Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002 [NOOK Book]


A powerful collection from one of our most gifted and widely read poets?117 of her finest poems drawn from her seven published volumes.

Michael Ondaatje has called Sharon Olds?s poetry ?pure fire in the hands? and cheered the ?roughness and humor and brag and tenderness and completion in her work as she carries the reader through rooms of passion and loss.? This rich selection exhibits those qualities in poem after poem, reflecting, moreover, ...
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Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002

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A powerful collection from one of our most gifted and widely read poets–117 of her finest poems drawn from her seven published volumes.

Michael Ondaatje has called Sharon Olds’s poetry “pure fire in the hands” and cheered the “roughness and humor and brag and tenderness and completion in her work as she carries the reader through rooms of passion and loss.” This rich selection 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 fulfillment of marriage, the wonder of children–but each recasting penetrates ever more deeply, enriched by new perceptions and conceits.

Strike Sparks is a testament to this remarkable poet’s continuing and amazing growth.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307547606
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/21/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 208
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Sharon Olds was born in San Francisco and was educated at Stanford and Columbia. She was the New York State Poet Laureate from 1998 to 2000. She teaches poetry workshops in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University and was one of the founders of the NYU workshop program at Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island in New York City. Her work has received the Harriet Monroe Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Lamont Selection of the Academy of American Poets, and the San Francisco Poetry Center Award. She lives in New York City.

Sharon Olds’s The Dead and the Living; The Gold Cell; The Wellspring; The Father; Blood, Tin, Straw; and The Unswept Room are available in Knopf paperback.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Read an Excerpt


After we flew across the country we
got in bed, laid our bodies
intricately together, like maps laid
face to face, East to West, my
San Francisco against your New York, your
Fire Island against my Sonoma, my
New Orleans deep inside your Texas, your Idaho
bright on my Great Lakes, my Kansas
burning against your Kansas your Kansas
burning against my Kansas, your Eastern
Standard Time pressing into my
Pacific Time, my Mountain Time
beating against your Central Time, your
sun rising swiftly from the right my
sun rising swiftly from the left your
moon rising slowly from the left my
moon rising slowly from the right until
all four bodies of the sky
burn above us, sealing us together,
all our cities twin cities,
all our states united, one
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

First Thanksgiving

When she comes back, from college, I will see
the skin of her upper arms, cool,
matte, glossy. She will hug me, my old
soupy chest against her breasts,
I will smell her hair! She will sleep in this apartment,
her sleep like an untamed, good object, like a
soul in a body. She came into my life the
second great arrival, fresh
from the other world — which lay, from within him,
within me. Those nights, I fed her to sleep,
week after week, the moon rising,
and setting, and waxing — whirling, over the months,
in a steady blur, around our planet.
Now she doesn’t need love like that, she has
had it. She will walk in glowing, we will talk,
and then, when she’s fast asleep, I’ll exult
to have her in that room again,
behind that door! As a child, I caught
bees, by the wings, and held them, some seconds,
looked into their wild faces,
listened to them sing,
then tossed them back
into the air — I remember the moment the
arc of my toss swerved, and they entered
the corrected curve of their departure.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Table of Contents

Indictment of senior officers 3
The sisters of sexual treasure 4
Station 5
Monarchs 6
Infinite bliss 7
The language of the brag 8
The talk 10
I could not tell 11
Ideographs 15
Photograph of the girl 16
Race riot, tulsa, 1921 17
Of all the dead that have come to me, this once 18
Miscarriage 19
My father snoring 20
The moment 21
The connoisseuse of slugs 22
New mother 23
Sex without love 24
Ecstasy 25
Exclusive 26
Rite of passage 27
35/10 28
The missing boy 29
Bestiary 30
The one girl at the boys' party 31
Summer solstice, New York city 35
On the subway 37
The food-thief 39
The girl 40
The Pope's penis 42
When 43
I go back to May 1937 44
Alcatraz 45
Why my mother made me 46
After 37 years my mother apologizes for my childhood 47
Cambridge elegy 48
Topography 50
I cannot forget the woman in the mirror 51
The moment the two worlds meet 52
Little things 53
The month of June : 13 1/2 54
Looking at them asleep 55
The glass 59
His stillness 61
The lifting 62
The race 63
Wonder 65
The feelings 66
His ashes 68
Beyond harm 70
The underlife 71
Natural history 72
The ferryer 73
I wanted to be there when my father died 75
Waste sonata 77
My father speaks to me from the dead 79
My parents' wedding night, 1937 83
Japanese-American farmhouse, California, 1942 84
Killing my sister's fish 85
Mrs. Krikorian 86
First 88
Adolescence 90
May 1968 91
Bathing the new born 93
41, alone, no gerbil 94
Physics 95
My son the man 96
First formal 97
High school senior 98
The pediatrician retires 99
This hour 101
Full summer 103
Am and am not 104
True love 105
The promise 109
Know-nothing 111
Dear heart 113
19 114
That day 116
After punishment was done with me 118
What is the earth? 120
Leaving the island 121
The prepositions 123
1954 125
Cool breeze 127
For and against knowledge 129
The spouses waking up in the hotel mirror 131
You kindly 133
Where will love go? 136
The protestor 138
The summer-camp bus pulls away from the curb 139
The talkers 140
First thanksgiving 142
The native 143
The knowing 145
Kindergarten abecedarian 149
Bible study : 71 B.C.E. 150
5[cents] a peek 152
Grey girl 153
Still life in landscape 155
The wedding vow 156
His costume 158
First weeks 159
The clasp 161
Diaphragm aria 162
The window 163
Fish oil 165
Wonder as wander 166
The shyness 168
April, New Hampshire 170
The untangling 172
The learner 174
Heaven to be 176
The tending 177
Psalm 179
The unswept 181
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