Sharon Olds

(November 19, 1942 / San Francisco)

Quotations

  • ''... to a poet, the human community is like the community of birds to a bird, singing to each other. Love is one of the reasons we are singing to one another, love of language itself, love of sound, love of singing itself, and love of the other birds.''
    Sharon Olds (b. 1942), U.S. poet. As quoted in Listen to Their Voices, ch. 18 (1993). On why writing poetry, though "always difficult," is easier than not writing it.
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  • ''The symmetrical piles of white bodies,
    the round white breast-shapes of the heaps,
    the smell of the smoke, the dogs the wires the
    rope the hunger. It had happened to others.
    There was a word for us. I was: a Jew.''
    Sharon Olds (b. 1942), U.S. Jewish poet. "That Year," lines 24-28 (1980). On seeing, in social studies class, photographs from Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp located in Poland, where more than one million Jews were killed during World War II.

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The Borders

To say that she came into me,
from another world, is not true.
Nothing comes into the universe
and nothing leaves it.
My mother—I mean my daughter did not
enter me. She began to exist
inside me—she appeared within me.
And my mother did not enter me.
When she lay down, to pray, on me,

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