#20: Bad Girl at the Altar Rail, by Sharon Charde
About the Author
Sharon Charde, a family and marital therapist for the last twenty-four years, has led writing workshops and weekend retreats for women in Lakeville, Connecticut, and Block Island, Rhode Island, since 1992. She has taught a weekly creative writing workshop for female juvenile offenders at Touchstone, a residential treatment facility in Litchfield, Connecticut. She also has facilitated a monthly workshop sponsored by the Empowering Young Women Project for local teenagers and the Touchstone girls and currently does one one with young women from the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville.
In 2002 she edited and published a chapbook anthology of poetry titled I Am Not A Juvenile Delinquent, and in 2004, a full length edition of that anthology, which won the 2005 Literature PASS Award (Prevention For A Safer Society) given by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency in California.
She has studied with Natalie Goldberg, Sharon Olds, and Brenda Hillman. Her work has been published in Calyx, A Journal of Art and Literature for Women, Crosscurrents, Poeticas, The Women's Studies Quarterly, The White Pelican Review, and Voices in Italian America. Another poem is published in Proposing on the Brooklyn Bridge, an anthology on marriage. She was chosen as a finalist in both the 2001 and 2004 Comstock Review contest, the Bordighera Poetry Prize for a manuscript by an Italian-American, and the 2003 Sunken Garden Poetry Competition.
She is mother to two sons and has lived in Lakeville for thirty-five years with her husband, John.
About the Chapbook
"There is no artifice in these poems, no extra words, no lies. Reading this book, I felt as if the poet was offering me her most intimate desires and sharing her most profound losses with a wisdom and generosity that moved me deeply. As a nurse, I am used to dealing with death and grief, with hearing the confessions of saints and sinners. I thought I had nothing more to learn, then I read these poems. Sharon Charde is a wise teacher, not ignoring the permanency of grief, the assurance of death, nor the risk of love, yet able to lead us, gently and surely, beyond despair." —Cortney Davis, author of Leopold's Maneuvers, winner of the 2003 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry
"Sharon L. Charde's Bad Girl at the Altar Rail speaks in a voice that is wry and unflinching, sometimes painfully raw. This book traces the story of a woman's life from girlhood in the fifties to middle age today. We see her struggling for identity by rebelling sexually ("I have always lived from between my legs"), and then coming to terms with being a wife ("Before we married I was loose sky, you bound me in") and a mother who must find a way to live with the loss of her son ("I drag his death after me"), addressing the reader straightforwardly but with a true writer's skill at shaping experience. These are poems filled with the pain of loss and the resulting intense emotion and vulnerability but also poems that create room for the ecstasy of body and spirit. Through it all, the woman speaker affirms the girl inside, her youthful passion and longing." —Mary Crow, Poet Laureate of Colorado, author of I Have Tasted the Apple
From the Chapbook
my baby was dying
as it was being born
I didn't listen when death was talking to me
he stalked the flowers in my garden
filled the ground with seed
murmured at the celebrations
not yet not yet
he brought me two baskets
in one, he said, put what is already dying
in the other, what is not yet dead
but they're both the same, I said
now I use one basket for what I don't know
and the other, for all I have lost