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Literature & Fiction - Poetry

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Duet in the Little Blue Church: New and Selected Poems

ISBN: 9781947237520
Binding: Paperback
Author: Sharon Chmielarz
Pages: 292
Trim: 6 x 9 inches
Published: 02/08/2023

In this impressive volume poet Sharon Chmielarz has drawn from a lifetime of work—four decades and fourteen books in all—to present a representative selection of her wide-ranging interests and imagination. Early poems draw their imagery from working-class family life—a focus that expanded to include the lives of particular women, daughter/father relationships, widowhood, and other more curious and metaphysical themes often related in a wry and enigmatic style that bears comparison to such modern Polish masters as Szymborska and Milosz. The European element is strong, extending from the streets of Warsaw to the impressions of Nannerl Mozart in Paris, but so is the immigrant experience of the Great Plains—the author was born and raised in South Dakota. In a central section titled "On the Prairie," Chmielarz has chosen poems from three of her books to evoke both the feel and the sometimes grueling history of those new arrivals who followed the trails west.


Sharon Chmielarz was born and raised in Mobridge, South Dakota, but has spent her adult life in Minnesota. Her book The Other Mozart, a biography in poetry, was made into an opera. Her collection Visibility: Ten Miles was a finalist for the 2015 Midwest Book Awards, and The Widow's House was a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and was named by Kirkus Reviews one of the best 100 books of 2016.

Chmielarz's work has been a finalist in the National Poetry Series, and her poems have been nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize. They have been featured on American Life in Poetry, and individual poems have been translated into French and Polish. She's the recipient of a Jane Kenyon Award from The Water~Stone Review. Her poems have been published in The Notre Dame Review, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, The Hudson Review, The North American Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Commonweal, Salmagundi, Margie, Salmagundi, The Seneca Review, Louisiana Literature, Ontario Review, CutBank, and in Nodin Press's 2015 poetry anthology.


"In writing of life on the Great Plains, Sharon Chmielarz spares neither her readers nor herself. Line by line and page by page, the human toll is spelled out, and the case is made for remembering what happened … but a case is made as well for praise … there is tenderness, too, as in yet another moonlit glimpse–of 'a small rabbit/ like Dürer's, the same/ throb in its throat.' That throb is what poetry is all about." - Amy Clampitt

"Beautiful! I will want to reread. Quite lovely poetry." - Joyce Carol Oates

"These are astonishing poems. Like Szymborska's, the poems are spare, often subversive, both dark and hopeful: a conscience is at work in them. Like Dickinson's, they breathe. It's true—the best poems, like Chmielarz's, arise when a wary intelligence trusts instinct, however briefly, and when a warm heart confronts its solitude." - Connie Wanek

"The book [The J Horoscope] does feel … as if not one soul—and certainly not one reader—has been overlooked. Amen, indeed. And thank you, Sharon Chmielarz." - Jim Moore