Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Time of Passion

Day 243 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project, and I have been reading The Unswept Room, by Sharon Olds, because I had the opportunity and because I like her as a poet.  I've learned a lot from her.  I stand amazed at how she can write about sex, love, family dysfunction, spiritual matters.

I had heard that her marriage broke up, but I still don't know the circumstances.  There are poems in this book that just break my heart.  She is as astonished as I am.  Here are 2 lines from "A Time of Passion":

It never crossed my mind that he no longer 
loved me, that we had left the realm of love.

She's just stating it.  It is so simple and so stunning all at once.  It comes at the end of a sex poem, one of those she does so well, that, on its second read, contains all the ambivalence, threat, and evidence.  All the stuff she doesn't see while it's going on but does see as a poet, later.

I find this frightening.  It's the way the still-married couple is frightened in the play Dinner With Friends, by Donald Margulies.  It's also a movie with Andie MacDowell, Toni Collette (a favorite of mine), Dennis Quaid, and Greg Kinnear.  It might be time for me to watch that again.  I was in the play once.

In the cemetery walk, I am a woman who had an unhappy marriage.  Maybe I am too sensitive to all that right now.  Wooee.

OK, I cheered myself up.  By finding that picture of me upside down.


SarahJane said...

wonderful picture! cheered me up(side down) too.
Sharon Olds is so powerful, and often hard to take.

ron hardy said...

I thought I recognized those wrists. This photo made me realize I need an i-book. This ain't no postcard I can spin around. Culinary delight. I am a Sharon Olds fan too. She makes me uncomfortable in a way that is alright. I think she comes so close to what I am typically holding back.

DJ Vorreyer said...

I agree with Sarah - Olds is such a powerful poet in a traffic-accident sort of way. You don't want to look, but you can't help yourself. I listened to a speech of hers once, and she was adamant that people not confuse the speaker with the poet - so I always wonder how much is autobiographical and how much is poem.

Kathleen said...

I've heard that about Olds, too, and I think she is asking us to look at the poem as a poem, not primarily as a record of her life. If it were that, she would write a memoir. She has chosen poetry, so, to my mind, she is also expressing something inexpressible about the parts of her life that get into the poem.

I know I changed some aspects of real life experience on its surface--facts/time--to get at real life in its essence in a poem about my dad. I consulted with him and with my mom as I revised. We are all happy with the results. It is in the current Spoon River Poetry Review, called "The Dog Cancer." It really happened that way...but not exactly that way. Sort of like what Native Americans say telling their stories. Probably what every culture says.