Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sharon Chmielarz on Chopin (Vol. 2, No. 5)

At the end of February, a wonderful poet Sharon Chmielarz visited Southern California for a tour of poetry readings, including appearances at Ventura, Pasadena, La Canada, and Tujunga. She read her erotic poetry in Ventura and poems inspired by the art of painter Stephen Lindsteadt, not about Chopin. Her visit created an opportunity to ask her about Chopin. Chmielarz provided the following response to my inquiry about her interest in Chopin's music:

"Strangely my interest in Chopin began with a non-interest in Chopin. I’d always wondered what the hoopla was all about. That changed one evening in Krakow when my husband and I attended an all Chopin concert. That night I heard Chopin. Oh! “An American Hears Chopin,” a poem in CHOPIN WITH CHERRIES, tries to convey the experience."

"It was my husband Tad (Tadeusz), a refugee after WWII, who introduced me to classical music. I’d skirted its edges before, but with him I listened. It was a gift he gave when he was alive and which I treasure."

"I love music, but poetry is my thing. I have two new books out, CALLING and THE SKY IS GREAT THE SKY IS BLUE. Each has a few poems about music or musicians, place/ travel, history, women. I had a chance to read from them in Ventura and Tujunga. It was a great trip, especially after months of winter in Minnesota; to California, a parallel universe of ice and snow."

One of Chmielarz's contributions to the Chopin with Cherries anthology, entitled "Chopin: Apples" was recognized by a Pushcart Prize nomination for the year 2010.

Chopin: Apples

And what country hasn’t he lived in,
his music chilling the listener’s arms?

And when haven’t his glissandos
spilled over history, the colossus

that upsets lives like apple carts?
Apples rolling over cobbles.

God-fall we think,
finding among the bruised,

a handful of sweet apples.
The easy thank you is listening

to someone playing at a window
in Warsaw, turning the rumble

of despair into a mazurka.
“Beloved little corpse,” Sand called Chopin,

sitting beside him at the keyboard.
Her “angel.” His music, his wings.

We could hear that poem during the Chopin with Cherries reading at the Chopin & Paderewski 2010 conference held at the Loyola University Chicago in November 2010. Chmielarz appeared as a member of a group of poets, with Kathabela Wilson, Katrin Talbot, George Bodmer, and others.

Sharon Chmielarz's books include Different Arrangements, But I Won’t Go Out in a Boat, The Other Mozart (made recently into a two-part opera) and The Rhubarb King. She’s had poems published in magazines like The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, The Laurel Review, The Hudson Review, Water~Stone, Great River Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Salmagundi and many others. She’s had one chapbook published, A Stranger in Her House. Two new books of poems are forthcoming from Loonfeather Press and Whistling Shade Press.

More information about her may be found on her website: www.sharonchmielarz.com


Group photo from Village Poets Reading at Bolton Hall Museum, Tujunga, February 27, 2011. Sharon is in a red sweater in the front row, surrounded by other poets.

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