Old Ballerina Club by Sharon Olinka


Sharon Olinka writes with an almost unearthly instinct for imagery, narrative, and piercing detail. Her poems are blunt, lush, and seductive. Whether describing childhood, local mythology, or the mysteries of the present and future, they pull us in with powerful magnetism – her life’s prayer (“Open me”) has been answered. —Naomi Shihab Nye


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages:108
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: January, 2016
  • ISBN: 978-1-939929-47-1


In her own minimal way – as Dickinson could be minimal – Sharon Olinka forges her poems, flesh pressed against flesh. Here is a writer who intuitively knows: “Art is a wound/ given to strangers.” Her experience takes us from Turkey to New York to San Antonio and to places only the heart can find. Hers is huge. We thank her for this gift, a lyricism born of one having truly learned to see. – Ken Fontenot, winner of the 2012 Texas Institute of Letters Award for Poetry

Sharon Olinka’s poems ripple with intense clarity and passion. Collage artist Wayne Atherton contributes eerie, haunting pieces that evoke the identity issues in these poems. Olinka’s tough, direct style is perfect for taking on the ghosts of her past. The stubborn drive behind these rich, memorable poems carries her, and us, forward, turning the wounds of the past into a lasting strength. – Jim Daniels


Old Ballerina Club

Here they come, hobbling on canes,
elegant despite pain, silver haired,
settling on upholstered chairs.
Draping shawls of pale English wool.
Eighteen karat gold gleaming on rings, brooches.
Holding court to ghosts.
Talk in Russian, English.

That Sergei, he tried to rape
my sister in the Bolshoi cloak room.
Another voice. When I had bronchitis,
Limontev made me dance.

Babies gone, houses, landscapes bits
of green paint on a moving stage.
Done with work. Done with men.

Their heads turn as I walk
through the Wellington Hotel lobby.
Messy dark hair, young, cracked leather of
my black jacket, silver bracelets
jangling. How their eyes probe me.
Like they know me
to the core.

And I make my way
out the door, past Carnegie Hall,
ruby lights on losers and whores,
Sabrett hot dog carts,
happy tourists swarming
near Broadway shows,
to test pavements.
Become irrevocably fractured.
Until I let go


Sharon OlinkaBorn in New York City, her previous books are The Good City (Marsh Hawk Press) and A Face Not My Own (West End Press.)  Poems from The Good City won a Barbara Deming Memorial Award. After being published in Poetry Australia, her editor John Millett invited her to come to Australia.  She read at the ADF Library in Canberra, and later edited an issue of American Book Review on contemporary Australian poets.

Her writing appeared in Poetry East, Jewish Quarterly in England, Poetry Wales, Confrontation, Colorado Review, Poet Lore and Barrow Street, among many publications. The Library of Congress included her poem “It Must Not Happen” in their website Poetry of 9/11.

Her anthologized poems can be found in Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, and Umpteen Ways of Looking at a Possum: Critical and Creative Responses to Everette Maddox, from Xavier University Press in New Orleans.

She writes newspaper articles and book reviews, and has resided in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Arlington, Virginia, Astoria, New York, and San Antonio.

Additional information

Weight 9 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .5 in