Michael Ondaatje has called Sharon Olds's poetry 'pure fire in the hands' and cheered the 'roughness and humour and brag and tenderness and completion in her work as she carries the reader through rooms of passion and loss'. This rich selection - made by the author - 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 fulfilment of marriage, the wonder of children - but each re-casting penetrates ever more deeply, enriched by new perceptions and conceits.
A powerful distillation of the best work from one of America's most gifted and widely read poets, drawn from her seven published volumes, this is a testament to a remarkable writer's depth, range and continuing development.
Her best work exhibits a lyrical acuity which is both purifying and redemptive. She sees description as a means to catharsis, and the end result is impossible to forget... Her poetry is remarkable for its candour, its eroticism, and its power to move
Olds remains too little-known in the UK...readers new to her will be astounded
If any reading is 'essential', this is it
Sharon Olds explores her own experience with an intransigent honesty and fiery dignity. The reader might flinch at the intimacy, but Olds strikes straight out for the truth
The attention to line, the superbly focused detail, the way her autobiographical detail strikes, shines, deepens, spreads: this, surely is the sound the confessional hordes have been trying to utter since Lowell, the right road that is missed so easily