LESLIE CONTRERAS SCHWARTZ

So call all thriving things illegal: / The magnolia tree, its roots, / That vast network of veins that feed itself / And others like it in dry soil, / Pushes space through concrete sidewalks / To breathe.

-- From "Every Thing Is Illegal," Nightbloom & Cenote

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One of the miracles of Schwartz's collection is an almost-unearthly, tonal quiet:  in the midst of violence, or not, and against the terror of the diurnal is the counter-force of incredulity, the unlikeliness of it all:  life, the zygote that becomes you or me, and its corollary, the fledgling that falls dead from its nest or the daughter, trying to learn her letters and, too young, to write a story like her mother, despairing, as if may never ever happen. 

 

There's not a perpetual forgiveness of sins in Nightbloom & Cenote –– there are limits. But just as the title itself is astounding –– the rarest of flowers on the one hand and the most despicable doom of young girls on the other –– that perpetual balancing act in the book is something Schwartz manages with the utmost deftness and gentleness. One would not expect "gentleness" in such a collection, yet it lies at the heart.

--Tom Simmons, author of Now

 

Coming Winter 2018

 

from St. Julian Press