Sharon Olds will write poetry about whatever she likes, thank you

Ode to the Hymen, Ode to the Clitoris, A Celibate’s Ode to Balls, Blow Job Ode: these are not the subjects we expect women in their 70s to be paying attention to, let alone writing about. Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek. But they all feature in Odes, the latest collection from Sharon Olds. In recent years, the American poet has found critical acclaim. She won the Pulitzer Prize and the TS Eliot Prize in 2013 for Stag’s Leap, written when her husband left her after almost three decades of marriage. Last year, Olds was awarded the Academy of American Poets’ Wallace Stevens Award, which came with a $US100,000 cheque and acknowledgement she was an "American master, and a national treasure". This is not the way Olds’s poetry was received when she first began submitting it to magazines 40 years ago. "My work was not greeted with universal enthusiasm; it’s quite true," she says, laughing. "It seemed tasteless to many. I wasn’t doing it just to be shocking. These were my passionate subjects: parents, children, sexual partner, married sexual love." Olds wrote directly about her giddy delight in sex, in the pleasure […]

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