Sharon Olds
2012 |
Poetry

A searing sequence of poems about a daughter’s vision of a father’s illness and death—by the Pulitzer Prize and T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry winner, called "a poet for these times, a powerful woman who won’t back down" (San Francisco Chronicle). The Father chronicles these events in a connected narrative, from the onset of the illness to reflections in the years after the death. The book is, most of all, a series of acts of understanding. The poems are impelled by a passion to know, and a freedom to follow wherever the truth may lead. The book goes into area of feeling and experience rarely entered in poetry. The ebullient language, the startling, far-reaching images, the sense of extraordinary connectedness seize us immediately. Sharon Olds transforms a harsh reality with truthfulness, with beauty, with humor—and without bitterness. The deep pain in The Father arises from a death, and from understanding a life. But there is joy as well. In the end, we discover we have been reading not a grim accounting but an inspiriting tragedy, transcending the personal. The radiance and daring that have always distinguished Sharon Old’s work find here their most powerful expression.

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The Father