Poetry Reading with Leslie Contreras Schwartz and ire'ne lara silva: August 14
Join us for a poetry reading of the debut collection of poems, FUEGO, by Leslie Contreras Schwartz, along with a reading by fellow poet ire'ne lara silva.
From the bed of the hospital, to the classroom of fourth-grade refugees, or the icy waters being swum by a long-distance swimmer, Fuego is a book that explores the extraordinary in the ordinary, the body as a surreal form of existence. At the core of the book is the theme of survival and the awe at being able to survive, and the glory of being ordinary and alive. In this debut poetry collection, Fuego explores the failure and blessing of childhood, the surrealism of birth and motherhood, and the estrangement of the body from itself and others.
“Leslie Contreras Schwartz doesn’t use words to smooth over life’s edges. Instead, she writes about the jagged parts directly: the struggle of difficult pregnancies, the trials and joys of motherhood, the horrors she saw in her students’ lives when she briefly taught fourth grade. (This is) a collection of clear, crisp poems that tangle directly with the stuff of life.”
“Fuego is full of fire, of the passionate intensity of creation in the face of great odds—the intensity of difficult pregnancies and childbirth and all-consuming motherhood, of the immigrant student who struggles to write his first sentences in English, the child who falls from her bike and gets up again and again, the long-distance swimmer trying to swim to Antarctica, all of them stand-ins, I think, for the artist who struggles to make something meaningful from language in the midst of life, which is to say in the midst of death. This Leslie Contreras Schwartz has done in her debut collection, and hers is a distinctive and welcome new voice in American poetry.”
–Susan Wood, Gladys Louise Fox Professor Emerita of English at Rice University, author of Asunder, National Poetry Series selection 2001
Leslie Contreras Schwartz holds an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College and a BA in English from Rice University, where she won the Academy of American Poets’ College & University Prize in 2001. Her poetry has appeared or is upcoming in Pebble Lake Review, Southern Women’s Review, Storyscape Literary Journal, “Improbable Worlds: An Anthology of Texas and Louisiana Poets” by Mutabilis Press, and other publications, and her essays have appeared in the Houston Chronicle, Ozy, Huffington Post and Dame Magazine. Her first collection of poems, Fuego, was published by Saint Julian Press in March 2016. She works as a writer, teacher, and editor in Houston.
ire’ne lara silva is the author of furia (poetry, Mouthfeel Press, 2010) which received an Honorable Mention for the 2011 International Latino Book Award and flesh to bone (short stories, Aunt Lute Books, 2013) which won the 2013 Premio Aztlan. Her most recent collection of poetry, blood sugar canto, was published by Saddle Road Press in January 2016.
ire’ne is the recipient of the 2014 Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award, the Fiction Finalist for AROHO’s 2013 Gift of Freedom Award, and the 2008 recipient of the Gloria Anzaldua Milagro Award.