Cynthia Cruz is the author of six books of poetry that examine the violence of poverty. Her latest collection, Guidebooks for the Dead, is about how the poor live. Cruz, born on a US Air Force base in Germany to a Mexican American father and a German mother, felt like a class outsider since her girlhood moving around northern California. Her poetry focuses on working-class people, who escape difficult conditions to dream, do drugs, sell their bodies, and question society and themselves. Cruz is an outlier who rebels against expected categories in a sensory, dark, idiosyncratic voice. Today she travels frequently between Berlin and her home in New York, and teaches writing—at Columbia University, among other places. She’s a prodigious writer and academic: Hotel Oblivion (poetry), and her second book of essays, The Melancholia of Class, are forthcoming; and she’s pursuing a PhD at the European Graduate School, conducting research on psychoanalysis and philosophy.