Her poetry explores origins, and so declares its "country of origin" the west coast of America, home of the talking-cure and the sun-bathe, healing by self-exposure. If, however, the term "confessional poet" more accurately describes Olds than the literary strategists to whom it's usually applied Plath, Berryman, Lowell , this is not because her poems are shapeless, artless outpourings. Confession is her structural model, almost her poetic form.
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Characteristically, her speakers begin low-key, as if caught mid-conversation or mid-psychotherapy session, carrying on with a significant anecdote, precisely located: "When I felt the rubber band that was looped around my wrist", "As we sat at the feet of the string quartet", "Then, one late afternoon". The unfolding monologues are designed to feel improvised, but they develop by well-plotted accretion and changes of pace, sometimes circling, sometimes soaring with unstoppable momentum, towards catharsis.
An outburst of metaphor replaces the patient's outburst of sobs: her wild list of excuses becomes the poem's series of wonderfully essential details. A critic once compared her poems to "vertically tilted chocolate bars, one to a page", evoking the look of these typically stanza-less blocks, but not their energy, their volatile, streaming music. If American prosody, post-Whitman, is mostly syntax-based, for Olds the line retains its bony force.
Contrasting movements of rest and run-on are beautifully judged in "First Hour", where the newborn infant's sharp but relaxed responses seem to encode the adult's poetic technique:. All I had to do was go out along the line of my gaze and back, out and back, on gravity's silk, the pressure of the air a caress, smelling on my self her creamy blood.
The Unswept Room (Cape Poetry)
The air was softly touching my skin and tongue, entering me and drawing forth the little sighs I did not know as mine. Here, the two lines of trochaic tetrameter "self her creamy blood. The air" and "sighs I did not know as mine" are like reflection and image, a steadying effect. The Unswept Room has a maternal slant. The motherly anxieties and anxieties about "Mom" are never as relentlessly central or focused as the father who, in previous collections, is a massive bodily presence shaping the emotional thrust of poem after poem.
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Often perceived as a faltering, otherworldly voice, a nymph or dryad crying, singing or softly complaining, mother elicits a more fluttering and uncertain response from her daughter-confessor. If the book's semi-sequential structure, emphasised by a puzzling abundance of separating blank pages, creates a fragmented quality, fragmentation may be what the poems want to explore.
Their chronological span reaches from conception "The Foetus in the Voting Booth" to menopause and prefigured death "Wilderness". A new, frankly middle-aged, departure is to build poems around adult children's conversations: the voices seem truly captured, but are perhaps presented in too sentimental and instructive a frame.
In a touch of chatty colloquialism, one poem is even entitled "Sunday in the Empty Nest". Olds retains her power to direct our unmediated gaze on the terrible - the car-crash victim with "a long bone sticking out of the stub of her thigh" "Still Life in Landscape" or "the rustling, creaking, living field" where the tyrant, Marcus Licinius Crassus, a topically potent figure, has crucified his 6, prisoners of war "Bible Study: 71 B.
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Increasingly, though, fussy moral judgment intervenes. Sharon Olds. Her books have won many awards over the years. Eliot Prize and the Pulitzer Prize.
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radelolighdis.tk Also by Sharon Olds. Related titles. The Wife Drought. Invisible Women. Caroline Criado Perez. Fixed It.
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