NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • Songs from our era of communal grief and reckoning—by the Pulitzer Prize and T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry winner, called "a poet for these times, a powerful woman who won’t back down" (San Francisco Chronicle).
"At the time of have-not, I look at myself in this mirror," writes Olds in this self-scouring, exhilarating volume, which opens with a section of quarantine poems, and at its center boasts what she calls Amherst Balladz (whose syntax honors Emily Dickinson: "she was our Girl - our Woman - / Man enough - for me") and many more in her own contemporary, long-flowing-sentence rhythm. Olds sings of her childhood, young womanhood, and maturity all mixed up together, seeing an early lover in the one who is about to buried; seeing her whiteness, seeing her privilege; seeing her mother (whom her readers will recognize) "flushed exalted at Punishment time"; seeing how we've spoiled the earth but carrying a stray indoor spider carefully back out to the garden.
It is Olds's gift to us that in the richly detailed exposure of her sorrows she can still elegize songbirds, her true kin, and write that heaven comes here in life, not after it.
About the Author
SHARON OLDS was born in San Francisco and educated at Stanford University and Columbia University. The winner of The Frost Medal, as well as both the Pulitzer Prize and England’s T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry for her 2012 collection, Stag’s Leap, she is the author of twelve previous books of poetry and the winner of many other awards and honors, including the inaugural San Francisco Poetry Center Award for her first book, Satan Says (1980), and the National Book Critics Circle Award for her second, The Dead and the Living, which was also the Lamont Poetry Selection for 1983. Olds teaches in the graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University and helped to found the NYU outreach programs, among them the writing workshop for residents of Isidor Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island, and for the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. She lives in New York City.
“A commanding poet . . . This substantial gathering is funny, furious, discomfiting, ravishing, mythic, and sorrowful . . . As always, Olds describes herself and her loved ones in startlingly microscopic detail, finding beauty in the ravages of age and even death . . . Passionately precise, Olds unites the primordial with the scientific, the mundane with the chthonic, flesh with spirit.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist
“A gorgeous, introspective collection. Beginning with a series of quarantine poems, she also meditates on her own white privilege, on her mother’s abuse, and on aging, among other subjects. At once personal and political, the book perfectly encapsulates this confounding time.” —Columbia Magazine
“Ranging from quarantine to issues of whiteness, the Pulitzer and T.S. Eliot Prize–winning Olds continues her laserlike attentiveness to the life around her life as she crisscrosses childhood, young adulthood, and contemporary times, sometimes in the style of Emily Dickinson.” —Library Journal