“More than twenty years ago, I left a flourishing corporate career to strap on a gun, wear a badge, and police the streets. Transitioning from Italian high heels and a gleaming high-rise to the interior of a low-bid, threadbare Crown Victoria was exactly what I wanted—and had eagerly anticipated. The price was high—a radical pay cut, a divorce, loss of social status—but not unexpected. It is the best thing I’ve ever done.”
Joining the ranks of the Thin Blue Line was a decision that author-cop and Rice graduate Sarah Cortez has never regretted. Now, after 24 years of experience in both state and county agencies, she brings every reader inside the police car with her and into havoc of street policing.
From Altruistic Rookie to Hardened Veteran.
In Tired, Hungry, Standing in One Spot for Twelve Hours: Essential Cop Essays, Ms. Cortez leads us from her unsettling decision to change her entire life, leaving behind successful corporate America and entering the Police Academy—a decision based in part on the need to find greater satisfaction from the intrinsic value of her work. Likely she aced the academic part of the training, but even the realities of dirty lavatories, uncompromising instructors and Houston’s mean, sweaty streets did not make her think twice about her decision. The essays share her path from the altruistic rookie to hardened veteran. Even as that path grew to include a successful editing and writing career, she still worked in street policing. The hardened veteran’s view makes her job of law enforcement more effective. And the skills of policing: observation, clear-thinking, attention to detail, make her a better writer and editor.
“In my 25 years of law enforcement service, I have come to recognize true knowledge in law enforcement, and Mrs. Cortez’s writing is definitely “the real deal.”
— Assistant Chief Kenneth Key Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office
“Cortez has caught the essence of what it means to be a police officer with its “endless boredoms and dirt . . . its tiny, stark terrors” and the “hidden rewards of intense camaraderie, sense of mission, and the fulfillments of justice and duty.” She has explained the unexplainable in a fascinating read without flinching and with the eye of a poet.”
— T.K. Thorne, retired police captain and award-winning author of “Angels at the Gate”
“Cortez’ writing will resonate with law enforcement professionals—from the adrenaline-inspiring memories of the police academy to the everyday chaotic scenes of crime-fighting. The best features of her writing are her authentic voice, her passion about the “calling” of police work, and the concise language she utilizes—as only a gifted writer can. This book is a good reminder to all of us of why we wanted to be police officers in the first place.”
— Lt. Betsy Randolph, Oklahoma Highway Patrol
“Tired, Hungry, Standing in One Spot for Twelve Hours: Essential Cop Essays transports her readers into the world of law enforcement. A veteran police office, Cortez has spent 24 years in law enforcement working everything from undercover assignments to sexual assault investigations and crime prevention. Cortez is a Councilor of Texas Institute of Letters whose poems, essays and short stories have been published in numerous journals and magazines.”
— JoAnn Holt, Focus Daily News
Format: Paperback: 100 pages
Publisher: Texas Review Press
Pub. Date: April 2018
COLD BLUE STEEL
Finalist, 2014 Writer's League of Texas Poetry Award.
Finalist, 2015 Pen Southwest Poetry Award
Cold Blue Steel contains 50 lyric poems set in the world of the urban street cop in the nation's fourth largest metropolis, Houston.
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.
Sarah Cortez has over 20 years of police experience, which was reflected in her first book of poetry, How to Undress a Cop (Arte Publico Press, 2000). That book was shocking, sexy, and tough. Tempered by experience, Cold Blue Steel has more pathos and the stunning complexity of trying to do an impossible job.
Cold Blue Steel is segmented into three parts. Showing Rookies How it Quickly Happens speaks to hard-earned procedures Cortez wishes to impart to her rookies. At the same time, she ironically reflects on who will be promoted and the why or why not. The Inches That Matter to Me speaks to what keeps cops alive and to what kills them. Feeling Too Much, At Times reflects on the innocent victims, silent witnesses, and the necessary dependence on the dispatcher’s voice. Throughout, the reader experiences the hard realities and unexpected luminosities of doing America’s most dangerous job.
“...Cortez provides a unique perspective on the front lines of law enforcement in Houston. In this, her second book of poetry, Cortez employs frank language in sharp lyrics charged with weary passion. From frustrating court proceedings to beat cops’ street patrols to locker room flirtation, her speakers express disdain for bureaucratic laziness, lust for fellow officers (and tatted-up criminals!), and fatigue after every autopsy. But Cortez enlivens her lines with a deft blend of rhythm and police shorthand, as when her speaker pities a “tall white-boy LT / assigned to Investigations / since he was too /incompetent / for Patrol.” Other poems exhibit an intriguing edge of hard-boiled noir and sense of duty in the face of futility. Elsewhere, Cortez brandishes a mean humor, as when the speaker of “Reported Dog Pack” finds herself in hot pursuit of a bitch in heat, a trio of male dogs panting close behind.”
—Diego Báez in Booklist, July 2013
Format: Trade Paperback, 80 pages
Publisher: Texas Review Press
Pub. Date: 2013
HOW TO UNDRESS A COP
Poems included in the collection have been awarded the PEN Texas Literary Award.
Synopsis: 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.
“And you thought there was no poetry in police work! This dazzling collection . . . is an entrancing literary quickie…”
— Latina Magazine
“Full of hard-edged description and fast-flowing narratives ... By turns erotic, tender, and gritty ... Powerfully direct.”
— Publishers Weekly
ISBN: 1-55885-301-4ISBN-13: 978-1-55885-301-0
Format: Trade Paperback, 80 pages
Publisher: Arte Publico Press
Pub. Date: September 2000