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Stag's Leap: Poems by Sharon Olds
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Stag's Leap: Poems (2012)

by Sharon Olds

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I have enjoyed her other books better, and although the writing is good here and the imagery is often very well done, I just found her obsession with her failed marriage too much. I felt myself saying in my head, "get over it already." After over 30 years of marriage this is understandable, but surely in a whole poetry collection another topic could have intruded a bit more. ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
Read this on a friend's recommendation and loved it. Lyrical, rich, and devastating lyric sequence about divorce and heartbreak. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
I really admire Sharon Olds as a poet. I met her once at a conference, and she spoke for over an hour. One pearl I took away from that meeting was in response to a question an audience member posed: “Why are some of your lines long and other short in the same poem?” She smiled sweetly, and said, “A line of poetry is as long as it needs to be.” When writing my own poetry, I was a bit obsessive about the length of my lines. This casually dropped pearl freed me to worry much less about length and more about the quality of the line.

I have to say, this collection, Stag's Leap, was not my favorite of hers. While I still admired the lines and the overall quality of her writing, the subject matter – a divorce and the struggles to get on with her life – felt rather depressing and halfway through, it simply became too much. Here is a sample titled, “The Last Hour”: “Suddenly, the last hour / before he took me to the airport, he stood up, / bumping the table, and took a step / toward me, and like a figure in an early / science fiction movie he leaned / forward and down, and opened an arm, / knocking my breast, and he tried to take some / hold of me, I stood and we stumbled, / and then we stood, around our core, his / hoarse cry of awe at the center, / at the end of our life. Quickly, then, / the worst was over, I could comfort him, / holding his heart in place from the back / and smoothing it from the front, his own / life continuing, and what he had / bound him, around his heart – and bound him / to me – now lying on and around us, / sea-water, rust, light, shards, / the little eternal curls of eros / beaten out straight” (13).

I stopped midway through the copying of this poem, and reflected on my own divorce many years ago, and I felt some faint echo of those terrible days. I think I will hold off on rating Sharon Olds' Stag's Leap until I can read it again, with a bit more distance between now and then.

Chiron, 5/20/16 (Written 6/26/16)
  rmckeown | Jun 26, 2016 |
A wonderfully intimate collection of poems centering around the abandonment of the author after decades of marriage by her now ex husband. It starts with the mental distancing at home and ultimately leads to divorce and all the questions about what went wrong. These are heart felt and written straight from the heart. She is far more fair to her ex spouse than I would have been in a similar situation. Every single poem is a gem and I certainly see why the collection won the Pulitzer Prize ( )
  muddyboy | Nov 28, 2013 |
As a man, married to the same woman for almost 40 years, I am amazed that I could be so moved by one woman's poetry about her divorce. These are powerful, powerful poems. ( )
  nmele | Jul 8, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307959902, Hardcover)

In this wise and intimate new book, Sharon Olds tells the story of a divorce, embracing strands of love, sex, sorrow, memory, and new freedom.

As she carries us through the seasons when her marriage was ending, Olds opens her heart to the reader, sharing the feeling of invisibility that comes when we are no longer standing in love’s sight; the surprising physical bond that still exists between a couple during parting; the loss of everything from her husband’s smile to the set of his hip; the radical change in her sense of place in the world. Olds is naked before us, curious and brave and even generous toward the man who was her mate for thirty years and who now loves another woman. As she writes in the remarkable “Stag’s Leap,” “When anyone escapes, my heart / leaps up.  Even when it’s I who am escaped from, / I am half on the side of the leaver.” Olds’s propulsive poetic line and the magic of her imagery are as lively as ever, and there is a new range to the music—sometimes headlong, sometimes contemplative and deep. Her unsparing approach to both pain and love makes this one of the finest, most powerful books of poetry she has yet given us.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:36 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In this wise and intimate telling--which carries us through the seasons when her marriage was ending--Sharon Olds opens her heart to the reader, sharing the feeling of invisibility that comes when we are no longer standing in love's sight; the surprising physical bond that still exists between a couple during parting; the loss of everything from her husband's smile to the set of his hip. Olds is naked before us, curious and brave and even generous toward the man who was her mate for thirty years and who now loves another woman. -- Cover, p. [4]… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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