Sharon Olds Biography
Sharon Olds is an American poet. Olds has been the recipient of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, the 1984 National Book Critics Circle Award, and the first San Francisco Poetry Center Award in 1980. She teaches creative writing at New York University.
Sharon Olds Age
Sharon Olds was born on November 19, 1942, in San Francisco, California, United States. She was born and raised in Francisco, California. She is 76 years old as of 2018.
Sharon Olds Net worth
Sharon Olds earns her income from her businesses and from other related organizations. She also earns her income from her work as a poet. She has an estimated net worth of $ 8 million dollars.
Sharon Olds Education
Sharon Olds studied mostly English, History, and Creative Writing. Her favorite poets included William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Edna St. Vincent Millay, but it was Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems which she carried in her purse through tenth grade. She earned her B.A degree from Stanford University in 1964. She then earned her Ph.D. in English in 1972 from Columbia University.
Sharon Olds Husband
Sharon Olds married to David Douglas Olds from 1968–1997. They got married in New York City and, in 1969, gave birth to the first of their two children. In 1997, after 29 years of marriage, they divorced, and Olds moved to New Hampshire, though she commutes to New York three days a week.
Sharon Olds Early life
Sharon Olds was born and raised up in San Francisco, California along with her siblings. She was raised as a “hellfire Calvinist”, as she describes it.
Her father, like his before him, was an alcoholic who was often abusive to his children.
In Olds’ writing, she often refers to the time (or possibly even times) when her father tied her to a chair.
Olds’ mother was often either unable or too afraid to come to the aid of her children.
The strict religious environment Olds was raised in had certain rules of censorship and restriction. Olds was not permitted to go to the movies and the family did not own a television. As for the literature granted in the household Olds once said she won a singing contest in the church choir.
“[The prize] was a book of child martyrs who had been killed for their belief and died very politely.” She liked fairy tales, and also read Nancy Drew and Life Magazine. As for her own religious views and her exposure to religious literary art she says she was by nature “a pagan and a pantheist” and notes “I was in a church where there was both great literary art and bad literary art, the great art being psalms and the bad art being hymns.
The four-beat was something that was just part of my consciousness from before I was born.” She adds “I think I was about 15 when I conceived of myself as an atheist, but I think it was only very recently that I can really tell that there’s nobody there with a copybook making marks against your name.”
For schooling, Olds was sent east, to Dana Hall School, an all-girls school for grades 6 to 12 in Wellesley, Massachusetts that boasts an impressive list of alumnae. There she studied mostly English, History, and Creative Writing.
Her favorite poets included William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Edna St. Vincent Millay, but it was Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems which she carried in her purse through tenth grade.
Sharon Olds Personal life
On March 23, 1968, Sharon Olds married Dr. David Douglas Olds in New York City and, in 1969, gave birth to the first of their two children. In 1997, after 29 years of marriage, they divorced, and Olds moved to New Hampshire, though she commutes to New York three days a week.
There, she lives in the same Upper West Side apartment she has lived in for the past 40 years while working as a Professor at New York University. In New Hampshire, she lives in Graylag Cabins in Pittsfield with her partner of seven years, Carl Wallman, a former cattle breeder.
In 2005, First Lady Laura Bush invited Olds to the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Olds responded, declining the invitation in an open letter published in the October 10, 2005 issue of The Nation. Read also Alexandra Field
“So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame for the current regime of blood, wounds, and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it”.
Sharon Olds Poetry
Sharon Olds Following her Ph.D. on Emerson’s prosody, Olds let go of an attachment to what she thought she ‘knew about’ poetic convention. Freed up, she began to write about her family, abuse, sex, focusing on the work, not the audience.
Olds has commented that she is more informed by the work of poets such as Galway Kinnell, Muriel Rukeyser, and Gwendolyn Brooks than by confessional poets like Anne Sexton or Sylvia Plath. Plath, she comments “was a great genius, with an IQ of at least double mine” and while these women charted well the way of women in the world she says “their steps were not steps I wanted to put my feet in.”
When Olds first sent her poetry to a literary magazine she received a reply saying, “This is a literary magazine. If you wish to write about this sort of subject, may we suggest the Ladies’ Home Journal? The true subjects of poetry are… male subjects, not your children.”
Olds eventually published her first collection, Satan Says, in 1980, at the age of 37. Satan Says sets up the sexual and bodily candour that would run through much of her work. In “The Sisters of Sexual Treasure” she writes,
As soon as my sister and I got out of our mother’s house, all we wanted to do was fuck, obliterate her tiny sparrow body and narrow grasshopper legs. The collection is divided into four sections: “Daughter”, “Woman”, “Mother”, “Journeys”. These titles echo the familial influence that is prevalent in much of Olds’ work.
The Dead and the Living was published in February 1984. This collection is divided into two sections, “Poems for the Dead” and “Poems for the Living”. The first section begins with poems about global injustices. These injustices include the Turkish Massacre of the Armenians during WWI, the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, the reign of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, and even the death of Marilyn Monroe.
