*SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2019 T. S. ELIOT PRIZE*
Following her recent Odes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet gives us a new collection of poems that sing of a woman’s intimate life and political conscience. The atom bomb, Breaking Bad, the cervix, Trayvon Martin, her mother’s return from the dead: the peerless Sharon Olds once again takes up subject matter that is both difficult and ordinary, elusive and everywhere.
Each aria is shaped by its unique melody and moral logic, as Olds stands centre stage to account for her own late romance and chance wisdom, and faces the tragic life of our nation and our planet. ‘I cannot say I did not ask / to be born,’ begins one aria, which considers how, with what actions, with what thirst, we each ask for a turn, and receive our portion on earth. Olds delivers these pieces with all the passion, anguish, and solo force that make a great performance, in the process enlarging the soul of her readers.
‘Olds is a supreme poet of the body; I’ll be reading her till I die’ Fiona Benson
Sharon Olds goes where many poets would fear to tread and others not dream of treading. Like a curious child, she wanders past No Entry signs on to private land… Arias is a phenomenal achievement, the most moving collection of her career, the most open of books.
On my Christmas list? Sharon Olds’s Arias. Olds is a supreme poet of the body; I’ll be reading her till I die.
A generous collection… sexy, pained, conversational, always bringing the reader along for the ride.