Sharon Olds: TMI?
by Kellen Lambert-Veil, 8th grade student, TOPS
I recently had the great pleasure of going to see the poet Sharon Olds. There are a few things that I must point out. The first is that she is not afraid to say anything. And the second is that she seems like the kind of person that could give another person confidence in such a solid state that it could be gift-wrapped.
I had a lot of fun at the reading… if I can use that word so loosely. My mother is an English teacher at Green River Community College, and I have become quite good friends with some of her colleagues. I didn’t know who Sharon Olds was until this reading, but one of my mom’s friends did, and warned her that she should take me to see one of the poets of this series, but which one she was not exactly sure. A little snafu popped up the weekend of the reading and I ended up going to the reading with my Father. This was probably one of the most awkward experiences of my life, especially at the point with the various Odes. I enjoyed myself greatly apart from the fact that the little voice in my mind was internally whispering “oh god, oh god, oh god.” Let me assure you that the car ride home was quiet. Like I said before, I had fun, if I can use that word so loosely.
Sharon Olds is an amazing writer whose word choice and rhythm never cease to entrance and capture the listener or reader. After the reading, she explained that she cannot listen to music while writing poetry because she will often follow the rhythm of the music, and not her own “formal style.” She read a lot of poems from her book The Father, and even one that she had written about Seattle only the day before.
My recent experiences with the Seattle Arts & Lectures poetry readings, which I have attended for two years, have shown me that there are all kinds of mediums in which poetry can be expressed–different styles, forms, rhythms, and ideas–but Sharon Olds had the most appealing style to me. Her syllables were crisp and intentional, every line seemed to be planned out, even though she explained that her poetry was mostly written in one fell swoop with little revision. I loved this reading, even if it turned into sort of a fiasco. I really enjoyed it, and would advise you to read at least some of her work. It is inspiring, humorous, and refreshing. All in all, exciting.