Book reading with Houston Poet Laureate Emeritus Leslie Contreras Schwartz and writers Saborna Roychowdhury and Stalina Villarreal.
Through intimate lyrical prose and fractured, nonlinear snapshots, From the Womb of Sky and Earth recounts a poet’s coming-of-age through a maze of abusive relationships and mental illness, woven through with glimmers of fierce love and ferocity. Punctuated by meditations on mythology and the Maya creation story, Contreras Schwartz examines the journey to hard-won autonomy, resilience, and self-discovery through motherhood.
“Leslie Contreras Schwartz’s nonfiction debut is a book of witness that refuses to look away. As Contreras Schwartz’s stunning sentences wend their ways around personal trauma and motherhood, structural racism and misogyny, bodies ill and bodies sexualized, and legendary death lords and misunderstood miracle workers, we as readers also can’t look away—it’s that magnetic, electric, incantatory. Time and again, these essays uncover the secret shared spaces between the corporeal and the ecstatic, that which we inherit, and that which we must tear down to start anew. In lending such careful lyric attention to her subjects, Contreras Schwartz’s essays become re-dedications of the so-called ‘whole stories’ of our world. This book is brilliant, beautiful, wrenching, and wholly badass.”
–Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Flight of the Diamond Smugglers
“From the Womb of Sky and Earth is a tremendous memoir, exploring everything in the world with brutal honesty motherhood, childhood, violence, the body, trauma, friendship, power. With gorgeous, evocative prose, Leslie Contreras Schwartz shows how joy and darkness reside side by side. This book is an extraordinary, necessary work about pain and the complexity of survival, a work of exploration and witness; read it now.”
–Karen E. Bender, author of Refund, 2015 National Book Award finalist
“From the Womb of Sky and Earth is haunting and visceral. Contreras Schwartz wades into deeply personal water, drawing on cultural myths and histories to navigate recollections of harm and struggle. Through swells of memory, the prose reveals ways to do more than survive. From the Womb of Sky and Earth is about learning how not to be crushed by waves of indignity; how to preserve and exalt oneself.”
–Donald Quist, author of Harbors and To Those Bounded Donald Quist