ISBN: 978-1-62557-086-4
Categories Nomadic, Poetry

Las Piedrecitas

Publication Date: June 2024


In June of 2023, Black Lawrence Press welcomed numerous existing and forthcoming Nomadic Press titles to our catalogue. Las Piedrecitas was originally selected for publication by Nomadic.


The poems in Noelia Cerna’s beautiful, debut poetry collection, Las Piedrecitas, sing. They sing in English and Spanish; they sing of her childhood and Nicaraguan heritage; they sing of brown bodies and immigrant hands thickened by work and struggle; they sing of hope and redemption and survival. Cerna’s poetry does not warble, it projects in an unflinching voice that tackles themes such as prescribed gender roles, addiction, domestic violence, familial estrangement and racism in a country where “whiteness requires you to fold to the point of breaking.” These poems proclaim their truth in an indignant chorus that refuses to fold, refuses to break, and refuses to stay silent for one more minute.

—Caridad Moro-Gronlier, author of Tortillera and Visionware

Do the longings of migration and displacement have a musicality? The verses in Las Piedrecitas are acts of close listening—across language, across space, across time, across embodiment. To read them is to share in that listening, itself a practice that the collection’s many speakers learn to do in struggle and in jubilance. The music here resounds because it refuses to dwell at the pitch of trauma, the tone of crisis that so often gets carelessly attached to brownness. Cerna attends carefully to las piedrecitas, the very pebbles of experience that are not always hard or coarse but sometimes “soft enough…to just exist.” These ambivalences are dignified rather than disavowed, silence and rest as poignant as the noise of living. That living, Cerna sings, can be thriving.

—Travis Chi Wing Lau, author of the The Bone Setter, Paring, and Vagaries

Noelia Cerna’s poetry collection Las Piedrecitas powerfully weaves together family, place, culture, grief, and resilience. In poems at once tender and fierce, Cerna uplifts and encourages readers alongside shy brown girls who have forgotten our worth, callers to the suicide hotline where the speaker works, and we who’ve experienced loss—of homeland, of a parent’s regard, of a soulmate, and other, everyday injuries. These poems are a “reclaiming from all those who reduced [us] to nothing more than [our] winters”—for we who are “learning to love [our] skin in ways [we] couldn’t before.” Cerna, a wise and generous storyteller as well as a skilled poet, invites us into her world, richly textured and nuanced, and allows us, ultimately, to be healed alongside her speakers. A gorgeous collection.

—Jenn Givhan, author of Belly to the Brutal and River Woman, River Demon

About the Author

© Brandon Watts of B. Watts Photography

Noelia Cerna

Noelia Cerna is a Latina poet based in Springdale, AR. She was born in Costa Rica and immigrated to the United States at the age of 7 where she received a Bachelor’s degree in English from Westminster College in Missouri. Her poems have been published in audio form in Terse. Journal and in print in the The Revolution [Relaunch], the Girl Gang blog, the Plants and Poetry Journal and The North Meridian Review. Noelia is a book editor for the North Meridian Review and an award winning writing mentor for Pen America’s Prison Writing Mentorship program.

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