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1. Strike Sparks: Selected Poems,
2. Gold Cell (Knopf Poetry Series)
3. One Secret Thing
4. Blood, Tin, Straw: Poems
5. The Dead and the Living
6. Satan Says (Pitt Poetry Series)
7. The Unswept Room
8. The Father
9. What Love Comes To: New &
10. The Wellspring: Poems
11. What Does an Elegy Do? (The Judith
12. Selected Poems. Sharon Olds
13. Penguin Modern Poets: Liz Lochhead,
14. Nobody Ever Died of Old Age
15. Blood, Tin, Straw
16. The Earliest English: An Introduction
17. The Old Greek Translation of Daniel
18. The matter of this world: New
19. Imagining Incest: Sexton, Plath,
20. The Orgy

1. Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002
by Sharon Olds
Paperback: 208 Pages (2004-09-28)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$8.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375710760
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
A powerful collection from one of our most gifted and widely read poets-117 of her finest poems drawn from her seven published volumes.

Michael Ondaatje has called Sharon Olds's poetry "pure fire in the hands" and cheered the "roughness and humor and brag and tenderness and completion in her work as she carries the reader through rooms of passion and loss." This rich selection exhibits those qualities in poem after poem, reflecting, moreover, an exciting experimentation with rhythm and language and a movement toward an embrace beyond the personal. Subjects are revisited-the pain of childhood, adolescent sexual stirrings, the fulfillment of marriage, the wonder of children-but each recasting penetrates ever more deeply, enriched by new perceptions and conceits.

Strike Sparks is a testament to this remarkable poet's continuing and amazing growth.

From the Hardcover edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Marvelous Collection
Sharon Olds is an excellent poet, and this collection makes a grand introduction for anyonewho is not already familiar with her work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful Writing
Sharon Olds is an incredible poet, and should be read by anyone interested in current poetry. The poems in Strike Sparks are powerful language evoking clear visuals and strong feelings. The seeming simplicity of her writing style, coupled with her focused attention, leaves one wanting to turn each page and absorb yet another. At the same time, she has a wonderful sense of humor--the first page that flipped open when I first picked up the book was "The Pope's Penis." How can you not explore further after that?!

5-0 out of 5 stars The most accessible -- and thrilling -- poet now writing
Her father is dying, and her plane's been cancelled, but there's another, leaving in just a few minutes, not in this terminal, but it will get her to her father before he dies, and so Sharon Olds runs --- I swear to you, she runs as no woman has ever run before.

She's making love. Though it looks like she's having sex, because the writing is so specific. But as much as Sharon Olds revels when he does [redacted] to her and she [redacted], she's clear what's really going on. ("How do they do it, the ones who make love without love?" she wonders.) And so, after, she knows what women know after.

Her son, he's so big now. And her daughter --- brushing her hair, Sharon Olds can't help thinking: What does it all mean?

Parents, lovers/husbands, children. Sharon Olds deals mostly --- I could almost say: deals only --- with the big topics. At least, the big topics if you have parents, husbands/lovers and kids. And she deals with them so directly, so bluntly, that it may come as a surprise to those who do not know her writing that she is a poet, and, for my money, the best we have.

The subject of a lot of poetry is poetry: the poem taking its place --- or wanting to --- in the great chain of literature. Sharon Olds has done her reading. And she has her influences. But the beauty of her writing is that you see none of that. All you get is a woman, looking and listening, and then talking. "Do what you are going to do, and I will tell you about it," she writes at the end of a poem about her parents, and that's the strength of her work --- it's just the facts she thinks you need, plus her take on them.

Sharon Olds can go this deep because she lives this deep. She does not read newspapers or watch TV. "The amount of horror one used to hear about in one village could be quite extreme," she explains. "But one might not have heard about all the other villages' horrors at the same time." Also, she doesn't drink coffee or smoke, and she limits her wine. Her life is marriage, kids, work. Which, she says, accounts for accessibility of her poems:

"I think that my work is easy to understand because I am not a thinker. How can I put it? I write the way I perceive, I guess. It's not really simple, I don't think, but it's about ordinary things -- feeling about things, about people. I'm not an intellectual, I'm not an abstract thinker. And I'm interested in ordinary life. So I think that our writing reflects us."

"Strike Sparks" is a selection of her poems from 1980 to 2002. It tells a story, though that wasn't her intent along the way. ("I'm just interested in human stuff like hate, love, sexual love and sex. I don't see why not.") In these poems, we follow the dying of a father, the growth of children, the deepening of love through sex. And more. Because Sharon Olds mostly does what the greatest poets do: She knows what you feel, but can't find the words to say.

5-0 out of 5 stars Support from a chronic fan
As one of Olds' fans for many years, I am the owner of most of her books. Her book The Father still brings me to tears. I want to buy this additional one in support, as are others, of her letter to Laura Bush--and of her ongoing brilliance and honesty as a poet.

5-0 out of 5 stars Support of Sharol Olds
After reading her letter to Mrs. Bush, I'm supporting Sharon Old's rejection of Laura Bush's invitation to participate in the National Book Festival and breakfast at the White House by buying one of her books.Thank you, Sharon Olds for making this brave and costly stand.I hope others will buy your books to support you and your honesty.I look forward to becoming acquainted with your poetry. ... Read more

2. Gold Cell (Knopf Poetry Series)
by Sharon Olds
Paperback: 112 Pages (1987-02-12)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$7.59
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394747704
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A new collection by the much praised poet whose second book THE DEAD AND THE LIVING, was both the Lamont Poetry Selection for 1983 and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book
I became aware of the book while watching the movie "Into The Wild" and was intrigued by the passages read in the movie, so I had to get the book.
Was not dissapointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Whoa.
I've never read poetry this honest, this heart-wrenching, this intense, this passionate, this realistic, this humorous, this painful... I could go on for ages, but it would turn into drooling dribble.Olds is amazingly talented.Her work is graphic, as real life is, and not to be taken lightly.Buy it, commit to reading it, appreciate her world view.

