Looking at my father by sharon olds


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However, Olds is defiant and original in her voice and it makes for an incredible, gut-churning read. I recalled his shrunken form and how the spit crusted to his dry lips. I remember looking at him, remember words spoken between short breath and I wondered how impossible it might be to speak or write this, this passing.

Late Poem to My Father

If you have ever lost a loved one — this is a book to wrap yourself in again and again. The Father gave me some time with my own beloved and deceased. I was grateful for the door.

The Mortal One. Where do you feel you belong? What does the speech of your childhood place sound like?

Take the I Out

On the last go-round she asked: What are you feeling right now? Some powerful first drafts were produced that afternoon.

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Olds was not so much tutor as tuning fork guiding us to find the accurate pitch of voice and preoccupation, past and present. Pinpointing the simile, however shocking, she is a poet of heightened, almost Keatsian, perception. Since there is a strong relationship between material things and the way we store memories, potent nouns relating to childhood hold significance.

Olds' worlds

Many poems enact the process of memory itself. Writing frankly comes at a price.

Some critics say she goes too far: looking for signs of her father in her children, writing explicitly about their sexuality. Though many poems seem written in the moment, there is often a long delay before publication. Most of The Father was written by the mid-eighties but the book was published in If we did not observe the niceties of etiquette he whopped us with his belt.

Late Poem to my Father by Sharon Olds

The wider political perspective is there across the work from Vietnam onwards; for Olds the personal is political. She is often accused of being self-absorbed, but the work is not self-pitying; at her best she refracts incidents from a range of perspectives. Often a poem is formed — as with Calvinist Parents — by revealing connections between personal abuse hidden inside an outwardly respectable family, and political abuse.

Sharon Olds - Wikipedia

However, there is a sense in each collection that one or two poems are more repetition than refraction. It can feel as if she is, but reading across the collections, ignoring these lapses, this is remarkable work. Olds is a fine poet with a clarity and boldness of voice. Conversational, with moments of lyric intensity, it engages the reader in the processes of memory and understanding. Her forensic digging invites readers to dare to attend to areas of damage in order to encourage new growth above ground. Sharon Olds was born in San Francisco in Her latest collection is One Secret Thing Cape, Olds was New York State Poet from to She lives in New York City.

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