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Olds, Sharon

  • By: Ruth Panofsky
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Described by critic Brenda Wineapple as a latter-day confessional poet, Sharon Olds writes lyric verse that draws boldly on her own life experiences as a mother. The subject of motherhood is at the core of much of her poetry, and she writes with honesty of “that background figure, that/source figure the mother. We are not,/strictly speaking, mortal” (The Unswept Room). Olds writes of her own mother and herself as the mother of two children, a daughter and a son. In poems that are graphic, frank, and haunting, she traces a narrative of her mother's life and her own maternal development, mining the terrain of motherhood to excavate its layers of pain and pleasure.

Olds was born into a Calvinist family in San Francisco and raised in ...

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