Skull + Wind Press is impossibly excited to announce that we will be publishing current Houston Poet Laureate Leslie Contreras Schwartz’s third collection Who Speaks for Us Here in Spring 2020!
Leslie Contreras Schwartz is the fourth Houston Poet Laureate, serving from 2019-2021. Of her second book Nightbloom & Cenote (St. Julian Press, 2018), a semi-finalist for the 2017 Tupelo Press Dorset Prize, judged by Ilya Kaminsky, Jenn Givhan said:
Nightbloom & Cenote sifts into the dirt beneath the cracks of girlhood, uncovers a retribution of generations, of family and of birth and misfortune of daughters unloved and unprotected, from the ever-unfolding story of patriarchy and its brutality, and sings of survival in the midst of all that violence. Sinuous as vines and gleaming as nightblooms, these poems tangle and snake and take the generational blame, the guilt reserved for us girls who grow into women, and finally break the cycle, finally crack the sidewalks we girls/women have been buried under all these years.
Schwartz, with her lyrical prowess, sings us to safety: “we will run out / this run belongs to us / both out that door with the baby and all her future babies and we will find all your sisters / my mother and hers.” These poems are steeped in culture and myth, are lush with the landscape of survival, are the voices of mothers and our mothering forebears who braid our hair and hold us as we weep, who teach us how, once our tears are dry, to fight back.
According to the Houston Chronicle, in her first book Fuego (St. Julian Press, 2016) "[Contreras Schwartz] doesn't use words to smooth over life's edges.” The reviewer goes on to call Fuego “a collection of clear, crisp poems that tangle directly with the stuff of life."
In 2018 Contreras Schwartz was a featured poet for the Houston Poetry Fest and she is an active member of the Macondo Writers' Workshop.
Her third collection Who Speaks for Us Here, examines the individual versus public bodies and documents narratives of those usually silenced, including people with mental illness, sex workers, women who are trafficked, and children in custody.
Contreras Schwartz’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Iowa Review, Pleiades, The Missouri Review, The Collagist, [PANK], Verse Daily, Catapult, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Her fiction can be found in Houston Noir, edited by Gwendolyn Zepeda (Akashic Press, May 2019).
A graduate of The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and Rice University, Contreras Schwartz is a poetry editor at Four Way Review and works as a lecturer at the University of Houston.
To support the publication of Who Speaks for Us Here, we humbly request you visit our Fractured Atlas fundraiser. If you select our $25 perk package or a perk package of $75+, you can not only ensure the publication of Who Speaks for Us Here and our other S+W titles, but can, in essence, preorder Who Speaks for Us Here!
Help us welcome Leslie to the S+W fam by donating, sharing, and spreading the word!
And here are some links to poems in Who Speaks for Us Here: