Even before age five, I remember being in love with
the written word. At that time, my mother was an elementary school teacher, and she hand-made my first books, sewing the binding
with white thread on her sewing machine. I hadn't yet entered kindergarten but how I loved those books with only a few words
and large pictures that she had crafted for me.
Various other people unknowingly made sweet and caring
contributions to my childhood love of writing. One of my dad's older sisters and I wrote and mailed little letters to each
other. Even though she was married and busy with her own teaching career, she always wrote back to me. During one of the rare
trips to her home, she showed me the special box where she kept all my letters tied up in satin ribbon. I was overwhelmed
-- I was important and what I wrote was important to someone.
Through other various careers (e.g. high school teacher,
tax accountant, employee benefits consultant) I still carried the dream to be a writer. In the late 1980's I took several
courses from the University of Houston's Creative Writing department. At that point, I was fascinated by the short story and
focused on writing in that form. Several pieces were published in literary journals or anthologized.
In 1992 I began writing poetry. To this day I have
no idea what changed the focus of my writing. Every time I sat down to write, poetry came out on the page, not fiction.
Several years went by in my policing career before
I began writing about police work. The first poem in that subject area was "Rosie Working Plain Clothes" -- a humorous
piece. Many of the later poems touch on death or things that are worse. It is my hope that some of these poems will spark
understanding in civilians of the incredible paradoxes police officers have to deal with and work under on a daily basis.
Law, justice, mercy -- they're all imperfect. Police officers work with these imperfections every day or night, then go home,
and try not to get eaten up by them.
To date, I have won the 1999 PEN Texas Literary Award
in Poetry and placed semi-finalist in the 2000 Fourteenth Annual Louisiana Literature Prize for Poetry. I have also been awarded
the position of Visiting Scholar in the University of Houston's Center for Mexican American Studies for an unprecedented two
consecutive years (1999-2001).”
According to the book description
of Tired, Hungry, and Standing
in One Place for Twelve Hours:
Essential Cop Essays, “Over
twenty years ago, Sarah Cortez left a
flourishing corporate career to strap
on a gun, and police the streets.
Transitioning from designer heels and
a high-rise office to a low-bid,
agency-owned Crown Vic wasn’t easy,
but it delivered exactly what she
desired. In these highly-charged
personal reflections, Cortez reveals
the complicated machinery of a cop’s
heart, mind, and soul by dissecting
the differences between cops and
civilians. A must-read to understand
the intangibles demanded by
patience, and a belief in
justice—despite the grimy backdrop
where life can become death in an
to the book description of Cold Blue Steel, it “contains fifty lyric poems set in the world
of the urban street cop in Houston, the nation’s fourth largest metropolis. In the patrol car, at scenes of suicides
and DOAs, in the overtime reality of aching feet and sweating torsos, the reader experiences the hard realities and unexpected
luminosities of doing America’s most dangerous job.”
According to the book description of
How to Undress a Cop: Poems, “It's not every book of poetry that includes an "Ode to
Body Armor." But then, it's not every poet whose experience in academia includes a stint at the police academy. The poems
of Sarah Cortez are tough-minded, verbally supple, and often deeply erotic. And each of these fifty lyric poems displays her
many facets: the street smarts of a law enforcement officer, the bilingual vocabulary of a proud Mexican American; the linguistic
dexterity of an erstwhile Latin teacher; and the frank sensuality of a strong and spirited woman.”
One reader of How to Undress a Cop: Poems said, “Sarah
Cortez is a poet, teacher, and cop in Houston, Texas. Her work is tough, sensual, and very sexual. Her job as a cop and her
Latina heritage flavor her poems. This is a beautiful piece of work from a poet who has a lot of potential to be great. She
has the flavor of those 'bad girl' poets (like Kim Addonizio, Dorianne Laux, and their matriarch-Edna St. Vincent Millay).
This is a strong collection, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.”
One reader of How to Undress
a Cop: Poems said, “whoa...this book is soooo hot, it could scorch your fingers....not many poets can
mix erotica with police work and pull it off without making it seem schlocky...in fact, I don't think I’ve ever read
a book like this...rather than cloud her poems with ambiguities, she tell you straight up about what it's like being a cop,
a woman, and a Mexican American in America, sometimes, all three at the same time...she can make a poem about wearing a bulletproof
vest interesting...what i love ( and i mean love ! ) about these poems, is she shows you her world without the taint of political
correctness, which i think is the worst thing that has ever happened to art, because it has kept people from saying what they
really mean...you see her frustrations as a cop, when she realizes she can't win every battle; the men she works with as she
tries to gain their respect...her own struggles in her personal life as she loves men of brown and white shade and possible
not a man at all? after reading this book. I respect her for the job she does, and for showing her sensuality unabashed on
According to the book description of
Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery, “In Lucha Corpi's story, ''Hollow Point at the Synapses,''
her unique narrator a bullet describes the instant before killing a young Peruvian woman: ''I feel the pull of the hammer.
The pressure mounts. I am now in place. The moment is upon me. Swiftly and efficiently, I will do what I must, what I was
created for. In an instant, I am off, traveling at a speed reserved only for death.''
This groundbreaking anthology of short
fiction by Latino mystery writers, Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery, features an intriguing and unpredictable cast of
sleuths, murderers and crime victims. Reflecting the authors' and society's preoccupation with identity, self, and territory,
the stories run the gamut of the mystery genre, from traditional to noir, from the private investigator to the police procedural,
and even a ''chick lit'' mystery.
''The Right Profile'' features a Miami
private investigator who goes undercover to prove a deadbeat father can pay child support, and she delights in testifying
against him in court. In ''The Skull of Pancho Villa,'' someone has stolen the family heirloom and it's up to Gus Corral to
get it back. And in ''A New York Chicano,'' a successful bachelor from El Paso a graduate of NYU working for Merrill Lynch
in Manhattan gets his revenge against a xenophobic newscaster.
Hit List collects for the first time
short fiction by many of the Latino authors who have been pioneers in the mystery genre, using it to showcase their unique
cultures, neighborhoods and realities. Contributors include award-winning writers such as Carolina Garcia-Aguilera, Alicia
Gaspar de Alba, Rolando Hinojosa, Manuel Ramos and Sergio Troncoso, as well as emerging writers who deserve more recognition.”