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Cover art by Carol Henrikson

About the Author

Sherry Olson was born in Fargo, North Dakota, and lived in Vermont for many years. She was a teacher who taught at the elementary school level, at all levels of adult basic education, and at a senior activity center. For years Sherry led a weekly poetry workshop at a women’s correctional center, and she continues to lead poetry workshops for people of all ages. She loved helping people find their own voice in poetry. Sherry lived in rural Vermont with her husband, Dave Boyer, and their two dogs. She enjoyed traveling, being at home, making jewelry with buttons, and striking up new friendships wherever she went.


“Sherry Olson finds poetry everywhere and in just about everything: a jar of buttons, dinner in a restaurant, walking down the streets of New York City, burying a dead bird. Her poems are marvelously ‘existential’ – grounded in the here and now. This quality is not easy to achieve. The poems feel artless while being clearly carefully crafted There are epiphanies by the handfuls in this collection, beautiful moments and language. There is such a generous eye and heart here. Read this book.”

—Tom Absher, author of The Paper Rose

“Sherry Olson’s poems remind us to look at each tenuous moment. We feel her strong love of family and see how she generously extends her family to include women at the correctional facility where she has taught, a woman newly-met on a plane, long-standing friends in her writers’ group, people she meets everywhere, and birds, dogs, blossoms, and trees. She is an exuberant poet of relationship, finding peace and joy in connection and transcendence: burying a grouse who had flown into her window, knowing in spring, she will watch for him in a sapling or fern, taking her German Shepherd to a familiar bookstore, where a stranger pets her, and the moment becomes “‘highlighted and holy,’ seeing the ‘magic’ of a waiter at a restaurant, who is ‘able to look into each one’s eyes (around the table) somehow at once.’ Olson’s poems pulse toward a humble wisdom about partnerships we may take for granted in our own lives simmering with the manna, spices, and ‘overflowing cups’ of home and of her travels, inviting us into her worlds, loving us, asking us to sit down at her table and take part in this savory meal. “

—Nancy Takacs, author of Juniper

“ These poems made me feel softer and more human. They encouraged me to talk to strangers. Sherry Olson's poems are for the poet in everyone. She writes about everyday events—talking to someone at a train station, going for a walk with the dog, preparing food for guests, reading a book, and shopping, for example. But these poems are far from mundane. In Olson's way of seeing, everything matters and means something—the color of a scarf, a memory, a special ingredient, saying hello. Reading the rich details of Olson's experience reminded me that, if I pay attention, my own life is full of poetry as well.”

—Rose Brown

“Sherry Olson’s poems have the authority of a life lived to its core, yielding wisdom from even the most local of events and relationships. Every one of her poems is an encounter with someone or something that is opened by her attention. These are poems people will not just like, but will love 

—Linda McCarriston, author of Eva-Mary

“Sherry Olson thinks about us all the time. She thinks about her familiars, her husband Dave, and son Dash, and daughter-in-law Erica, Kirby the German Shepherd, the stranger-not-stranger in a subway station, the amaryllis with its unfathomable regeneration, the bird to be buried. The key ingredient in the poem about little Italian toasts is the kindness of the chef who gave her the recipe. She is writing their story into ours, and hers into theirs, trying on other lives, wearing what someone else has broken in, as she says. You want to be in this world, to be thought of by Sherry Olson, to be noticed and nurtured by her. You expect to hear about yourself in these poems. And you do.”

—Bob Joly

Four-Way Stop, Sherry Olson's second collection of poems, is not pretentious, or pedantic, or sugary-sweet or cutesy. Instead, Ms Olson plumbs the depths of simple everyday experiences and uncovers simple profundity. Whether it's a Fall walk in the woods with a canine companion; dinner with her sister in an ethnic restaurant in Manhattan; listening to the voices emerging from a women's writing workshop in a rural prison; a mom dancing with her son at his wedding; or anticipating the last wailing notes of the night from a favorite blues harpist; these poems remind us how we are joined together—simply and deeply, in so many joyful ways.”

—Daniel Albert

“Sherry Olson is a storyteller. Each poem in Four-Way Stop tells a story that you can enjoy in the changing light, look at from different angles, roll around in your mouth like a fine red wine and, ultimately, cherish. They are not all about easy, cozy subjects. In the section called "Blood Work", Sherry takes on warmongering, chemotherapy, aging and grieving. But even on these difficult topics, her poems speak with caring and generosity. My current favorite in this collection is "Dinner at the Alcala", a warm, witty account of an evening out with her sister in Manhattan. Don't forget to check out Ms. Olson's first collection, Breakfast at the Wayside, for more delightfully complex but accessible poems.”

—Andrew L. Simon