Blood, Tin, Straw: Poems

Blood, Tin, Straw: Poems

by Sharon Olds
     
 

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Winner of the 2000 Paterson Poetry Prize

"She has written without embarrassment or apology, with remarkable passion and savagery and nerve, poems about family and family pathology, early erotic fascination, and sexual life inside marriage."
--Amy Hempel

Sharon Olds divides this new book into five sections--"Blood," "Tin," "Straw," "Fire," and…  See more details below

Overview

Winner of the 2000 Paterson Poetry Prize

"She has written without embarrassment or apology, with remarkable passion and savagery and nerve, poems about family and family pathology, early erotic fascination, and sexual life inside marriage."
--Amy Hempel

Sharon Olds divides this new book into five sections--"Blood," "Tin," "Straw," "Fire," and "Light"--each made up of fourteen poems whose dominant imagery is drawn from one of these
elements. The poems are rooted in different moments of an ordinary life and weave back and forth in time. Each section suggests the progression of the making of a soul cleansed by blood, forged by fire, suffused by light. Unafraid to confront the ecstatic or the brutal side of a woman's experience, Sharon Olds transforms her subjects with an alchemist's art, using language that is alternately casual and startling, fierce and transcendent.

This is an intensely moving collection by one of our finest poets.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This sixth collection from Olds (Satan Says) revisits the obsessive roles and disturbing bodily images that have become her trademarks: she presents herself once again as lover, mother, daughter and voyeur. Olds certainly has a flair for diction, whether describing the aftermath of protected sex ("gore condom in the toilet a moment/ like a sea pet in its bowl, the eel/ taking our unconceived out to the open ocean") or the act of childbirth: "in the crush/ between the babies' skull-plates and the skin/ of the birth-gates, I wanted the symphesis/ more cherished." Anecdotes meant to shock abound. One poem records oral fixations: "I want to suck/ sweet, hot milk, with the salt/ silk of the human woman along/ my cheek." Another outlines death wishes: "I wanted to be/ fucked blind, battered half dead with it." One at a time, these scenes can be arresting; one after another, they make parts of the book as tiresomely, disappointingly repetitive as a sex therapist's case notes. Olds's arrangement of her work into five sections of fourteen poems each (the three title elements, plus "Fire" and "Light") does nothing to counter the book's overall sameness. Though she anticipates charges of narcissism with the poem "Take the I Out," Olds's descriptions of other victims can seem tactless, even predatory-a girl burned by napalm flings her "arms/ out to the sides, like a plucked heron"; the ill-fated crew of the space shuttle Challenger becomes a "burning jigsaw puzzle of flesh." Olds still suceeds, though, when she attends to her own body, where her skills continue to make her, as she writes, "a message conveyor,/ a flesh Morse." (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Olds enjoys the reputation of a phenomenon; her collections of poetry (from Satan Says onward) remain in print, discussed, and passed from hand to hand throughout the United States. Her sixth book is without doubt her strongest to date. Olds's trademark has long been her astonishing candor--about her body, her husband's body, her parents' bodies, sex before and during her marriage, fear, dread, death, and hope--and this quality is still firmly in place here, but she has added to it a new strength and lyricism of metaphor and image. In "The Lips," for instance, she playfully deploys Neoplatonic metaphysics in this paean to her husband's love: "...did he love me before/ he knew me, before I was born? Maybe/ his love drew me to earth, my head/ moved to the surface of my mother's body, and.../ I came toward him in her ribbons, through her favors." She has turned her gaze to the unearthly with touching results: "Without desire or rage/ I would watch that dust celestium as the pain/ on my matter died and turned to spirit/ and wandered the cloud world of home,/ the ashes of the earth." Olds may be relied upon to startle--she uses many words that cannot be reprinted here--but the shock she delivers is that of true poetry. For all poetry collections.--Graham Christian, formerly with Andover-Harvard Theological Lib., Cambridge, MA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Rebecca Wolff
The Poems are rich in imagery, emotional resonance and psychic verity. They are indeed art.Time Out New York

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307554758
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/05/2012
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
144
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

The Necklace


At the worst of the depression, one moment in the office,
suddenly, my necklace shifted,
flowed across some high ribs and sank down along the top of one breast as if a creature had got into my shirt,
yet I felt its will-lessness, caress of matter only, small whipper or snapper, milk or garter, just the vertebrae now, as if a stripped spine had taken its coccyx in its jaw around my throat -- s equator, and now stirred on the mortal plates.  And these were the pearls from my mother, as if she slithered along me to say, Come away from your gloom,
your father, that garden is a grave, come away,
come away -- as if some crumbs of her milquetoast,
aged and polished to a gem hardness,
spoke in oyster Braille on my chest near my own breast, suckler singing to suckler, anti-Circe my mother led me away from that trough with a light raking, over me, of her wiggly whip -- just one wobble along me, globe on her axis,
chariot-wheel of morning.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Sharon Olds was born in 1942, in San Francisco, and was educated at Stanford University and Columbia University. Her poetry has won both the Lamont Poetry Selection and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She teaches poetry workshops in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University and helps to foster the NYU workshop program at Goldwater Hospital, a state facility for the severely physically challenged. In 1998 she was named the New York State Poet Laureate for 1998 - 2000. She lives in New York City.


From the Hardcover edition.

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