IN PERSON - Leslie Contreras Schwartz - FROM THE WOMB OF SKY AND EARTH

Wednesday, January 24, 2024 - 6:30pm
Brazos Bookstore --
2421 Bissonnet Street
Houston, TX 77005-1451

Brazos Bookstore welcomes Leslie Contreras Schwartz in-store on Wednesday, January 24 at 6:30 p.m.  Ms. Schwartz will be in conversation with Dr. José Aranda. 

Through intimate lyrical prose and fractured, nonlinear snapshots, From the Womb of Sky and Earth (C&R Press, 2023) recounts the writer’s transformation through a maze of experiences centered on the body: abusive relationships, sickness, mental illness, friendship, and motherhood—all leading to hard-won autonomy and self-discovery. Woven through with glimmers of fierce love and ferocity and punctuated by meditations on monstrous women and the Maya creation story, Contreras Schwartz charts the story of a woman’s evolving body and how she inhabits the world.

“Leslie Contreras Schwartz’s nonfiction debut is a book of witness that refuses to look away. As Contreras Schwartz’s stunning sentences wend their way 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

Leslie Contreras Schwartz is a multi-genre writer, a 2021 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow, and the 2019-2021 Houston Poet Laureate. She is the winner of the C&R Press 2022 Nonfiction Prize for From the Womb of Sky and Earth, a lyrical memoir. She is the author of five collections of poetry, including Black Dove / Paloma Negra (FlowerSong Press, 2020), a finalist for 2020 Best Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters; and Nightbloom & Cenote (St. Julian Press, 2018), a semi-finalist for the 2017 Tupelo Press Dorset Prize, judged by Ilya Kaminsky. Her work has appeared in AGNI, Catapult, EPOCH, Gulf Coast, Gulf Coast, Missouri Review, Pleiades, Zocalo Public Square, and the anthology Houston Noir (Akashic Books, 2019), as well as 2019 The Best Small Fiction anthology. Recent work has been featured with the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day and the Poetry Foundation. She has collaborated or been commissioned for community poetry projects with the Academy of American Poets, the City of Houston, the Houston Grand Opera, and The Moody Center of the Arts at Rice University. Contreras Schwartz is currently a poetry and nonfiction faculty member at Alma College's MFA low-residency program in creative writing, and a lecturer in creative writing at Rice University. She is a graduate of The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and earned a bachelor's at Rice University. For more on her work, visit


José F. Aranda Jr. is a professor of Chicanx and American literature at Rice University. He is the author of The Places of Modernity in Early Mexican American Literature, 1848–1948 and When We Arrive: A Literary History of Mexican America. José Aranda holds a dual appointment in the Department of English and the Department of Modern and Classical Literatures and Cultures. He is the founding director of Rice’s Program in Latin American Studies and also serves as the coordinator for the Mellow Undergraduate Fellowships. He has written articles on nineteenth-century Mexican American literature and the Recovery Project, the future of Chicano/a Studies, and on the relationship between modernity and Mexican American writers from 1848 to 1948. Currently, he is working on a book, tentatively entitled Why I Dreamed of Jeannie But Became a Chicano Instead. This book is a critical exploration of television, popular culture, the Vietnam War, and the news media and the subsequent roles they played in shaping the political and cultural identities of the first generation of Mexican American children to be hailed by the Chicano Movement.

From the Womb of Sky and Earth By Leslie Contreras Schwartz Cover Image
ISBN: 9781949540437
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: C&r Press - September 15th, 2023