5-0 out of 5 stars you need this
Emily Dickinson once said something to the extent of, that when she felt that the top of her head had been taken off, she knew that was true poetry. That's how I felt while reading The Gold Cell, and I assure you, that's a great thing. This is an incredibly powerful read and well worth your time.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Exhilarating Read, But Not For Everyone. . .
Sharon Olds delves deeply into the heart of what it means to be human in her collection of poems, "The Gold Cell."I am continually amazed as to how she deals with taboo subjects, such as sex, religion, and morality, with direct and shockingly vivid language.In this particular collection of poems, Olds uses the image of blood to represent various motifs;the blood between family ties, its relation to sex and the body, and even the patriotic sense and the "Americaness" of blood.Using this single word, Olds is able to create an infinite number of images and meanings that go far beyond the common notion that blood is what supplies the body with life. This is by far one of the most influential books of poetry that I have encountered in my career.I do not recommend it to those who are squimish or who are prone to heart-failure at the mention of the word "sex" or "penis."While most of her poems are alluring and evocative, many will shock you with their unabashed treatment of sensitive subjects.For those of you who wish to divulge into the mind of what it means to be human, I whole-heartedly recommend this collection of poetry.Olds' poems not only examine what it means to be human but what it means to be moral beings.Prepare for a journey that will reveal the emotional and raw psychology of the human mind.

5-0 out of 5 stars Visceral, haunting imagery
As in her other volumes of poetry, Olds is a masterful documenter of the flesh.No living American poet writes as authentically about the body as she does -- the exquisite descriptions of sexuality (First Sex isparticularly good), motherhood, and aging are not easily forgotten.In myfavorite, California Swimming Pool, she captures adolescence so succinctlyand alluringly that my own experience of 13 came rocketing back into myconsciousness with an intensity which shocked me.Of all her volumes ofpoetry, this is my favorite. ... Read more

3. One Secret Thing
by Sharon Olds
Paperback: 112 Pages (2008-09-30)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$8.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375711775
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Sharon Olds completes her cycle of family poems in a book at once intense and harmonic, playful with language, and rich with a new self-awareness and sense of irony.

The opening poem, with its sequence of fearsome images of war, serves as a prelude to poems of home in which humor, anger, and compassion sing together with lyric energy—sometimes comic, sometimes filled with a kind of unblinking forgiveness. These songs of joy and danger—public and private—illuminate one another. As the book unfolds, the portrait of the mother goes through a moving revisioning, leading us to a final series of elegies of hard-won mourning. One Secret Thing is charged throughout with Sharon Olds’s characteristic passion, imagination, and poetic power.

The doctor on the phone was young, maybe on his
first rotation in the emergency room.
On the ancient boarding-school radio,
in the attic hall, the announcer had given my
boyfriend’s name as one of two
brought to the hospital after the sunrise
service, the egg-hunt, the crash—one of them
critical, one of them dead. I was looking at the
stairwell banisters, at their lathing,
the necks and knobs like joints and bones,
the varnish here thicker here thinner—I had said
Which one of them died, and now the world was
an ant’s world: the huge crumb of each
second thrown, somehow, up onto
my back, and the young, tired voice
said my fresh love’s name.

from “Easter 1960” ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Share her secret
Sharon Olds writes beautiful poetry. This collection in particular brings out the range of her work. They are personal, private, provocative, and studied. It is almost like having a discussion about old times with your best friend. She seems to touch on shared experiences, common emotions, and a touch of social history. Perhaps it is because we are contemporaries or that we share many similar experiences, but I find myself returning to her poetry over and over again. She is one of the great modern American poets and commands respect. But much more than that she reaches out to her readers. She says this is the way I handled this maybe it will help you. The purists, who insist on form, scan, and such, might not appreciate the beauty and value of her poetry. But make no mistake, it is poetry and it is beautiful, personal, and useful. What ever your reaction, you will have one, and you should consider it carefully.

3-0 out of 5 stars Picking through one own's life middens
There is much to be said for picking through one own's life middens with a poetic tweezer - acknowledging life's warts, quirks, and farts: ecce humus hac ecce homus. At its best quiet, rather than heroic dignity of the animal in us obtains.
Sharon Olds has found such dignity in past books - and some of her poems are oustanding. The danger is that such poetry may become self-referential. There can be narcissism in contemplating one's own nose pickings. She has not escaped this curse fully this time.
Few artists have tackled successfully the theme of mental and physical decay. Ferdinand Hodler's obsessive sketches of his wife's dying face, as she lay ravaged by terminal cancer, say more about life and love than Renoir's fragrant, and in the end vacuously repetitive portraits of youth.
The last days of Olds' mother are the theme of numerous poems in the later part of this book. It is a difficult theme, for all to esily the living betray the breaking babble of the parting to settle personal accounts. The poem that gives the title to the collection ends with the line: "...my last chance to free myself". Way too much `I'.

