Reclamation and Recovery
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Published in: March-April 2023 issue.


A Lyric Essay
by Lars Horn
Graywolf Press. 240 pages, $16.


AUTHOR LARS HORN writes in Voice of the Fish: “Past a certain age, my own reflection became increasingly difficult to look at. So, I didn’t. I looked out. Around. At others. Animals. Trees. Anything not myself.” Looking outside themself—the author uses they/them pronouns—is one of the primary ways in which Horn makes this lyric essay, as the book is aptly subtitled, a superb achievement.

            Along with autobiographical memories, Horn offers signposts in the form of stories, references, and quotations from a wide range of sources. What they have to do with Horn’s life isn’t obvious at first. In time, they form the structure upon which the author builds and shapes their discoveries about who they are, or at least who they may be at any given time. This book-length essay consists of observation and epigraph as intimate history. The interpolations create breaks and rhythmic shifts that serve as intellectual context for the personal narrative. They divert our gaze away from Horn toward poetry, history, theology, myth, and science, always bringing the reader back to the author’s thorny experience of self.

     Horn, who identifies as queer and transmasculine, was raised by a woman who was a conceptual artist first and a mother second. Frequently mistaken for a man, their mother

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Thomas Keith is the author of Robert Burns’s Life on the Stage (2022).