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Leah Horlick becomes the university’s new writer-in-residence 

By Eula Mengullo, October 14 2022

The Calgary Distinguished Writer’s Program welcomes poet, Leah Horlick, as the university’s new writer-in-residence for 2022/2023 year.

Horlick is passionate about telling stories that may have been silenced by multiple systemic factors, either in publishing or in the community. Her award-winning literary work has focused on her own experience as a queer individual, as well as explorations of her Jewish heritage. 

Aside from her literary endeavours, Horlick is also devoted to the community. Along with a friend, she ran a low-barrier, anti-oppresive reading series in Vancouver to create a safe and accessible space for queer and trans writers who were also people of colour, and may or may not be living with disabilities. 

In an interview with the Gauntlet, Horlick expresses her excitement and enthusiasm about joining the residency. In speaking about the inspiration behind her work and engagement with the community, Horlick reminisced on her aspiration of wanting a safe and comfortable reading space for queer individuals like herself. 

“When we were starting REVERB [my friend and I] talked about how we wished we had a reading series where we felt really comfortable and welcome,” said Horlick. “Creating that [welcoming, comfortable] space when it’s possible, is really important to me.”

She also draws on the uniqueness of poetry as a literary device in not only telling a story, but also connecting with individuals.

“I often have a hard time, like a lot of us, talking about my feelings or my experiences, and poetry and writing is a great way to do that because you just get a little bit of distance,” said Horlick. “And you don’t have to make it make sense. You can tell a story in a few number of words, describe an experience without a plot and connect with more people in a way that can be really hard when you’re speaking about yourself in nonfiction, or if you’re writing a memoir.”

Although she will also be working on some writing projects during her tenure, community engagement is one aspect of the residency that Horlick anticipates the most. 

She urges everyone in the community to book a manuscript consultation and get in touch, regardless of wherever they are in their writing process.

“We’ll also run some excellent free public community events, which is beautiful because literary events can be quite expensive. So I’m really excited to work with libraries and community organizations in Calgary that work with writers who are like me, who faced some barriers to publication and performance, and get to connect with as many people as possible,“ said Horlick.

“I’m just as excited to be focusing on the community engagement part of the residency and I really hope to meet with people who are at all stages of [their] artistic or writing career,” she added.

Horlick will be present at the annual Hello/Goodbye event set to take place on Oct. 17. The event will include readings from Horlick as well as outgoing writer-in-residence, Teresa Wong. 

This is a free event hosted online and in-person. It will feature professionally captioned livestream for those tuning in via Facebook, while there are plenty of accessibility measures in place for those attending in-person. 

More details for the event and how to sign up can be found on the U of C website. To learn more about Horlick and her work, visit the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program.

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