5-0 out of 5 stars hard-won and beautifully seen
Actually I don't this IS a dark book. It works very hard to accomodate the illness and death of the poet's mother, to find moments of grace and of tenderness in what seems to have been a difficult life and a relationship characterized by struggle. As in all of Olds's work, there's a sort of examination in service of redemption going on here -- a looking hard at the stuff that experience offers, so we can find it what can be embraced or heldas good. I think that readers struck by the emotional force of this poet's work sometimes don't see how deeply moral it is -- that quest for what can be affirmed, and how a world in which violence or pain is dealt out can also be a location of blessing.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not sure how I feel
I think Olds is a wonderful poet. This selection of poems are very dark and some are very disturbing. They servetheir purpose but they are painful. ... Read more

4. Blood, Tin, Straw: Poems
by Sharon Olds
Paperback: 144 Pages (1999-10-05)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$6.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375707352
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Winner of the 2000 Paterson Poetry Prize

"She has written without embarrassment or apology, with remarkable passion and savagery and nerve, poems about family and family pathology, early erotic fascination, and sexual life inside marriage."
--Amy Hempel

Sharon Olds divides this new book into five sections--"Blood," "Tin," "Straw," "Fire," and "Light"--each made up of fourteen poems whose dominant imagery is drawn from one of these
elements. The poems are rooted in different moments of an ordinary life and weave back and forth in time. Each section suggests the progression of the making of a soul cleansed by blood, forged by fire, suffused by light. Unafraid to confront the ecstatic or the brutal side of a woman's experience, Sharon Olds transforms her subjects with an alchemist's art, using language that is alternately casual and startling, fierce and transcendent.

This is an intensely moving collection by one of our finest poets.Amazon.com Review
In such previous collections as The Gold Cell and The Dead and the Living,Sharon Olds tends to draw her impetus from the sexual landscape. The same might be said of the poems in Blood, Tin, Straw. Here,however, the libido is less invariably at center stage. Instead, Oldsembraces her favorite subject--the body--in many different guises: as anobject of love, desire, reproduction, and decay.

At its best, Blood, Tin, Straw captures effervescent moments withdelectable poignancy. In "The Necklace," for example, the narrator recallsa falling strand of pearls that "spoke in oyster Braille on my chest." (Shelikens the pearls to the snake in the Garden of Eden, yet this beadedserpent seems more intimately related to her own family romance.) And in"My Father's Diary"--itself a strange precursor to the poems in The Father--Oldsidentifies the chronicle of a life with its departed creator:

My father dead, who had left me
these small structures of his young brain--
he wanted me to know him, he wanted
someone to know him.
Still, Olds has a tendency to trip over her own misspent innuendo. One poemin particular, "Coming of Age, 1966," collapses under the weight of afabricated personal nostalgia, as the poet conflates her own writer's blockwith Nick Ut's famous photograph of a napalmed Vietnamese girl: "Everytime / I tried to write of the body's gifts, / the child with her clothesburned off by napalm / ran into the poem screaming." Olds pins the blamefor this atrocity (and for her writer's block!) on Lyndon Johnson. Yet thephoto dates from 1972, which lets LBJ off the hook and points the finger atRichard Nixon. It may seem ludicrous to condemn a poem for being factuallyincorrect. However, the entire argument here is predicated upon Johnson'sculpability in delaying the narrator's "entrance into the erotic."Offensive and overwrought, "Coming of Age, 1966" exemplifies Olds's worstpoetic impulses. She does, it should be said, retain much of her appeal inBlood, Tin, Straw. Yet there's still a sense that she's substitutinga tried-and-true trademark for her customary, earnest ease.--RyanKuykendall ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

3-0 out of 5 stars Is everyone else reading the same book?
Sharon Olds, unflinchingly, has written the same poem over and over again and called it a book.It's one thing to write with the same topic in mind, but each poem seems like an exact duplicate from the one that precedes it, never giving any new insight.

The language is often strong, but the New Republic put it best:

"Sharon Olds's poems are certainly everything that testimony should be: sincere, resounding, unambiguous, consolatory. But just as certainly they are not art."

5-0 out of 5 stars not just carbon based
The words of Olds' poems in this book encompass such daring, personal subjects that I was left stunned.Who else but Sharon Olds could make a beautiful poem about watching menstrual blood flow into the toilet by comparing it to ballet dancers? Who else would push the enevelope of public disgust enough to compare vaginal secretion and diamonds?She speaks and glorifies the unmentionable and ugly.In this way, she truly remakes the female body as she writes of it.The experience of reading Olds is not just intellectual; it is a visceral enlightenment.

5-0 out of 5 stars Life, at its best, is poetry
Sharon is a relative of mine, but before I knew that I knew her poetry. Again and again she has inspired me with the power she puts into her poetry--this collection is purely that, a collection, and claims to benothing more, which is perhaps the most powerful aspect of her work. I lookat my work and hers, and no one could deny that we think on the samewavelength...but yet....there is something unexplainable in her poems thatI can never grasp, and that she rules.

5-0 out of 5 stars She Gives Her Soul
to every poem and thus, the reader. Old's newest book of poems has given me the light to transcend the hoi poloi of ordinary verse. Long live a true vates!

5-0 out of 5 stars Sharon Olds, the double, double dare of poets
This book of poetry is unique both in style and content.I am reminded of a statement made by Sharon Olds in a reading of hers that I attended where she was talked about her surprise when another poet revealed to her thatthe events in one of his poems never occurred.When he turned it aroundand asked if everything she wrote about came from personal experience, sheresponse was, "Well, of course, always."However, it isn'tsimply the fact that she writes from her life's experience, because thatcan be said of many of the poets writing today.It is the honesty and therevelation wrought from her experiences that make her work like a fourdimensional object, where one is not expecting the angle that one gets asthe object turns.

