Writing or making anything—a poem, a bird feeder, a chocolate cake—has self-respect in it. You’re working. You’re trying. You’re not lying down on the ground, having given up. And one thing I love about writing is that we can speak to the absent, the dead, the estranged and the longed-for—all the people we’re separated from. We can see them again, understand them more, even say goodbye.
Sharon Olds, from here
I love to be a little
disgusting, to go as far as I can
into the thrilling unloveliness
of an elderwoman’s aging.
Sharon Olds , Ode (from here)
She [ Sharon Olds] is no longer evasive, as she once was, about the fact that her poems are based on her own experience. “It never crossed my mind anyone would think that anyone would make up the stuff I was writing about,” she told me. But she is deeply protective of that experience; her inability to talk about many of the same aspects of her life that her readers feel themselves most familiar with is as pronounced as an allergy or a phobia. “I think I can only communicate about that time in poems,” she said, after a pause, when I asked her a question about her childhood. Later, when I wanted to know what kinds of families her parents had come from, Olds demurred. “The edge of the cliff! It’s crumbling!” she said, flapping her hands as if to keep herself from tumbling off a precipice. I tried again, asking how her parents met—or, rather, I asked if I could ask. Olds looked at me with game good humor. “No!” she said, letting out a peal of laughter.
Alexandra Schwartz, Sharon Olds Sings the Body Electric: The poet discusses her new collection in praise of everything from tampons to oral sex.
The New Yorker , Sept 22 2016 (from here)
At a high school once, during the Q & A following a reading I gave, a discussion of autobiographical or not autobiographical, a student said: ‘If I thought you’d made up all the stuff in your poems, I’d be really mad at you.’ And I knew how he felt, and in his place I’d feel the same way. It had not crossed my mind really that anyone would make up a life, make up these stories – it seemed so obvious to me they were being told, sung, from some inner necessity that rose in an actual life. But at that point I couldn’t come out and say that, I think I had some idea I was protecting someone, I’m not sure who . . .”
Sharon Olds , Interview by Marianne Macdonald, The Guardian, Saturday 26 July 2008 (From here)