Author: Sharon Olds
Publisher: Knopf (2016)
Opening with the powerful and tender “Ode to the Hymen,” Olds addresses and embodies, in this age-old poetic form, many aspects of love and gender and sexual politics in a collection that is centered on the body and its structures and pleasures. The poems extend parts of her narrative as a daughter, mother, wife, lover, friend, and poet of conscience that will be familiar from earlier collections, each episode and memory burnished by the wisdom and grace and humor of looking back. In such poems as “Ode to My Sister,” “Ode of Broken Loyalty,” “Ode to My Whiteness,” “Blow Job Ode,” and “Ode to the Last Thirty-Eight Trees in New York City Visible from This Window,” Olds treats us to an intimate examination that, like all her work, is universal, by turns searing and charming in its honesty. From the bodily joys and sorrows of childhood to the deaths of those dearest to us, Olds shapes the world in language that is startlingly fresh, profound in its conclusions, and life-giving for the reader.