There is also another kind of surprise that occurs inalmost every poem.It is an undercurrent of violence, violence intimated,violence implied, violence thought, and violence that has occurred.Andyet, the violence in Olds' work does not quite meet our expectations, whichhave been shaped and pounded by a deluge of film, news and docudrama.Oldsdoesn't seem to want to shock us, because she makes us believe that thereis only one sensible conclusion.She accomplishes this by the depth andoriginality of each argument. There is such a purity of revelation behindeach statement that the reader finds himself spellbound by the rationale,and privileged to find himself a new member of her sublime revolution. ... Read more

5. The Dead and the Living
by Sharon Olds
Paperback: 96 Pages (1984-02-12)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$6.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394715632
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The 1983 Lamont poetry selection of the Academy of American Poets. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic collection
As always, Sharon Olds uses language in a thought-provoking, erotic, yet accessible way for her readers. Her poems are heavy, without weighing you down. She gives voice to our innermost thoughts, fears and desires, ones we didn't know we had until we've read her poetry and nod our heads in compassion and commiseration.

5-0 out of 5 stars Polarizing... her writing
I personally like her work and I think The Dead and the Living is best of her work.Other books seems to carry on her train of thought and her style in repetition, kinda like reviewing music.Some band has that same sound and once you've heard it, all their albums sound the same.Poetry is a lot like music; you either like her style or you don't as witnessed by many negative reviews here. I understand that one may not like her book or style; I'm just taken back by the vindictiveness and the personal nature of the attacks. I'm no poet, or claim to be a poetry teacher, so I'm not going to go into details of deconstructing her poetry and her style or subject matter. Not all of her poems here are gems; there are some duds in the book as well.All I can say is, judge for yourself; I think her writing is excellent enough that it at least merits consideration.I count her as one of the best of her generation in contemporary poetry.

3-0 out of 5 stars Olds is a fine writer when she doesn't let the message get in the way of the poem.
Sharon Olds, The Dead and the Living (Knopf, 1984)

Sometimes I wonder why I keep trying Sharon Olds books. I generally know what I'm going to get, and it's quite often political screed broken into short lines to resemble poetry:

"You are speaking of Chile,
of the woman who was arrested
with her husband and their five-year-old son.
You tell how the guards tortured the woman, the man, the child,
in front of each other,
'as they like to do.'"
("Things That Are Worse Than Death")

I fail to see what's poetic about it. If you took out the line breaks and read it as prose, there would be no difference whatsoever. Worse, in this volume, Olds also turns the same lack of poetic effect to the confessional poem:

"My bad grandfather wouldn't feed us.
He turned the lights out when we tried to read.
He sat alone in the invisible room
in front of the hearth, and drank."
("The Eye")

To offer a more concrete criticism here, why on earth was the word "bad" not excised in the first line? Did she not think it was obvious? (This may seem a minor criticism to you; rest assured most poets will, when faced with a more difficult decision than this one, agonize over such a thing for days, if not weeks.)

Every once in a while, though, this book does offer up a flash that makes me remember why, in fact, I do keep trying Sharon Olds books: because when she's on her game, the woman can really write. It is unfortunate that she's not often on her game; she lets the message get in the way of the medium on a frequent basis. But there's always just enough of the great writing to balance out the awful writing, and thus I remain trapped in this indecision as to whether I should read yet another Sharon Olds book. This one hasn't pushed me one way or the other. ** ½

3-0 out of 5 stars Gutsy Olds
If you are reading this you have probably already read Sharon Olds, and liked her enough to go back and look at some of her earlier works, but are fighting a tinge of reservation.Olds can be admired for the sheer raw guts she puts into her poems, the brutal way she expresses her internalized truths.Her honesty is alarming and alluring.But there can be a pariah quality to her, as well.I want to say she has a touch of Madonna in her ethos.At times she can seem to be sneering.This would be insulting, except her writing is so good we want to forgive her, and do - mostly.I find it frustrating when this tone creeps in, as it does here in one or two places.Another disquieting aspect of her writing is the inclusion of some very intimate aspects of her children at various ages and phases.I appreciate her words for their beauty but wonder if her children resent so much exposure.Fortunately, most of the poems in this book are full of clear, blunt prose that revoke the layers of artificiality that can come to accompany our memories of ourselves and the more painful aspects of our personal histories.I find her poems refreshing for this quality (even though thank God I don't have her history).So, although not all poems in this book avoid a self-aggrandizing, mock horror edge, and a few may upset tender sensibilities about what information we need to know about her children in order to understand her as a mother/writer, I enjoyed this book and would even recommend it to readers who have already formed some apprehension toward her work.

1-0 out of 5 stars THE DEAD AND THE LIVING
I would give this book 0 stars if that were listed on your chart.

Based on this book, titled THE LIVING AND THE DEAD I believe
that Sharon Olds is a very much in need of professional help.

I have read other poetry of hers, as well, and have the same
opinion of it.Frankly, I don't see why Knopf published it.
Maybe they need help too.

Do not recommend this book to anyone. ... Read more

6. Satan Says (Pitt Poetry Series)
by Sharon Olds
Paperback: 72 Pages (1980-06-30)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0822953145
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Amazon.com Review
Commenting on Sharon Olds' debut, Linda Pastan wrote that Oldswas "clearly a poet to be reckoned with." No kidding. Olds has gone onto create an impressively bold body of work. Notice here "The Languageof the Brag," in which Olds describes the heroic deed of childbirth: "Ihave done what you wanted to do Walt Whitman/ . . . this glisteningverb,/and I am putting my proud American boast/ right here with theothers." Amen. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Woman's Heart on Paper
I was introduced to Sharon Olds' poetry by her poem about birth, "The Language of the Brag".After reading her magnficent retort in the last verse to Whitman and Ginsberg, "I have done what you wanted to do Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, I have done this thing, I and the other women this exceptional act with the exceptional heroic body, this giving birth, this glistening verb, and I am putting my proud American boast right here with the others," I was a true fan of her honest, heartfelt poems.

She writes what every woman thinks but cannot or will not put into words on paper.I'm reminded of the quote my Muriel Rukeyser:"What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?The world would split open."

