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.
Sharon Olds was born in San Francisco, educated at Stanford and Columbia universities, and has lived for many years in New York City. Her books have won many awards over the years. Her collection Stag's Leap won the T.S. Eliot Prize and the 2013 Pulitzer Prize. In 2016 she won the Wallace Stevens award for her 'outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry'.