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Literature & Fiction - Poetry

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Speaking in Riddles

ISBN: 9781947237346
Binding: Paperback
Author: Sharon Chmielarz
Pages: 76
Trim: 5.5 x 6.5 inches
Published: 3/22/2021

Author Sharon Chmielarz, best known for her wry and subtle poems, here turns her attention in a slightly different direction, to word-puzzles that actually have a solution—often more than one. The language is as pleasant and evocative as always, but the challenge is perhaps greater. Answers are provided in the back.

Here's one to try out:

            I can be dark and sombre.
            I can be bright as sequins,
            many sequins, sewn on.
            I can host a moon, a cat, or a snout.
            Or even your embroidered name.
            My trouble, I muffle.
            My mantra, semper fidelis.
            My motto, do or die.

Here's another one:

            The head, for all its genius, is limited
            to nodding and shaking, but these
            nimble creatures switch easily from
            giving direction to talking without a mouth.
            Just one of them, pushed into your chest
            ain't a sign of love, Bub. A Je t'accuse! can
            precede a firing squad and is sweatily close
            to a tongue's lashing or the preacher's wagging.

            Still these bony ones can make a cashmere Come here.

            Or discretely wipe a tear
            or guide a nub across a paper.


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, The Seneca Review, Louisiana Literature, Ontario Review, CutBank, and in Nodin Press's 2015 poetry anthology.