Houston Matters

How being a high school cheerleader helped writer Leslie Contreras Schwartz move beyond an abusive past

The former Houston poet laureate discusses reclaiming a sense of freedom and agency over her body and other topics from her memoir, “From the Womb of Sky and Earth.”

Leslie Contreras Schwartz with her book "From the Womb of Sky and Earth"
Former Houston poet laureate Leslie Contreras Schwartz has written a memoir about growing up with abuse and reclaiming freedom and agency over her own body.

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The book "From the Womb of Sky and Earth" by Houston poet Leslie Contreras SchwartzWriter Leslie Contreras Schwartz served as Houston's poet laureate from 2019 to 2021 and has written several collections of poetry. But her most recent work is a memoir, written in a lyrical style.

From the Womb of Sky and Earth is an exercise in reclaiming power over her life after the abuse Contreras Schwartz suffered as a child. And she tells Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty that led her to feel like abuse later in dating relationships was also normal.

She also discusses how she dealt with all the feelings attached to that as she transitioned into becoming a mother herself. And she explains how being the flier on her high school cheerleading team (aka the person thrown in the air) and later writing as well helped her gain some agency over her own destiny.

Contreras Schwartz will discuss the book at an event at Brazos Bookstore tonight at 6:30.

Writer and former Houston poet laureate Leslie Contreras Schwartz in the Houston Matters studios.
Michael Hagerty/Houston Public Media
Writer and former Houston poet laureate Leslie Contreras Schwartz in the Houston Matters studios.