When Sharon Olds sings truth, whether on the global or the familiar, in the resistance or in the bedroom, one cannot help but listen. Arias is her 15th collection, and its voice and range speak just as fully to her particular mind and our current humanity (or lack thereof) as ever. Smart, evocative, and exacting, her work is one of my favorite lyrical lodestars, both expanding my boundaries and attending me home.
Following her recent Odes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet gives us radical new poems of intimate life and political conscience, of race and class and a mother's violence.
The atom bomb, Breaking Bad, Rasputin, the cervix, her mother's return from the dead: the peerless Sharon Olds once again takes up subject matter that is both difficult and ordinary, elusive and everywhere. Each aria is shaped by its unique harmonics and moral logic, as Olds stands center stage to sing of sexual pleasure and chance wisdom, and faces the tragic life of our nation and our planet. "I cannot say I did not ask / to be born," begins one aria, which considers how, with what actions, with what thirst, we each ask for a turn, and receive our portion on earth. Olds delivers these pieces with all the passion, anguish, and solo force that make a great performance, in the process enlarging the soul of her reader.
About the Author
SHARON OLDS was born in San Francisco and educated at Stanford University and Columbia University. The winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and England's T. S. Eliot Prize for her 2012 collection, Stag's Leap, she is the author of eleven previous books of poetry and the winner of many other honors, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Dead and the Living. Olds teaches in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University and helped to found the NYU outreach programs, among them the writing workshop for residents of Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island, and for the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. She lives in New York City.
“Olds has the goods in this eclectic collection of new verse . . . With its expansive range and warm honesty, this book shows us why the Pulitzer Prize winner is still among the most beloved poets alive.” —Tomi Obaro, BuzzFeed
“Arias is rich with its own music . . . Olds offers gripping, vivid songs that urgently capture the preciousness of what there remains on Earth to defend, and all that has been lost . . . In [these] complex, nourishing poems, the stakes are clear: if we are on Earth, we ought to be singing.” —Maya Popa, Publishers Weekly
“[Olds] bring[s] the immensity of the world’s hurt to an intimate human level, not to simplify it but to both concentrate it and to find its odd joys. Arias offers hard-earned comfort well worth the effort.” —Barbara Egel, Booklist
“In Arias, Olds puts her honest, clear verse to work mostly outside of the body, and looks instead at the body politic, at the social body we have created or destroyed together.” —Anjanette Delgaro, New York Journal of Books