“Poetry is the music of being human.”
By Anna Daniels
Sharon Olds has the ability to write poetry about “unpoetic” life events with a provocative boldness. Her poem The Pope’s Penis immediately comes to mind. The results are nevertheless quite poetic in their use of form and language. She is also known for her versatility. Her poems about familial relationships can sizzle and crackle with rage and anxiety. Olds’ poems about sex are about more than what bodies do, although she describes that. Sex is wrapped in often disjunctive raw emotions. It is that coupling of body and feeling that shocks.
Ode to a Composting Toilet is an homage to the odes of Pablo Neruda in which he imbues the ordinary–a pair of socks, a tomato— with a dynamism that shifts them from prosaic object to exalted subject. Olds won Britain’s T S Eliot prize for her book Stag’s Leap (2012). In awarding the T.S. Eliot prize, Carol Ann Duffy, chair of the final judging panel, said: “… I always say that poetry is the music of being human, and in this book she is really singing.”