I have been a fan of Sharon Olds‘ poetry ever since she spoke out about incest in her collection, The Dead and the Living (1983). Her work is incredibly incisive, beautifully crafted, and utterly unblinking, even as she examines subjects we are discouraged from mentioning, much less capturing in poetry. The personal nature of Olds‘ poetry, her focus on her children, her marriage, and her own sexuality, has made her controversial throughout her career. Yet she has persevered, and later in her career won numerous awards, including a Pulitzer for Stag’s Leap, her 2012 volume about the end of her long marriage. In her 2016 book “Odes,” the poet explores sexuality from her vantage point as a woman in her sixties. Poems like “Blow Job Ode,” and “Ode to the Clitoris,” continue her saga of making the personal poetic.
These poems make it clear that being a certain age is no reason to stop examining (and enjoying) sexuality.