Sharon Olds' poems rip us open. They tear at our very being, but most of all, they tell one woman's truth, which becomes every woman's truth.We are taught to be polite, don't make waves, fit in...but Ms. Olds banishes the old stereotypes and pours the very blood in her heart out onto the paper over her words and splits the myths and fallacies wide open.

Do not read this book if you're expecting flowery verse.It's for people willing to have their soul and spirit touched and changed----for the better.

5-0 out of 5 stars A praise and a warning
I had a friend read another collection of Sharon Olds poems and then told me, "I tried to read it at work, but I couldn't because all the poems were about sex! Not just a few, but all of them!" My friend was right, in a way. (And, in case you're wondering, I tried to warn her.) Most of the poems that Sharon Olds writes have something to do with sex. But I think it's more like these poems look at everything through the lens of sexuality rather than simply being sex-obsessed.

I have both a praise and a warning about these poems. The amazing thing beyond the skill with which Sharon Olds crafts her poetry and the power of the images she uses is her ability to look at things that the rest of us close our eyes to or else just never ever talk about. She is able to write poetry about the sexuality of her parents and theirs and the sexuality of her children as well. I can understand how for some people this can be very disconcerting. Sharon Olds walks through important societal taboos as if they simply didn't exist. But it doesn't seem to me to be simply about the shock value. It's just the lens that she uses to make sense of things. She uses it very well.

3-0 out of 5 stars Some of the darkest poetry you will ever read
The poetry in this collection is dark, very dark. There are depictions of child abuse, murder, sexual promiscuity, drug abuse and domestic violence. For example, the first part of the poem that begins on page 6 is

The year of the mask of blood, my father hammering on the glass door to get in was the year they found her body in the hills, in a shallow grave, naked, white as mushroom, partially decomposed, raped, murdered, the girl from my class.

That was the year my mother took us and hid us so that he could not get at us when she told him to leave; so there were no more tyings by the wrist to the chair, no more denial of food or the forcing of foods, the head held back, down the throat at the restaurant, the shame of vomited buttermilk down the sweater with its shame of new breasts.

The poem with the title "The Language of the Brag" depicts childbirth, yet it does not describe a happy event. There are no happy events described in this book, what you see here is some of the most brutal sides of life. If you are comfortable with reading about such things, then you can enjoy this poetry. However, if you prefer some sweetness and light, even if it has to be sugar-coated, then you will not like these poems.

5-0 out of 5 stars A poet of shocking and beautiful honesty
"Satan Says" is the first collection of Olds' poetry which I have read (although I've come across her poems once or twice in anthologies).I found the poems in "Satan Says" to be not only startling and brutally honest, but beautifully crafted as well.Her work reminded me greatly of Marie Howe, another female poet writing on (among other things) the body's oft-ignored sensuality even in the face of an abusive world (or family).Her poems seem to fuse the simple craftsmanship and observational talents of haiku with the frankness of Anne Sexton, giving us a treatise as much related to the body, childbirth, sexuality, dying, and aggression as to metaphysics.Genuine and powerful, highly recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Beginning
This collection handles even the most disturbing personal matters in wayswhich are both accessible and enlightening to the reader.As human andinspired as her later books. ... Read more

7. The Unswept Room
by Sharon Olds
Paperback: 144 Pages (2002-09-24)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$9.85
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Asin: 0375709983
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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From Sharon Olds—a stunning new collection of poems that project a fresh spirit, a startling energy of language and counterpoint, and a moving, elegiac tone shot through with humor.

From poems that erupt out of history and childhood to those that embody the nurturing of a new generation of children and the transformative power of marital love, Sharon Olds takes risks, writing boldly of physical, emotional, and spiritual sensations that are seldom the stuff of poetry.

These are poems that strike for the heart, as Sharon Olds captures our imagination with unexpected wordplay, sprung rhythms, and the disquieting revelations of ordinary life. Writing at the peak of her powers, this greatly admired poet gives us her finest collection.

From the Hardcover edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

1-0 out of 5 stars THE UNSWEPT ROOM by Sharon Olds
This is not poetry!It is the rantings of a woman obsessed with herself and her anguish.I don't care.

Her verse is sexually explicit and offensive, in particular the poem titled "Sunday Night" in which she recounts the improper, what could even be considered the criminal behavior of her father towards the waitresses at the restaurants her family would frequent.What is worse, when this poem was written and published, her father was deceased, and unable to answer to these statements.I wonder if these behaviors actually took place, and, it not, why would the poet sully the name of her dead father?Also, what impact did this poem have on her mother?Perhaps Ms. Olds can write a poem to address these issues.

I cannot recommend this dreadful "poetry" to anyone.


Catherine Ross

5-0 out of 5 stars AGlimpse Over The Wall
I'm a guy, 62 years old, day job
as a herder-of-diesel mechanics
in a small shipyard. Voracious appetite
for poetry for the most recent few
years of my life.

Along now comes "The Unswept Room."

The cover art is worth the price
of the book. Inside is a voyage
that defines travel at it's apex.

I'm captured from the beginning with
Olds' fluidity, warmth, and, excuse the use
of a well-worn word in re: poetry,
her clarity.

It's not easy to penetrate the soul
of a man used for years to the
bending of wrenches.
The body of work in this book
set me up for just such a piercing.
Then early this morning, I got to
"April, New Hampshire."
Brought the salty fluid to bathe
my eyes, but none fell out.
A few pages on, "The Learner"
nailed me to wall.

I thought "The Red Queen" had taught
me more than one gender should know
about the other, from a scientific
line of sight.
Ms. Olds has taken this salty old codger
staightaway into her soul, her feminine soul.
I will be forever grateful.

