Information about the poet.
In this wise and intimate new book, Sharon Olds tells the story of a divorce, embracing strands of love, sex, sorrow, memory, and new freedom.
As she carries us through the seasons when her marriage was ending, Olds opens her heart to the reader, sharing the feeling of invisibility that comes when we are no longer standing in love’s sight; the surprising physical bond that still exists between a couple during parting; the loss of everything from her husband’s smile to the set of his hip; the radical change in her sense of place in the world. Olds is naked before us, curious and brave and even generous toward the man who was her mate for thirty years and who now loves another woman. As she writes in the remarkable “Stag’s Leap,” “When anyone escapes, my heart / leaps up. Even when it’s I who am escaped from, / I am half on the side of the leaver.” Olds’s propulsive poetic line and…[more]
From Sharon Olds—a stunning new collection of poems that project a fresh spirit, a startling energy of language and counterpoint, and a moving, elegiac tone shot through with humor.
From poems that erupt out of history and childhood to those that embody the nurturing of a new generation of children and the transformative power of marital love, Sharon Olds takes risks, writing boldly of physical, emotional, and spiritual sensations that are seldom the stuff of poetry.
These are poems that strike for the heart, as Sharon Olds captures our imagination with unexpected wordplay, sprung rhythms, and the disquieting revelations of ordinary life. Writing at the peak of her powers, this greatly admired poet gives us her finest collection.
Her first book of poems, Satan Says, was praised in the highest terms. Hugh Seidman wrote, “I am simply astonished in poem after poem… It is pure talent.” Marilyn Hacker called it “a daring and elegant first book. This is a poetry which affirms and redeems the art.”
This new book presents a beautifully realized cycle of poems beginning with those that honor the dead, then poems that burrow into childhood, limning the unforgettable; and culminating in poems for the living, moving outward toward love, marriage, children, toward “the tasting, and the giving of life.” Larry Levis says, “The Dead and the Living is an unignorable book, something truly rare. The feeling behind it is painful, but exquisitely so. Pain made into art or what, in another time, people called ‘beauty.’” It is the achievement of a young poet writing in the full measure of her powers.
Sharon Olds completes her cycle of family poems in a book at once intense and harmonic, playful with language, and rich with a new self-awareness and sense of irony.
The opening poem, with its sequence of fearsome images of war, serves as a prelude to poems of home in which humor, anger, and compassion sing together with lyric energy—sometimes comic, sometimes filled with a kind of unblinking forgiveness. These songs of joy and danger—public and private—illuminate one another. As the book unfolds, the portrait of the mother goes through a moving revisioning, leading us to a final series of elegies of hard-won mourning. One Secret Thing is charged throughout with Sharon Olds’s characteristic passion, imagination, and poetic power.
The doctor on the phone was young, maybe on his…[more]
A powerful collection from one of our most gifted and widely read poets—117 of her finest poems drawn from her seven published volumes.
Michael Ondaatje has called Sharon Olds’s poetry “pure fire in the hands” and cheered the “roughness and humor and brag and tenderness and completion in her work as she carries the reader through rooms of passion and loss.” This rich selection exhibits those qualities in poem after poem, reflecting, moreover, an exciting experimentation with rhythm and language and a movement toward an embrace beyond the personal. Subjects are revisited—the pain of childhood, adolescent sexual stirrings, the fulfillment of marriage, the wonder of children—but each recasting penetrates ever more deeply, enriched by new perceptions and conceits.
Strike Sparks is a testament to this remarkable poet’s continuing and amazing growth.
The Father is a sequence of poems, a daughter’s vision of a father’s illness and death. It chronicles these events in a connected narrative, from the onset of the illness to reflections in the years after the death. The poems are impelled by a passion to know and a freedom to follow wherever the truth may lead, and it goes into areas of feeling and experience rarely entered in poetry….The ebullient language, the startling images, the sense of connectedness seize us immediately. Sharon Olds transforms a harsh reality with truthfulness, with beauty, with humor—and without bitterness. The deep pain in The Father arises from a death, and from understanding a life. But there is joy as well. In the end, we discover we have been reading not a grim accounting but an inspiriting tragedy, transcending the personal.