Independent Minds, Working Together

Poet Sharon Olds to Share Award-Winning Works on Nov. 12

Acclaimed poet to give free public reading in The College of Wooster’s Severance Hall

October 29, 2012 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — Award-winning poet Sharon Olds will read from her most recent collection of work, Stag’s Leap, as well as share other poems during a public reading on Monday, Nov. 12, at The College of Wooster. The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7:30 p.m. in Room 009 of Severance Hall (943 College Mall). Refreshments will be served, and her books will be available to be purchased and signed following the reading.

Born in San Francisco, Olds graduated from Stanford University and earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University. Her many awards include the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Lamont Poetry Prize by the Academy of American Poets, the Harriet Monroe Prize, the San Francisco Poetry Center Award, and the T.S. Eliot Prize. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, Olds was the New York State Poet from 1998-2000. Currently, she is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and teaches poetry workshops at New York University.

Often controversial because of her frank subject matter exploring family life and sexuality, Olds is also recognized for the intense beauty of her poetic language. Former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins describes Olds as “a poet of sex and the psyche…infamous for her subject matter alone,” though those who read her more closely “know her as a poet of constant linguistic surprise.”

Throughout Olds’ 10 collections, she certainly looks at body as well as spirit, global issues as well as personal ones. The themes of her collections range from caring for her dying father during the last days of his life to — as in Stag’s Leap — dealing with the shock at the break up of her marriage in 1997, when her husband of 32 years left her for another woman, a book that deals with a sensual as well as emotional mourning of her loss. Not only is Olds a major American poet, but there is no other poet remotely like her. As Dwight Garner wrote of the poet in Salon, “Domesticity, death, erotic love — the stark simplicity of Sharon Olds’ subjects, and of her plain-spoken language, can sometimes make her seem like the brooding Earth Mother of American poetry.”

Past collections by Olds include One Secret Thing (2008), Strike Sparks: Selected Poems 1980-2002 (2004), The Unswept Room (2002), Blood, Tin, Straw (1999), The Wellspring: Poems (1996), The Father (1992), The Sign of Saturn (1991), The Gold Cell (1987), The Matter of This World, (1987), The Dead and the Living (1984), and Satan Says (1980). Olds’ poetry from Stag’s Leap was also recently featured on the PBS Newshour.

Olds’ appearance at Wooster is sponsored by the Department of English and the Donaldson Fund. Additional information is available by phone (330-263-2575) or e-mail.