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When the wise and whimsical Sharon Olds started writing poetry over 40 years ago, she explored the subjects that interested her most — like diaphragms. “The politeness and the prudity of the world I grew up in meant that there were things that were important to me and interesting to me, [but] I had never read a poem about,” she once said. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for her collection Stag’s Leap about walking through the end of a long marriage. Her most recent book, Odes, pays homage to the human body and experience.
Sharon Olds is the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing at New York University. She is the author of Satan Says, The Dead and the Living, Odes, and Stag’s Leap — for which she also won the T.S. Eliot Prize. She helped found NYU’s outreach program for residents of Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island and for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
This interview is edited and produced with music and other features in the On Being episode “Sharon Olds — Odes to the *****.” Find more at onbeing.org.