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About this poet

Born in San Francisco on November 19, 1942, Sharon Olds earned a BA at Stanford University and a PhD at Columbia University.

Her first collection of poems, Satan Says (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980), received the inaugural San Francisco Poetry Center Award. Olds's following collection, The Dead & the Living (Alfred A. Knopf, 1984), received the Lamont Poetry Selection in 1983 and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Her other collections include Stag's Leap (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012), recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the T. S. Eliot Prize; One Secret Thing (Random House, 2008); Strike Sparks: Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004); The Unswept Room (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002); Blood, Tin, Straw (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999); The Gold Cell (Alfred A. Knopf, 1997); The Wellspring (Alfred A. Knopf, 1995); and The Father (Alfred A. Knopf, 1992); which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

About Olds's poetry, one reviewer for the New York Times said, "Her work has a robust sensuality, a delight in the physical that is almost Whitmanesque. She has made the minutiae of a woman's everyday life as valid a subject for poetry as the grand abstract themes that have preoccupied other poets."

Olds's numerous honors include a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. Her poetry has been anthologized in more than a hundred collections.

Olds held the position of New York state poet laureate from 1998 to 2000. She served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2006 to 2012. She currently teaches poetry workshops at New York University's Graduate Creative Writing Program as well as a workshop at Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island in New York.


Bibliography

Stag's Leap (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012)
One Secret Thing (Random House, 2008)
Strike Sparks: Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004)
The Unswept Room (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002)
Blood, Tin, Straw (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999)
The Gold Cell (Alfred A. Knopf, 1997)
The Wellspring (Alfred A. Knopf, 1995)
The Father (Alfred A. Knopf, 1992)
The Dead & the Living (Alfred A. Knopf, 1984)
Satan Says (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980)


Multimedia

From the Poets Forum, November 8, 2008From the Image Archive

 

 

Voices

Sharon Olds, 1942
                (for Lucille)

Our voices race to the towers, and up beyond
the atmosphere, to the satellite,
slowly turning, then back down
to another tower, and cell. Quincy, 
Toi, Honoree, Sarah, Dorianne, 
Galway. When Athena Elizalex calls, 
I tell her I'm missing Lucille's dresses,
and her shoes, and Elizabeth says "And she would say,
"Damn! I do look good!'"  After we
hang up, her phone calls me again
from inside her jacket, in the grocery store
with her elder son, eleven, I cannot                        
hear the words, just part of the matter
of the dialogue, it's about sugar, I am
in her pocket like a spirit. Then I dream it — 
looking at an illuminated city 
from a hill, at night, and suddenly
the lights go out — like all the stars
gone out.  "Well, if there is great sex
in heaven," we used to say, "or even just
sex, or one kiss, what's wrong
with that?!"  Then I'm dreaming a map of the globe, with
bright pinpoints all over it —
in the States, the Caribbean, Latin America,
in Europe, and in Africa —
everywhere a poem of hers is being
read.  Small comfort.  Not small
to the girl who curled against the wall around the core
of her soul, keeping it alive, with long
labor, then unfolded into the hard truths, the
lucid beauty, of her song.            

                                                       15 Feb '10

Copyright © 2010 by Sharon Olds. Used by permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2010 by Sharon Olds. Used by permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Sharon Olds

Sharon Olds

Born on November 19, 1942, in San Francisco, Sharon Olds has served as New York state poet laureate and a Chancellor for the Academy of American Poets.

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