The Father

The Father

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by Sharon Olds
     
 

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"The Father" is a sequence of poems, a daughter's vision of a father's illness and death. It chronicles these events in a connected narrative, from the onset of the illness to reflections in the years after the death. The poems are impelled by a passion to know and a freedom to follow wherever the truth may lead, and it goes into areas of feeling and experience rarely… See more details below

Overview

"The Father" is a sequence of poems, a daughter's vision of a father's illness and death. It chronicles these events in a connected narrative, from the onset of the illness to reflections in the years after the death. The poems are impelled by a passion to know and a freedom to follow wherever the truth may lead, and it goes into areas of feeling and experience rarely entered in poetry....The ebullient language, the startling images, the sense of connectedness seize us immediately. Sharon Olds transforms a harsh reality with truthfulness, with beauty, with humor—and without bitterness. The deep pain in "The Father" arises from a death, and from understanding a life. But there is joy as well. In the end, we discover we have been reading not a grim accounting but an inspiriting tragedy, transcending the personal.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
These startling poems work and rework the poet's experience of her father dying from cancer. Many take place at his deathbed, detailing the physical horror of the disease as if to exorcise it: ``When they empty out his catheter bag,/ pouring the pale, amber fluid/ into the hospital measuring cup, it is/neither good nor bad, it is only/ the body.'' But at its heart, this book is about the poet's coming to terms with a father she has hated: an alcoholic, divorced from her mother, and at times cruel and remote. Olds handles this very difficult terrain directly, without sentimentality: ``I would have traded/ places with anyone raised on love,/but how would anyone raised on love/bear this death?'' At its best, her work calls to mind James Wright's stunning leaps from the physical into prayer: ``Yes the tears came/ out like juice and sugar from the fruit--/ the skin thins and breaks and rips, there are/ laws on this earth and we live by them.'' Psalm-like, these poems make beauty from pain without softening it. For most collections.-- Ellen Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine Law Lib., New York

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679740025
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/28/1992
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
601,619
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.23(d)

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