Police officer-turned-poet to speak at ACU

Posted March 17, 2015

Police officer-turned-poet Sarah Cortez, author of the acclaimed poetry collections How to Undress a Cop and Cold Blue Steel, will speak on the Abilene Christian University campus next week.

A public reading of her works is scheduled for Tuesday, March 24, at 8 p.m. in Hart Auditorium. Admission is free.

Local law enforcement personnel, firefighters and first responders are extended a special welcome to hear one of their own “faithfully and respectfully honor the hard work that they do for all of us," said Al Haley, ACU writer in residence and English professor.

In addition to her career as a police officer, Cortez is married to a professional firefighter.

Haley is quick to sing Cortez's praises.

“Given the ongoing media attention focused on law enforcement, we’re extremely fortunate to have someone who can put the experience of wearing the badge into words,” Haley said. “In fact, I know of no other poet in America who is writing about what it's actually like to be a police officer."  

Cortez, a native Houstonian and member of the Texas Institute of Letters, is winner of the PEN Texas literary award in poetry. In addition to her two poetry collections, she has authored or edited eight award-winning nonfiction books and appears frequently at book festivals throughout the Southwest.

Her most recent project is Goodbye, Mexico: Poems of Remembrance, an anthology containing 76 poems by 46 poets, including several Texas poet laureates, reflecting on their experiences in Mexico before the drug cartel violence changed the country so drastically (Texas Review Press, $22.95 paperback).

"Sarah is worth hearing. She's been in the squad car, knocked on the doors in the dead of night. Her poetry brings out all the emotions that come with that," Haley said. “She ‘gets’ what they do and is trying to reflect back in her poetry the difficulties, the fear, the failures, the successes, and the ongoing courage that’s required to deal with humans who are often in crisis.”

The event is sponsored by ACU’s Department of Language and Literature, Department of Political Science and a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts.



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