Wellspring: Poems

Sharon Olds, Author
Sharon Olds, Author Alfred A. Knopf $21 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-44592-0
Reviewed on: 01/01/1996
Release date: 01/01/1996
Paperback - 88 pages - 978-0-679-76560-8
Open Ebook - 82 pages - 978-0-307-56108-4
Open Ebook - 96 pages - 978-1-4090-0193-5
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-00551-8
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The subjects covered in Olds's (The Father) new collection will be familiar to readers, as will be her uncompromising insights and the beauty of her verse. The poems of Part I address the poet's childhood and her uneasy relationship with her parents, subjects about which she continues to display the bittersweet lyricism at which she excels: ``...sometimes I thought she could/ sense bits of herself in my body/ like dots of undissolved sugar/ in a recipe that did not quite work out.'' Part II, concerned primarily with adolescence and awakening sexuality, offers perhaps the strongest grouping as Olds explores sexuality in an ``endless... apprenticeship to the mortal.'' Least effective are the poems that follow, mainly about her children and her motherhood, where even Olds's powers of microscopic observation-of both self and other-do not always lift this material out of the mundane. The last poems celebrate love in marriage, portraying the maturing of erotic and emotional bonds over time (``love is simply our element,/ it is the summer night, we are in it.'') While one might wish to see Olds taking more chances and expanding her subject matter, she does not fail to awaken us to the depth and beauty of familiar concerns. (Jan.)
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