IN PERSON - Thomas H. McNeely - PICTURES OF THE SHARK and Leslie Contreras Schwartz - BLACK DOVE / PALOMA NEGRA

Wednesday, July 27, 2022 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm
Brazos Bookstore--
2421 Bissonnet Street
Houston, TX 77005

Brazos Bookstore will be hosting Thomas H.McNeely and Leslie Contresras Schwartz in person on Wednesday, July 27 at 7:00 pm. 

Face Masks are required to attend the event.

Seating for this event will be limited and first-come-first-serve.

PICTURES OF THE SHARK refracts the traumas of childhood and the wages of childhood trauma in eight interlocking stories:  A sudden snowfall in Houston reveals family secrets. A trip to Universal Studios to snap a picture of the shark from Jaws becomes a battle of wills between father and son. A midnight seance and the ghost of Janis Joplin conjure the mysteries of sex. A young boy’s pilgrimage to see Elvis Presley becomes a moment of transformation.  A young woman discovers the responsibilities of talent and freedom.

“Pictures of the Shark is a profound meditation on the limits of familial love and the uncontrollable forces that shape a man’s heart. In these gorgeously crafted interlinked stories, Thomas H. McNeely demonstrates once again an uncanny ability to illuminate the darkest emotional corners of his characters with a vision that is as tender and compassionate as it is unflinching.”

—Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, author of Barefoot Dogs

BLACK DOVE - PALOMA NEGRA is resplendent in formal range, in image-richness, in music, empathy, and wisdom, the poems of BLACK DOVE/PALOMA NEGRA offer us a landscape of dissociation, of fragmentation in selfhood and in art. To fracture, these poems demonstrate, can be a wildly creative defense of the traumatized self. 'We've all cracked/in our own ways, ' Leslie Contreras Schwartz writes, and goes on to show us how, in a choir of voices--missing children, victims of sex trafficking, sex workers, border detainees, family members, and the always-hungering self. To experience this collection is to encounter the 'wild self choired, corralled in a thought box, ' where 'all of us together/can make a great sound, ' a definition of lyric poetry if there ever was one. As a fellow traveler, I am grateful for Schwartz's vision--that to name the break, to delineate the parts, is to bring forth a singular, sacred wholeness. BLACK DOVE/PALOMA NEGRA establishes an aesthetic of survival.

Thomas H. McNeely is An East End Houston native, that has published short stories in The Atlantic, Ploughshares, and many other magazines and anthologies.  His first book, Ghost Horse, was described by one reviewer "as if Cormac McCarthy and Denis Johnson teamed up to write a 1970s Texas YA novel that went off the rails somewhere—in a very, very good way."  He has received National Endowment for the Arts, Wallace Stegner, and Dobie Paisano fellowships for his fiction. He currently teaches in the Stanford Online Writing Studio and at Emerson College, Boston.

Leslie Contreras Schwartz is a multi-genre writer, a 2021 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow, and was the 2019-2021 Houston Poet Laureate. She is the author of four collections of poetry, including Black Dove / Paloma Negra (FlowerSong Press, 2020), which was named a finalist for the Helen C. Smith Memorial Award for 2020 Best Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters. 

Her work has appeared in AGNI, Missouri Review, Iowa Review, [PANK], Verse Daily, Pleiades, Zocalo Public Square, Gulf Coast, and Houston Noir (Akashic Books, 2019). Recent work has been featured with the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day.

She has collaborated or been commissioned for poetic projects with the City of Houston, the Houston Grand Opera, and The Moody Center of the Arts at Rice University. Her poet laureate community work includes writing a workshop resource book on mindfulness and writing, and producing a communal poetry video from poems submitted by Houstonians about their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contreras Schwartz is currently a poetry and nonfiction faculty member at Alma College's MFA low-residency program in creative writing. For more on her work, visit


Pictures of the Shark: Stories By Thomas H. McNeely Cover Image
ISBN: 9781680032710
Availability: BACKORDERED
Published: Texas Review Press - July 29th, 2022

Black Dove/Paloma Negra By Leslie Contreras Schwartz Cover Image
ISBN: 9781953447753
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Flowersong Press - November 21st, 2020