Ladies--You may have kindred candles lit for you.
Gentlemen--You may learn from the light
of those candles.


5-0 out of 5 stars I've seen her read...
Despite some readership's lack of comprehension for the genuis that is Sharon Olds, I am a believer in her as art and artist. I've seen her read (at Oklahoma State University) and was held in awe by her delivery and the new poems she read to the audience. I respect her as a poet, a woman, an artist, an honest voice to depict real-life horror.Poetry is not an artifact for a reader to condemn (or praise too highly). Just observe, open yourself to the experience, and be contently uncomfortably (or uncomfortably content) in the reactions churning within yourself.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great work
Sharon Olds does not disappoint.This is my new favorite book!

5-0 out of 5 stars The evolution and experimentation of poetry
I applaud Sharon Olds for not bowing to the literati's mandate that all poetry must rhyme, be a sonnet, a villanelle, pantoum. This is free verse at its finest. It may not subscribe to a "type" but it is lyrical and poetic just the same.Poetry is evolving and many of today's writers are moving away from the strict rhyme and meter. The poetry in The Unswept Room is some of Olds' finest work. After the brilliant and harrowing poetry about her abuse as a child, this volume finds a more settled Olds starting a new chapter in her life.Bravo. ... Read more

8. The Father
by Sharon Olds
 Paperback: 88 Pages (1993-02-25)

Isbn: 0436339528
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A sequence of poems about the range of emotions the author experienced as she faced losing her father to cancer - as she confronts the knowledge of his lack of affection for her and the mounting frustrations of watching him slip away forever. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Review of The Father
The Father, by Sharon Olds is an interesting book of poems in which the reader becomes more and more involved in the intriguing love-hate relationship between a daughter and her dying father. This confessional work is a tad depressing in that Olds does not try to sugarcoat any aspect of the degradation process of her father, and yet there is something refreshing about this honesty. It is definitely a book everyone should read in order to understand the true meaning of loss, and the effect that death has on a person.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sharon Olds is a gift to the world!
Excruciating in their revelations, potent with revolution, Sharon Olds' poems approach the dominance of father over daughter with shocking force, raw intimacy, and ultimately grace.The reverberant layering of the collection's structure generates an irresistible pull into the core of self and family, from which Olds helps the reader emerge able to engage with greater transparency, and love with unlimited will.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bold View on a Father/Daughter Relationship
I agree with everything the positive reviewers said. This is a pretty bold exploration of a relationship most of us have but few of us take the time to examine. I like that Olds isn't afraid to take risks. Maybe she does repeat herself -- but that's the risk you run when you write poetry.Usually your subject is yourself and how you move inside this world and relate to other people.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Stunning, Personal Work
I first read this collection some years back, and was incredibly moved at the time.Since then, I've gone through a similiar experience in my own family, so returning to this book actually provided some sense of closure.Regardless, it is a tremendous effort, and a beautiful one.Sharon Olds is, without doubt, the best living poet in America, and that's saying a lot.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Father
This is one of the most eloquent readings I have ever come across. Ms. Olds powerful use of metaphor to describe the tormented relationship she had with her father is insightful and inspiring. This should be requiredreading for any young female (indeed people of all genders and ages)struggling to find a means for remaining not only sane, inspite of theinsanity in to which some of us are born, but how to remain caring,compassionate and creatively involved with your surroundings, despite thechaos of whatever personal hell you must survive to do so. ... Read more

9. What Love Comes To: New & Selected Poems
by Ruth Stone
Paperback: 360 Pages (2010-12-01)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$16.50
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Asin: 1556593279
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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"A collection of poems that give rich drama to ordinary experience, deepening our sense of what it means to be human."—Pulitzer Prize finalist citation

"There is a broad, powerful streak of independence—even disobedience—that runs through Stone's writing and has inspired a great number of women after her."—Guardian

Finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize, this retrospective of Ruth Stone's poetry combines the best work from twelve previous volumes with an abundance of new poems. This comprehensive selection includes early formal lyrics, fierce political poems, and meditations on her husband's suicide and her own blindness. As Sharon Olds says in her foreword, "A Ruth Stone poem feels alive in the hands—ardent, independent, restless." What Love Comes To is a necessary collection from an American original.

Can it be that
memory is useless,
like a torn web
hanging in the wind?
Sometimes it billows
out, a full high gauze—

like a canopy.
But the air passes
through the rents
and it falls again and flaps
like the ghost rag that it is—
hanging at the window
of an empty room.

Ruth Stone is the author of twelve books of poetry. Among her many awards are the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Eric Mathieu King Award, a Whiting Award, and she was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. She taught creative writing at many universities, finally settling at SUNY Binghamton. She lives in Vermont.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Writing Like Herself, to Invent the Universe
Ruth Stone's "What Love Comes To" is a fine book: new Poems (2008) and selected poems from 1959-2004. Her long career of writing poems seems short though when compared with her age (she was born in Virginia in 1915). She lives in Vermont, and her sense of place is crucial to these poems. Kansas, Virginia, Vermont, New York, California, Indiana. Wherever she's been, she's observed her surroundings well, as a naturalist, noting lilacs, trillium, iris, milkweed, and lifting leaves. She writes of woods, mountains, and "bare fields after the snow is gone."Kansas becomes Africa when "The rolled hay is like hippopotami."

"I started out in the Virginia mountains
with my grandma's pansy bed
and my Aunt Maud's dandelion wine."

She's noticed creatures of ground, water, and air - crows, caterpillars, wasps, bears, hummingbirds, bumblebees, flycatchers, warblers, worms, cats, cockroaches, blind baby mice, the hum of spiders, the husk of a locust, redwing blackbirds, globe fish, nightjars, lions, and phantom zebras. Often her poems seem more like conversational meditations than poetry, as if we're peering into the journal of a life, where words flow as if effortlessly.

