven power dynamics and the confused interior life of the solitary young woman who blames herself and is trying to make sense of a suddenly restrictive and harmful relationship.”

–Brett Josef Grubisic, Xtra West

“Sometimes it feels as though there are Poems About Important Issues and Good Poems, and the two camps rarely meet. For Your Own Good is a startling combination of the two, skillful poems both defiant and self-aware, and close to my femme heart. We need this book.”

–Zoe Whittall, Holding Still for as Long as Possible

“‘Magic,’ which is the title of one of the poems in this collection, is a word I’d use to describe Leah Horlick’s work. Each piece takes us through a transmutation–from frightened girl to woman, from lover to abuser, from audience to performer, from alone to beloved. Horlick doesn’t back away from hard realities, deep longing or fierce desire, and drapes language around them like fitted silk–revealing and reflecting.”

–Jewelle Gomez, author of Waiting for Giovanni

‘These poems are beautiful. Solid and glittering as ice or crystal, they hold secrets and hard truths in their core. The wonder and lushness of Horlick’s voice imparts a loveliness to countless hidden tragedies, never sugaring them but bearing an elegant, whispering witness.”

–Michelle Tea, author of How to Grow Up

“Leah Horlick’s most recent collection of poetry is a beautiful rendering of grief, love and survival. This poignant poetic offering left me feeling the sensitive grace of her words long after I finished reading. The way she weaves stories into poetry is both haunting and powerful, elegant and unsettling. While reading, I had to keep reminding myself to breathe!”

–Lishai Peel, author of Why Birds and Wolves Don’t Trade Stones

“Horlick brings domestic violence to the foreground within the lgbt community and places a mirror on the bathroom counter and forces us to grab it and when we find ourselves as victim, we cannot turn away until we are healed … Thank you, Leah, for sharing your love story, your survival story, the story where you died and then came back to us, again.”

— Vanesa Evers, Lambda Literary

2016 Stonewall Honor book in the Barbara Gittings Literature Award category

2016 Goldie Finalist (Golden Crown Literary Society)