Review by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri
If Plath and Sexton were the roots and trunk of Confessionalism, then Olds would be the branches and the fingertips of those branches always reaching for a better understanding of self and others, including lovers, friends, teachers, children, father and mother, in an unyielding and unforgiving universe. Olds, unlike Plath and Sexton, loves her husband in an intimate and refreshingly poetic way. In her poem, “The Wedding Vow,” Olds writes of love with a spirit of equality.
Though not very musical, she unshamefully tells it all, as if her readers were her best friends. There is no distance she will detour or barriers she’ll hide behind. Sometimes it’s TMI (Too Much Information) by the all powerful “I,” who never comes up short. She will not shy away from expletives and takes full liberty at self-expression (like it or not). Courageous and comfortable she writes freely as one who would have sex with a stranger at Woodstock (or would she?). One of her poems is not truthful. In the poem, “The Window” Sharon’s daughter is upset with her for writing that she’s Jewish, when in fact, she is not. All in all, poem after poem will keep you turning the pages, as if you were allowed to read someone’s diary, namely Sharon Olds’s diary.
You can find Strike Sparks – Selected Poems, 1980-2002 by Sharon Olds at Amazon at this link: Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002