"One morning you wake up in a trailer
on the Moline River.
Never mind how you got here."

Sharing her reward for an observed life, she reflects contemplatively.

"I read that the left side
reveals the true self.
My true self has been
stitched to another face.
Not even my words fit.
I listen to what the
mouth is saying,
but I write in a small
notebook -
where is the body of
this person?"

And she stays throughout this book remarkably hopeful.

"Memory becomes the exercise against loss."

I also recommend Virginia poet Dabney Stuart's new book of poems: Tables and Fred Chappell's Midquest: A Poem.

5-0 out of 5 stars Deserving of a Pulitzer
Deserving of a Pulitzer
Copper Canyon Press. 357 pages.c. 2008
Reviewed by Burgess Needle,June 24, 2008
Reading Ruth Stone's poetry is falling through Alice's magic hole and coming out into a world that's been refreshed, redesigned and realigned.The natural world will never look the same to you after Ruth Stone's poetry because you've seen the world through the eyes of a wolverine and the universe from an exploding star.Love in all its crackling flashing surfaces will surprise you again in ways you thought had been lost forever.Ruth Stone's poetry validates string theory:we're all here, there and someplace else at the same time.Buy this book, fall into it, let it envelop you. In the end, part of you returns from a parallel universe, but part of you stays there forever because Ruth Stone's poetry gives you a clarity of vision you never knew you needed and so many blurry, sepia shapes previously familiar and common are suddenly in focus and startle you with true color.In her poem "Memory" Ruth Stone asks, "Can it be that / memory is useless, / like a torn web / hanging in the wind?..." That poems continues on its own path, but this reviewer swerves away, simply saying -- WHAT LOVE COMES TOdevours memory as fodder for a galaxy of poems, each one a portal to another world. Buy this absolutely brilliant collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb. Future prize winning book!
Hi. This is my first review. I think this book is worth every penny and it will win a big prize in '08 like the national Book Award or Pulitzer. If not, Fire to Fire by Mark Doty (also his collected works will win!) What I love about this book, is that it reveals the gowth of the poet over time, as any collected works should, but it also shows how elegant, simple but poetic, and wonderful her language has been all along. She is an overlooked poet in my opinion even thow she has won a few of the prizes and Hunger Mountain (a literary journal) named a prize after her! Buy this now!Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems ... Read more

10. The Wellspring: Poems
by Sharon Olds
Paperback: 112 Pages (1996-01-30)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$6.69
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Asin: 0679765603
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Sharon Olds's dazzling new collection is a sequence of poems that reaches into the very wellspring of life. The poems take us back to the womb, and from there on to childhood, to a searing sexual awakening, to the shock of childbirth, to the wonder and humor of parenthood--and, finally, to the depths of adult love.

Always bold, musical, honest, these poems plunge us into the essence of experience. This is a highly charged, beautifully organized collection from one of the finest poets writing today.Amazon.com Review
The theme of Sharon Olds' fifth volume of poetry, TheWellspring is family and the sexual and sensual nature of the creationand sustenance of life--most often her own. From a time in her mother's lifethat preceded her own birth ("half of me/was deep in her body, dyedegg") to her father's testicles ("my brothers/and sisters arethere, swimming by the cinerous/millions") to her son (who "waitedinside me so many years/egg in my side before I was born"), her place inthe reproductive life of her family is paramount. Even when the ostensiblesubject of a poem is as public as a campus antiwar demonstration, as in"May 1968," the real topic is creation and procreation: "Themounted police moved, near us/while we sang ... /if my period did not cometonight/I was pregnant." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect
I will give the other reviews slight credence to the nasty words. some words could be considered 'nasty' words if you are a prude.but that's life.probably the most poignant and introspective book i've ever had the absolute joy to read.how vulnerable most of us would feel describing our most intimate, truthful emotions.

i'm sorry, i realize that people can disagree and not everyone is going to like similar things.but how this?

5-0 out of 5 stars Honesty, Integrity, Poetry
Sharon Olds work is always well-crafted and honest. Shocking to some, perhaps. (Evidently it does disturb Catherine Ross, whose anti Sharon Olds crusade from April of this year is so transparent--each of her neg reviews written in the same voice, though supposedly penned by different reviewers.) As a man, I have always had a great respect for Olds' writing, her views into the world and her ability to somehow transform pain from the past into something greater and more life-affirming. You will love this book, unless you are profoundly prudish.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Wellspring, by Sharon Olds
The people who wrote the incredibly off negative reviews of this book do not understand contemporary poetry.If you don't like this book because of its real world language and content, which is only a small part of the book, by the way, you are a prude or a snob.Sharon Olds rocks--she is brave and honest and writes what is real.We don't live in Victorian England or the Middle Ages anymore, do we?These poems are beautifully written and are about life--love, kids, hate, childhood, everything.Thank God poetry does not have to only be about flowers and birds and oh how lovely everything is.

1-0 out of 5 stars TERRIBLE POETRY
The only thing I can think to say about this book of poems is that they are TERRIBLE.I've never heard so may nasty words -
I mean really nasty, sex words, that do not belong in decent books.I feel ashamed to have read them, and cannot recommend this book to anyone.

As I was reading this book, I came across many poems that were far too sexually explicit for my taste, to name a few:"The First," "Early Images of Heaven" and "Full Summer."I found these poems to be highly offensive, and improper for the general audience.

