Gender Artist

A mother's poems about raising a queer child in a straight world

by Lee Schwartz

Publication Year: 2021

Winner of the 2021 Independent Publishers' Association of New England (IPNE) Award for Best Book of Poetry!

At once brilliant and brave, tender and gut-raw, Lee Schwartz’s Gender Artist explores and documents a mother's response to her child’s gender transformation. These are poems that shatter and satisfy, convincing us that the deeply-examined life is the only kind worth living. Gender Artist is a must-read!

—Robin Greene, author of Shelf Life of Fire & Real Birth, Women Share Their Stories

Praise for Gender Artist:

Schwartz uncovers the hard-fought fullness of herself as the mother of someone “not he or she, but all of it.” Each poem unlocks a new door, leading us down an unexpected passageway of struggle and understanding

–Susie Kaufman, retired hospice chaplain and author of Twilight Time: Aging in Amazement (Wipf and Stock). 


In Lee Schwartz’s storied poems one gender artist is the child “trekking out to pitcher’s plate, / leaving her cello on the floor,” while the other is the mother, who goes on to find “the man in me.” This mother shudders and marvels as her daughter “becomes a man” –– her “child as Houdini on ‘Who am I?’ day” in second grade. Packed with similes and metaphors, these are startling poems that will linger and foment. 

–Elaine Sexton, author of Prospect/Refuge



Lee Schwartz About the Author


Born in Brooklyn, Lee Schwartz is a lifelong New Yorker. She graduated with advanced degrees from New York University and has never left Greenwich Village. She studied with Sharon Olds; Frida Kahlo is another mentor. Lee is a two-time winner of the Allen Ginsberg Paterson Literary Prize and served as Artist in Residence at the 92nd St Y in NYC. She has work in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves (Oxford University Press), Writing Fire (Green Fire Press) and many journals.

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