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October 18, 2007The Times CenterFrom the Academy Audio Archive

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)

Mairsy and Dosey (audio only)

 

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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.

by this poet

poem

I loved the things that were ours—pink gloves,
hankies with a pastoral scene in one corner.
There was a lot we were not allowed to do,
but what we were allowed to do was ours,
dolls you carry by the leg, and dolls’ 
clothes you would put on or take off—
someone who was yours, who did

2
poem
                (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
poem

At dusk, on those evenings she does not go out,
my mother potters around her house.
Her daily helpers are gone, there is no one
there, no one to tell what to do,
she wanders, sometimes she talks to herself,
fondly scolding, sometimes she suddenly
throws out her arms and screams—high