Thursday, May 11, 2006

Poetry Thursday

That's right, kids, it's Poetry Thursday once again and you know what that means. More crappy poetry, courtesy of yours truly. Today you've been issued a reprieve because my poem is still a work in progress. For now, I give you this poem by Sharon Olds.

I first discovered Sharon Olds in my junior year of high school. I'd bought an old English Lit textbook at a secondhand shop (Yes, I was a total geek who did stuff like that. In fact, I still do it.). I found her halfway through the book, sandwiched between Seamus Heaney and Shakespeare. I'd never heard of her but the title got my attention. Like most 16-year-olds, anything with the word "sex" in it was bound to do it.

All I knew of poetry up to that point was what they make you read in English class: Frost, Spencer, Milton, Whitman. As far as the female poets went, all I'd ever read was Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Fine poets all but let's just say I had trouble appreciating the finer points of their work. (Translation: they bored me. To tears.)

I read the poem and when I was done I read it again. I kept reading it until I had memorized it. I cut it out of the book and carried it around with me. She had cast a spell over me with those words, half of which I didn't even understand. It never occurred to me that poetry could be about anything other than romantic love or wild oaks growing. Here was this person, talking about sex, sex, for god's sake and a woman, no less. It amazed me that she could be so fearless.

I've since read all of her works and she continues to amaze me. Every poem is still a surprise. I still have that page I cut out of the English book. It's pinned to the bulletin board above my desk. It reminds me of why I fell in love with poetry in the first place but mostly, it reminds me that in poetry, there's no room for fear. There are only the words and the willingness to speak.


Blogger January said...

"Sex Without Love" is one of my favorite poems. I studied with Sharon at NYU and she's an amazing person and poet. Thanks for sharing, and good luck with the job thing.

5/11/2006 8:57 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

I am disgustingly jealous. That is so cool.

5/11/2006 9:05 PM  
Blogger Voix said...

WOW. That poem rocks my socks off. Seriously. And I'm jealous of January, too.

5/11/2006 9:36 PM  
Blogger J Malcolm said...

Sex without love is a great poem for thursday. I like olds better than plath. Another favorite of mine is "the truth the dead know"
By Anne Sexton.
I have to say though that my favorite poet currently is Jodie Graham. Read her Eurydice poem that she wrote, when she was not much older than me.
(Burning with Jealousy)

5/12/2006 10:52 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

I used to be a Plath junkie and then I discovered Anne Sexton, who I just love. I've never heard of Jodie Graham but I'll be sure to check her out.

5/12/2006 2:09 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

I love that you still have that poem. Olds is fearless, isn't she? I wrote a number of poems about sex in the late 1990s, all inspired by her.

5/13/2006 1:06 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

I just love her. I know that she's been criticized for being too sexual, too self-centered, too something, but god I just love what this woman can do with words.

5/13/2006 10:54 AM  

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