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The Small Door of Your Death
Sheryl St. Germain

Publication date: March 6, 2018



Autumn House
2018 • 104 pp. 6 x 9"
Poetry / Poetry - Death, Grief, Loss / Poetry - Women Authors

$17.95 Paperback, 978-1-938769-27-6



Poet Sheryl St. Germain's collection gracefully and honestly chronicles the deep grief of losing a child

This honest and haunting collection of poems follows the loss of the poet’s only son to heroin addiction. St. Germain takes us through the stages of her grief and offers no false promises or simple answers. These narrative-driven poems are a compelling and compassionate look into addiction and its effect on a family.

Reviews / Endorsements



“In Sheryl St. Germain’s new collection, we find ourselves enthralled by one woman’s attempt to look straight into the eyes of Loss without blinking—to speak, without stuttering, grief’s true name—a name none of us wants to know, though we always listen for its inevitable approach. St. Germain’s work teaches us how to talk back, how to talk through the intimate agonies that, in many ways, define what it means to be human now. Muriel Rukeyser said poetry cannot save us but it is the kind of thing that could.  I think this book is proof of that.”—Tim Seibles

“In this brilliant, wrenchingly beautiful book, Sheryl St. Germain limns the unbearable death of her son via overdose, the agonizing history of her family’s addictions, and her own fragile recovery.  With astonishing lyricism, she gives us “snow and its dark sister: a kind of brutal cold that stings you awake.”  She gives us an “Ode to Needles,” in which the needles of White Spruce and Lodgepole Pine become the needles both she and her son used to inject drugs. And in “Versions of Heaven,” she takes us to a place where her musician son might be “showing the gone ones…how to scat god’s breath.” This book is an invaluable companion for anyone who has wrestled with addiction, or lost a loved one to it. St. Germain knows both the rawness of grief, and the ways we must find to go on living. She can help us learn.”—Ruth L. Schwartz

“These poems chronicle the passage of a mother and her son into the abyss of drugs, sorrow, confusion, hope, despair, and love. The mother’s voice struggles to bear witness, to be present, forgoing excuses while trying to answer why, the question that rings a million times in mothers’ hearts throughout the world, to forever cycle and orbit into every cell of the compassionate and caring heart.   This collection gives us answers in gray, neither black nor white, but as they must be in our human experience, gray as the dawn that precedes the rising sun.”      —Jimmy Santiago Baca



SHERYL ST. GERMAIN’s poetry books include Making Bread at Midnight, How Heavy the Breath of God, The Journals of Scheherazade, and Let it Be a Dark Roux: New and Selected Poems. She has written two memoirs, Swamp Songs: the Making of an Unruly Woman, and Navigating Disaster: Sixteen Essays of Love and a Poem of Despair. She co-edited, with Margaret Whitford, Between Song and Story: Essays for the Twenty-First Century, and with Sarah Shotland Words Without Walls: Writers on Violence, Addiction and Incarceration. She directs the MFA program in Creative Writing at Chatham University and is co-founder of the Words Without Walls program. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA.



Wed, 15 Nov 2017 14:01:35 -0500