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