Sunday, August 25, 2013

Review: Stag's Leap: Poems by Sharon Olds

Olds won the Pulitzer for poetry (2013) with Stag's Leap. Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, recommended this book of verse when I heard her speak in April. I knew nothing else about it when I reserved a copy at my library so I didn't know what to expect.

I kinda like that... not knowing what to expect but just diving into a book blindly.

Quickly, I found the poems were telling a story, a rather melancholy one, about a women who was left by her husband. The poems were so raw and real that I assumed, correctly, that Olds is sharing about her own experience. The poems are from the perspective of the lover who has been left for another after 30 years of marriage. 

I found the perspective intriguing. Many people experience the same life events: death, marriage, children, relocation, reunions, etc. But we experience them in vastly different ways. As a divorcée, my experience was different than Olds', but I identified with many of the phases, with their accompanying emotions, that the book explores. Fear, confusion, disgust, self-loathing, longing, nostalgia, anxiety: some of the emotions I experienced during what felt like the turn of a large wheel that was slowly, sometimes grindingly, taking me to a new frontier of my life.

Perhaps it was the right book at the right time of my life but I found Olds' poems to be exceptional. I was often frustrated with her as a "character" but overall I enjoyed the book as a story and as poetry.

Publisher: Knopf, 2012     Pages: 112
Rating: 4 Stars     Source: Public Library