Our One-Way Street

by Rebecca Schumejda

172 Pages, 6 x 9

Library of Congress Control Number:  2017948474

ISBN:  978-1-63045-045-8

Publication Date:  10/02/2017

Press Release

HD Cover for Reviews

Cover Art:  Strange Days, Phototgraph, 2016
by Alexis Rhone Fancher  | http://www.alexisrhonefancher.com


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Our One-Way Street is a series of poetic snapshots of a working-class neighborhood and its quirky inhabitants. Schumejda zooms the lens in and out on herself as well as neighbors trying to make it through the day in hopes of a better tomorrow. Characters from Schumejda's other books take on minor roles in this collection, such as Jolene, a waitress from Waiting at the Dead End Diner and Willy the Whale, an old school pool hustler from Cadillac Men. The hero of the story, the one who is at the crux of inspiration, is the crazy, old lady from down the street, who jumps on the back of a motorcycle, puts her cupped hands over the driver's groin and tells him to head the wrong way up their one-way street.


Rebecca Schumejda's poetry is as real and vivid as the hard lives of the characters she describes and knows in her bones, in her fingers around a barroom pool cue or a diner coffee cup. In her hands a cue ball, a rosary bead, a broken tooth, a balloon, an 8-ball frozen against the rail, a stuck umbrella can tell a character's whole life story. Fascinating poetry that renders our unique human lives universal.

—Fred Voss, author of Hammers and Hearts of the God

Like the late great Studs Terkel, that chronicler of the human condition and believer in the persistence of the human heart, poet and witness Rebecca Schumejda charts the lives and voices of people who matter most but are heard from least. The characters and voices that populate Schumejda's Our One-Way Street embody the truest America—a hard place where working people work hard, but can't get by, where everyone's teetering on disaster, but still holding onto the dream that somehow, together maybe, we'll all make it out alive. In Schumejda's America, the sun shines unbiased on places that are no longer beautiful. In Schumejda's America, people struggle to make meaningful connections with one another while they struggle to keep the electricity on. The voices in Schumejda's work—widows and drug dealers, Burger King employees, and machinists, waiters who clock each day until retirement, children who paint the sky on cracked sidewalks, a poet on whom nothing is lost—are the voices of the people who go on hoping despite the world and most things in it. "If ever there were a time to write a book about hope, it's now," Stud Terkel said over a dozen years ago. And now the time is more urgent still. Thank everything for Rebecca Schumejda and this wise, honest, big-hearted book.

—Lori Jakiela, author of Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe

Let's be clear: Rebecca Schumejda's admirable poems push the envelope on what is seen as "fit" subject matter for poetry. She bravely establishes a position, a self, from which to speak in her poems as a worker, a real worker, not a political abstraction. This laboring voice goes against the grain of academic politics and aesthetics. It says workers belong at the center of their lives in poems. This voice, combined with the discernment that fuels great poetry, makes her poems singular achievements.

—Don Winter, author of Saturday Night Desperate