Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Sharon Olds

Our next reader is also a writer of memoir, but not in any conventional sense; you will never see her on Oprah giving you the real lowdown on her family and her relationships. She simply refuses to talk about these things except in her poetry, which has been both hailed and deplored as intimate and pornographic, although I believe erotic is the operative word.

Another operative word is clarity. There is neither pretense nor obfuscation in her work. She does not fall into the trap that so many poets do, namely writing about life events in such a rush of personal imagery that the poems are incomprehensible to the rest of us.

Her words and intent are both entertaining and accessible.

Whether walking through a crowded airport or making love or observing children at her son's birthday, the narrative voice is deft and precise.

I really can't say enough nice things about this writer. She seems to be everything a poet should be. Not surprisingly, she has one of the largest followings of any literary poet in America. Her eight volumes since 1980 sell. Her work has been translated into seven languages for international publication and appears in over one hundred anthologi

es. She teaches poetry workshops at New York University. She was the New York State Poet Laureate from 1998 to 2000. She is just the right height. She doesn't wear make-up. I am honored to introduce her tonight SHARON OLDS.


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