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March 25, 2008

Poet Sharon Olds and High School Prize Winners to Read at Smith

Editor’s note: For a high-res digital image of Sharon Olds, contact Marti Hobbes at (413) 585-2190.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Smith College will present a reading by poet Sharon Olds at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, in Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Olds served as the judge of the second annual Smith College Poetry Prize for High School Girls in Massachusetts. She chose Maia ten Brink of Falmouth as the winner, and three finalists: Sarah Fitzgibbons of South Deerfield, Rebekah-Shireen Lefebvre of Hadley and Sadie McCarney of Natick. The four students will be awarded their prizes at the evening reading, and each will read her winning poem. 

The author of eight books of poetry, Olds is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Lamont Poetry Selection, a National Book Critics Circle Award and an Academy of American Poets Fellowship. Her work has been reprinted in more than 100 anthologies and appears regularly in The New Yorker and other major journals. Olds served as the New York State Poet Laureate from 1998 to 2000. Currently, she is Erich Maria Remarque Professor in the Creative Writing Program at New York University and also oversees the poetry workshop she founded in 1984 at New York’s Goldwater Hospital for the severely disabled.    

Visceral and transformative, Olds’ poems barrel down into that place in us that we “want never to know.” Novelist Michael Ondaatje has called her work “pure fire in the hands—risky, on the verge of falling and, in the end, leaping up.”  Writing on such subjects as family, alcoholism, death, sex, mothering and the horrors of violence and war, Olds writes stark, potent and cathartic poetry—brutally honest and beautiful in its stripped-down artistry.  Olds’ dazzling and harrowing voice surprises, haunts and delights. Olds’ audience is wide and fiercely loyal. As The Poetry Foundation attests, “Olds is undeniably one of the most popular and accessible living American poets and one of the few that has won a following among general readers.”  

To commemorate Olds’ visit to Smith and as part of the Poetry Center’s growing broadside series, Barry Moser, Printer to the College, has made a fine letterpress broadside of her poem “April, New Hampshire” from “The Unswept Room” (Alfred A. Knopf, BOA Editions, 2002), complete with an original illustration. The broadside’s public unveiling will take place on April 8 when it will be available for sale at a one-time reduced price.

Olds’ reading will be followed by a book sale and signing. For further information, call Cindy Furtek in the Poetry Center office at (413) 585-4891 or Ellen Doré Watson, director, at (413) 585-3368.

For disability access information or to request accommodations, call (413) 585-2407. To request a sign language interpreter specifically, call (413) 585-2071 (voice or TTY) or e-mail All requests must be made at least 10 days prior to the event.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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