Duet in the Little Blue Church
Nodin Press, 2023
Duet in the Little Blue Church is an engaging poetry collection but also an autobiographical record of one midwestern woman and her writing life, first learning craft as a late-starter, then developing and strengthening hopefully her style, voice, and interests in poetry’s multiple leeways.
Watch and listen
A Conversation with Helen Frost took place on Tuesday, April 11th, hosted by SubText Books. You can listen and watch the recording on Crowdcast. (They will ask you to register for the invite, walk you through that process, then you’ll have access to the video.)
Join us online as Sharon Chmielarz presents her newest book, Duet in the Little Blue Church—a selection of poems from 14 books and a career spanning four decades. Chmielarz will be joined in conversation by fellow poet, Helen Frost.
In this impressive volume, Chmielarz presents 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.
Honors and Recognition
I can tell you one thing for sure: you haven’t read a book of poems like this before. Not ever. If you think you can handle a rewriting of human history—not to speak of human spirituality—from the J point of view, then welcome to the universe according to J. Is it a Biblical retelling? Yes. Is it an utterly contemporary view of twenty-first-century human nature, godly nature, and nature itself? Yes. Serious? Yes. Funny? Oh, yes. And, by the way, God can be a whiner. Vengeful. In the book’s last poem someone called “The Host” appears. He or she could be God, I suppose. But actually, the host, it seems to me, is Sharon Chmielarz and she ends her wild romp through history and religion like this:
It is said, and much hoped to be true,
the host overlooked not one soul. Amen.
And the book does feel this way: as if not one soul—and certainly not one reader—has been overlooked. Amen, indeed. And thank you, Sharon Chmielarz. (Jim Moore, Underground, New and Selected Poems)
Thoughtful, bold, humorous, earthy, and humane—a superb collection. (Kirkus Reviews)