How I Write: Sharon Olds
Published: March 23, 2001
|Acclaimed for her use of piercing language and frank imagery, poet Sharon Olds writes of family and sexual relationships, the body and other subjects with the ability to strike close to the bone and expose raw nerves. State poet of New York from 1998 to 2000, Olds is chair of New York University's Creative Writing Program and founder of the Writing Program at Goldwater Hospital for the physically disabled in New York.|
Credits: Blood, Tin, Straw (1999); The Wellspring (1996); The Father (1992); The Gold Cell (1987); The Dead and the Living (Lamont Poetry Selection; National Book Critics Circle Award, 1983); Satan Says (San Francisco Poetry Center Award, 1980).
Why: Because I fill up with words and language dance-rhythms; because I don't like it that "all is lost" on this mortal earth.
When: Whenever a poem "comes to me"--when I notice that one has begun to write itself, or when the first line or subject arrive in my consciousness.
Where: Often, sitting up in bed (to keep my feet warm); often, sitting on a low hassock at a window overlooking a city park and a river, watching redtail hawks hunt; often, on buses, trains, airplanes.
How: As a kind of very pleasurable drawing: feeling the Bic pen pour wigglingly over the ShopRite notebook page (wide-ruled) and describing. Then days (weeks, months, years) later, I type it up on my portable manual typewriter--which is around my age, and which I carry around on my back when I travel. Then I rewrite.
Writer's block: My first book was published when I was 37; by then I think I'd used up most of my silence.
Advice to new writers: Don't forget to take your vitamins!