Had I been warned of the book's sexually explicit content ahead of time, I would not have read it.I believe that it should be so marked on the cover so potential readers know what they are
getting into. ... Read more

11. What Does an Elegy Do? (The Judith Lee Stronach Memorial Lecture on the Teaching of Poetry)
by Sharon Olds
Paperback: 32 Pages (2010-04-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$13.26
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Asin: 1893663256
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The Judith Lee Stronach Memorial Lectures on the Teaching of Poetry was established in 2003 in memory of a poet and an inspired teacher of poetry to children and to the underprivileged. She is also remembered for her generosity in support of actions, world wide, to safeguard and to further Human Rights. This series of lectures on teaching poetry by distinguished poets was conceived of by her family as a contribution to the role poetry plays at Berkeley in occasions that bring the public and academic communities together. ... Read more

12. Selected Poems. Sharon Olds
by Sharon Olds
Paperback: 146 Pages (2005-10)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$13.99
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Asin: 0224076884
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Michael Ondaatje has called Sharon Olds's poetry 'pure fire in the hands', and cheered the 'roughness and humour and brag and tenderness and completion in her work as she carries the reader through rooms of passion and loss'. This rich selection - made by the author - exhibits those qualities in poem after poem, reflecting, moreover, an exciting experimentation with rhythm and language and a movement toward an embrace beyond the personal. Subjects are revisited - the pain of childhood, adolescent sexual stirrings, the fulfilment of marriage, the wonder of children - but each re-casting penetrates ever more deeply, enriched by new perceptions and conceits. A powerful distillation of the best work from one of America's most gifted and widely read poets, drawn from her seven published volumes, this is a testament to a remarkable writer's depth, range and continuing development. ... Read more

13. Penguin Modern Poets: Liz Lochhead, Roger McGough, Sharon Olds Bk. 4 (Penguin Modern Poets)
by Roger McGough, Liz Lochhead, Sharon Olds
Paperback: 152 Pages (1995-07-27)

Isbn: 0140587438
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14. Nobody Ever Died of Old Age
by Sharon R. Curtin
 Paperback: Pages (1974-04)
list price: US$7.70 -- used & new: US$354.74
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Asin: 0316165476
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15. Blood, Tin, Straw
by Sharon Olds
Paperback: 176 Pages (2000-07-27)
list price: US$16.55 -- used & new: US$12.20
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Asin: 0224060899
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Each section of this anthology suggests the progression of the making of a soul cleansed by blood, forged by fire, suffused by light. Unafraid to confront the ecstatic of the brutal side of a woman's experience, Olds transforms the subjects with an alchemist's art, using language that is casual and startling, fierce and transcendent. ... Read more

16. The Earliest English: An Introduction to Old English Language
by Chris Mccully, Sharon Hilles
Paperback: 328 Pages (2004-11-25)
list price: US$62.67 -- used & new: US$48.27
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Asin: 0582404746
Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
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A student-friendly introduction to Old English and the earliest periods of the history of the English Language as it evolved before 1215.


* Existing Introductions to Old English are now out-of-date and do not cover the subject in a student-friendly manner.  This book is a non-threatening introduction to the subject * The book is conducive to self-study because it uses exercises throughout the text to encourage active learning. *The book covers both technical linguistic aspects as well as historical aspects of the subject.
  ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

2-0 out of 5 stars A dreadfully bad textbook
THE EARLIEST ENGLISH by Chris McCully and Sharon Hilles is a textbook of Old English for undergraduate students. Unlike most Old English textbooks, this is not meant to teach the student OE's paradigms and enable him to read OE texts, but rather it aims to show the general shape of English as it first was and charts the changes which led to Middle English. There's also a great deal of historical detail on the political and cultural scene of Anglo-Saxon England.

Unfortunately, this book is very badly produced. Nothing is discussed in any meaningful detail, and students will come away from the course with little more than trivia. The authors cite lots of unscholarly literature--we find twice in two pages praise of Bill Bryson's disastrous book The Mother Tongue, a collection of misunderstandings and outright falsehoods by a writer with no training in linguistics. The Internet references are for sites found at such places as AOL, Tripod, and Geocities. And then the authors just make sloppy errors. In Chapter 2, we find "It seems that the Germanic language-family --- but not other languages or families within the IE grouping --- was subject in the remote past to a regularising stress shift." Most Indo-Europeanists will know that Latin at one point shifted the accent to the initial syllable, sometimes causing syncope.

For students with some prior training in linguistics, Roger Lass's Old English: A Historical Linguistic Companion is much more detailed, trustworthy, and readable. ... Read more

17. The Old Greek Translation of Daniel 7-12 (Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series)
by Sharon Pace Jeansonne
 Paperback: 147 Pages (1988-03)
list price: US$5.00 -- used & new: US$10.00
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Asin: 0915170183
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18. The matter of this world: New and selected poems
by Sharon Olds
 Paperback: 60 Pages (1987)

Isbn: 095074798X
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19. Imagining Incest: Sexton, Plath, Rich, and Olds on Life With Daddy
by Gale Swiontkowski
 Hardcover: 168 Pages (2004-02)
list price: US$39.50 -- used & new: US$48.46
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Asin: 1575910616
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20. The Orgy
by Muriel Rukeyser
Paperback: 160 Pages (1997-07-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$3.98
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Asin: 0963818325
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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novelized memoir of the poet's Irish visit ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars More Entertaining than an Orgy
This intensely interesting book, part fiction, part memoir, and part stream-of-consciousness writing, has such a unique premise (a trip to Ireland to research a wild festival first hand) that it would have been a great book even without a good writing style. Nevertheless, Rukeyser's startlingly vivid poetic sentences are a key reason to read this book as well. The narrator/author's observations are so detailed that the reader feels as though he or she is in Ireland with her. By some miracle, the details never slow the book down; I found myself regretting how quickly I'd gobbled down this marvelous book (two days). I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys travel memoirs, engaging novels, or prose poems. ... Read more

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