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Always the Detail

Always the Detail winner of the 2015 Nebraska Center for the Book Award.

A colorful painting of a mixed cedar and hardwood forest graces the cover of Always the Detail, the book of poetry by Barbara Schmitz. The book ends 96 pages later with a poem called "Sitting in Front of the Page." On the pages in between, the Norfolk writer, and winner of the Nebraska Center for the Book's poetry award, puts into skilled words her detailed observations of everyday occurrences. Situations not often considered in poetic terms - like trying to avoid someone you know in the local grocery - are gracefully described in poems such as "Hiding from Beth at Hy-Vee."
The 70 poems hemmed in under that painting by Norfolk artist Lonn Atwood run the gamut from the conception of Schmitz's own son in her youth in "Eli's Coming," to her analyzing the fashions of a younger generation in "Uniforms." The highway running by the home she shares with her husband, Bob, and the pharmacy next door make their way into Schmitz's poems and reveal that much of the inspiration for her work comes from her hometown.
In this pleasant collection, readers will nod while relating to the experiences shared by Schmitz, and some will wonder to themselves why they've never before seen the poetry in all of life's little details.

Nebraska Life March/April 2015

Barbara Schmitz is a definitive observer--both earthly and beyond--of the highest, keenest magnitude. In Always The Detail, she demonstrates how dozens, if not hundreds, of our daily encounters with animal and plant, with mineral and liquid, with shaman, goddess, guru and god, are all equally worthy of a rendering, a leavening, into poetry. Barbara knows the molecular components of the poem, as the yogi knows the intricate, intimate makeup -- the vibrant colors and spiraled cadences--of her own chakras. Read this remarkable work--it will heighten both your point of view and your vision.

Paul Zarzyski, author of Zarzyski 51: 30 Poems, 20 Lyrics, One Self-Interview.

In these frank, open-hearted, sometimes very nicely funny poems, we are given many glimpses of a fully lived life. Barbara Schmitz moves with ease among the many elements that make up the world she values; her emotional directness pleases, her honesty reaches into us, her sometimes even ecstatic casualness surprises. "The blooms on the dahlias are holding back. / Don't they know withholding love's / the only sin to be punished in eternity. / Burst open! Be wanton! Don't wait!" Such a clear readable poet; such a fresh presence among us.

Michael Dennis Browne