Olds’ book The Wellspring (1996), shares with her previous work the use of raw language and startling images to convey truths about domestic and political violence and family relationships. A reviewer for The New York Times hailed her poetry for its vision: “Like Whitman, Ms.
Olds sings the body in celebration of a power stronger than political oppression.” Alicia Ostriker noted Olds traces the “erotics of family love and pain. Ostriker continues: “In later collections, [Olds] writes of an abusive childhood, in which miserably married parents bully and punish and silence her.
She writes, too, of her mother’s apology “after 37 years”, a moment when “The sky seemed to be splintering like a window/ someone is bursting into or out of” Olds’ work is anthologized in over 100 collections, ranging from literary/poetry textbooks to special collections.
Her poetry has been translated into seven languages for international publications. She has been published in Beloit Poetry Journal. She was the New York State Poet Laureate for 1998–2000.
Stag’s Leap was published in 2013.
The poems were written in 1997, following the divorce from her husband of 29 years. The poems focus on her husband, and even sometimes his mistress. The collection won the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. She is the first American woman to win this award. It also won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Her most recent publication is Odes (2016).
Sharon Olds Critique
Sharon Olds Author Michael Ondaatje says of her work, “Sharon Olds’s poems are the pure fire in the hands, risky, on the verge of falling, and in the end, leaping up. I love the roughness and humor and brag and tenderness and completion in her work as she carries the reader through rooms of passion and loss.”
The New York Times noted in 2009 her “Olds selects intense moments from her family romance usually ones involving violence or sexuality or both and then stretches them in opposite directions, rendering them in such obsessive detail that they seem utterly unique to her personal experience, while at the same time using metaphor to insist on their universality.”
Charles Bainbridge stated in The Guardian, “She has always confronted the personal details of her life with remarkable directness and honesty, but the key to her success is the way this material is lit up by a range of finely judged shifts in scale and perspective. Her poems are vivid morality plays, wrestling with ideas of right and wrong, full of symbolic echoes and possibilities.”
In 2010 critic Anis Shivani commented, “Stylistically invariant since 1980, she writes about the female body in a deterministic, shamanistic, medieval manner. Infantilization packaged in pseudo-confession is her specialty.
Her poetry defines feminism turned upon itself, chewing up it’s own hot and bothered cadaver, exposed since the 1970s. Female poets in workshops around the country idolize her, collaborate in the masochism because they say she freed them to talk about taboo subjects, she “empowered” them… Has given confessionalism such a bad name it can’t possibly recover.”
Sharon Olds Women’s Movement
She did not participate in the Women’s Movement at but she says, “My first child was born in 1969. In 1968 the Women’s Movement in New York City, especially among a lot of women I knew, was very alive. I had these strong ambitions to enter the bourgeoisie if I could.
I wasn’t a radical at all. But I do remember understanding that I had never questioned that men had all the important jobs. And that was shocking well, I was twenty years old! I’d never thought, “Oh, where’s the woman bus driver?” So there’s another subject which was what it felt like to be a woman in the world.”
Sharon Olds Honors and awards
- 2002 Academy of American Poets Fellowship
- 2002 The Unswept Room, Nominee for National Book Award in the Poetry category
- 2003 Judge, Griffin Poetry Prize; for “distinguished poetic achievement at mid-career”
- 2004 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Awards
- 2004 Became member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- 2006–2012 Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets
- 2009 One Secret Thing, shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize
- 2012 T.S. Eliot Prize, Stag’s Leap
- 2012 Stag’s Leap, named as one of “Oprah’s Favorite Reads of 2012”
- 2013 Pulitzer Prize, Stag’s Leap
- 2014 Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry
- 2015 Elected to become a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (to be inducted mid-May 2015)
- 2016 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets
Sharon Olds Bibliography Collections
- 1987 The Gold Cell, Knopf ISBN 978-0394747705
- 1987 The Matter of This World, Slow Dancer Press ISBN 978-0950747989
- 1991 The Sign of Saturn, Secker & Warburg ISBN 978-0436200298
- 1992 The Father, Secker & Warburg ISBN 978-0679740025
- 1996 The Wellspring, Knopf ISBN 978-0679765608
- 1999 Blood, Tin, Straw, Knopf ISBN 978-0375707353
- 2002 The Unswept Room, Tandem Library ISBN 978-0375709982
- 2004 Strike Sparks: Selected Poems 1980–2002, Knopf ISBN 978-0375710766
- 2008 One Secret Thing, Random House ISBN 978-0375711770
- 2012 Stag’s Leap, Knopf ISBN 978-0375712258
- 2016 Odes, Knopf ISBN 978-0451493644
- 2017 Penguin Modern Poets 3: Your Family, Your Body by Malika Booker, Sharon Olds, Warsan Shire. Penguin. ISBN 014198402