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Sharon Olds image

Award-winning Poet


Sharon Olds is the author of thirteen volumes of poetry. Her poetry, says Michael Ondaatje, is “pure fire in the hands,” and David Leavitt in the Voice Literary Supplement describes her work as “remarkable for its candor, its eroticism, and its power to move.” With sensuality, humor, sprung rhythm, and remarkable imagery, she expresses truths about domestic and political violence, sexuality, family relationships, love, and the body. Often compared to “confessional” poets, she has been much praised for the courage, emotional power, and extraordinary physicality of her work. A reviewer for The New York Times hailed her poetry for its vision: “Like Whitman, Ms. Olds sings the body in celebration of a power stronger than political oppression.”

Born in San Francisco, Sharon Olds studied at Stanford University and Columbia University. Her numerous honors include a National Endowment for the Arts grant; a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship; the San Francisco Poetry Center Award for her first collection, Satan Says (1980); and the Lamont Poetry Selection and the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Dead and the Living (1983). Her other books of poetry are Strike Sparks: Selected Poems 1980-2002 (2004), Blood, Tin, Straw (1999), The Gold Cell (1997), The Wellspring (1995), One Secret Thing (2008), The Unswept Room (2002), The Father (1992), Odes (2016), and Arias (2019) which was shortlisted for the 2019 TS Eliot Prize. In 2018 her collection, Stag's Leap, was made into a theatrical piece by Nancy Borgenicht. Olds' poetry has appeared in the New Yorker, Paris Review, Poetry, Atlantic Monthly, and New York Times. Her new book, a collection titled Balladz (Knopf, October 4, 2022), was a finalist for the National Book Awards 2022 for Poetry, and is a finalist for the 2023 TS Eliot Prize.

Named New York State Poet Laureate (1998 – 2000), Olds teaches graduate poetry workshops at New York University and the writing workshop she helped found at a state hospital for the severely disabled. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Science and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her poetry collection, One Secret Thing, was a finalist for the T. S. Eliot Prize & the Forward Prize, and her collection, Stag's Leap, was named one of Oprah's Favorite Reads of 2012. Stag’s Leap also won both the T.S. Eliot Prize and the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She has received many other honors including the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry, the Wallace Stevens Award, the Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for outstanding lifetime achievement. In 2023 the King of Spain, Felipe VI, presented her with the inaugural Joan Margarit International Poetry.

Sharon Olds lives in New York City.