Sharon Olds Reading in the 2008 Dodge Poetry Festival Saturday Night Sampler
I am ending the series with Sharon Olds reading two poems about body parts. But are the poems really about body parts? Are any of the poems in series about the things they have purported to describe?
In The Poetics, Aristotle made the claim, "But the greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learnt from others; and it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars."
The poets featured in this series use metaphors drawn from a certain landscape or personal history to create an experience that although we not be able to share the particulars, we can understand their story on varying levels of complexity. This is the pleasure that metaphor yields.
About Sharon Olds
Sharon Olds was born in 1942 in San Francisco. She was raised as a “hellfire Calvinist”, as she describes it. 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." After graduating from Stanford University she moved east to earn a Phd in English from Columbia University on the prosody of Emerson's poems. Olds has been the recipient of many awards including the National Book Critics Circle Award and the San Francisco Poetry Center Award. She currently teaches creative writing at New York University.
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