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The Wellspring

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  877 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Olds submerges readers in the wellspring of life as she evokes the wonder and the pain of sexual awakening, of giving birth, of watching one's children become adults, and of love in middle age. Always striking to the very heart of woman's experience and risking subjects seldom explored in poetry. Olds has found a large audience.
Paperback, 88 pages
Published January 30th 1996 by Knopf Publishing Group
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(showing 1-30)
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Danielle Barnhart
Sep 03, 2011 Danielle Barnhart rated it really liked it
Sharon Olds’ book, The Wellspring is a life-story of poems. Separated into four parts, the poems are narrative snapshots of confessional scenes and interactions. Each poem is written with candor and grace. The sections move from before the speaker’s birth to her mischievous childhood, to an unabashed sexual awakening into childbirth, the adoration of her children, and culminate with the wholly matured love between her and her husband.

Her craft and plainness of language lend to her authenticity.
Oct 24, 2008 Kristin rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
The poems that touched me the most were the ones in which Olds imagines what life must have been like for her parents before she was born (e.g. "Visiting My Mother's College") as well as well as all of the poems about her own children in Part 3 of book. For me, these poems from her own perspective as a mother, especially "The Bonding" about the bond between her son and daughter and "High School Senior" about her love for her daughter, made me aware of just how much our parents must love us. Ther ...more
Feb 05, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Each time I read this book, different poems stand out as my favorites. My favorite this time around is a poem about her daughter, as she looks through college applications, that goes something like "Just as I was a daughter inside my mother's life, I am a mother inside my daughter... I have yet to be born."
Aug 02, 2015 Emily added it
Shelves: poetry
My favorite thing about Olds' poetry is her obsession with the physical body, and that's here in full force (although with maybe one or two too many poems about dicks). Been working my way slowly though this one all summer, and have mostly really enjoyed it. Best poem: His Father's Cadaver.
May 13, 2011 Jenna rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lacey
Shelves: poetry
Sharon Olds is amazing. That is all.
Carol Oberg
Mar 18, 2017 Carol Oberg rated it it was amazing
Written in 1995, it remains timely. Often startled, always held in her sure, poetic hand.
Mar 02, 2017 James rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
I was not engaged with this volume. Almost all poems here are about her children: birthing them, watching them grow, tending to them. I have never had children and so much that others may find endearing left me rather bored. I am a fan of Sharon Olds, but not of this particular work. That said, much of this work seems too similar to her other children/family poems. The sex is always interesting. The father imagery is somewhat different from "The Father". But the childhood stuff seems stale and t ...more
Feb 16, 2017 Laura rated it really liked it
Old's poems retroactively locate the nucleus of being and consciousness from infancy, through childhood, youth, sexual awakening, motherhood, middle and late middle age. Strange, fascinating, confessional!
BeccaAudra Smith
Feb 05, 2013 BeccaAudra Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really love the possessive element of love Sharon Olds portrays, it permeates all aspects so that she is witness to her parent's love making, she prays for her son's body during his illness, 'I think of your penis, its/ candour and virtue' (Poem to Our Son after a High Fever). I found all of her poems about her son especially moving. She brings you in to this immediate sensual world with a single line of imagery that makes me feel as if I have just been granted a close up of something profound ...more
I was sure I wrote a review for this before I returned it to the library. I like having a book nearby to refer to when I write my review. This is especially true for poetry, since I like to list the poems that were most important to me. I guess I will have to get the book out again.

I have encountered Olds' life in reverse. Earlier, I read her book, Stag's Leap about the end of her marriage. This collection is about the beginnings of her life, including her marriage. Her marriage in the later poe
Jan 22, 2017 Haley rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I LOVE all of Sharon Olds' poems. This was my first full collection I've read of hers and I loved it. It's split into four parts and unfortunately the biggest section, part 3, about her raising her children was a bit lost on me. It was written as eloquent as all of her other poems but I was more interested in the bits on love and adolescence than I was on motherhood (I wonder why that was hehe). So overall I loved the first two sections better than the latter but it was beautiful and sweeping an ...more
T Fool
Aug 28, 2013 T Fool rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
SO is impressive in her intelligence and her articulation. This work, personal as many of her poems are, centers closely around family -- parents, husband, children -- and avoids sentimentality despite her clear tenderness by bringing us closely in, with an almost embarrassing sharpness of taboo (?) detail.

This is honest. Naturalistic in its embracing love. This woman has heart and eye as well as brain.
Feb 26, 2011 Yvonne rated it really liked it
Stellar poetry following the stages of a woman's (presumably Sharon Olds'!) life. I don't read poetry on a regular basis but really enjoy all of these as they touch on our common journey through childhood, young adulthood and motherhood. And I love the way she puts the words together, so lyrical and intimate. I keep meaning to return this book to the library but have not yet been able to bring myself to do it...
Lisa Feld
Mar 28, 2013 Lisa Feld rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nyc
I love Sharon Olds's gorgeous language and confessional style, and I'm always riveted by family dynamics. This collection traces Olds's life from her conception through adolescence, the arc of her children's lives, and into her middle age, and it contains two of my favorite poems of hers: "The Planned Child" and "My Son the Man."
Michael Mingo
Oct 31, 2013 Michael Mingo rated it really liked it
I'd prefer more (or any) formal variations, but Olds has a way of presenting quotidian experiences in heightened language. She is especially effective when in the persona of a parent watching her children grow up (e.g., "Solo").
Jul 22, 2014 Helen rated it it was amazing
I love the way Olds incorporates the human body into her poetry. She doesn't shy away from anatomical detail, even when discussing sex between more mature adults. A very honest look at motherhood as well as female sexuality.
Amy Kitchell-Leighty
Oct 21, 2008 Amy Kitchell-Leighty rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
a little dissapointing and that's hard for me to sya because I'm a HUGE Sharon-fan...huge! But compared to her other books this one just doesn't hold a candle...seems like she's trying, unsuccessfully, to capture what she had in previous books. Maybe next time Sharon!
Bobrhodes Rhodes
I'm re-reading this. Some very good stuff here.
Jun 24, 2011 Rose rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Pete Planisek
Jun 30, 2012 Pete Planisek rated it it was amazing
Again a voice I like to revisit.
Aug 11, 2014 Punkingate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Can I give more than five stars?
Sonya Sones
May 01, 2013 Sonya Sones rated it it was amazing
Jul 02, 2007 katie marked it as to-read
rec: sarahd
[have copy]
Apr 27, 2011 Mary rated it liked it
Pretty poems mostly about her husband's scrotum.
Aug 14, 2007 Puja rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
not my favorite sharon olds
Apr 20, 2007 powei rated it really liked it
i like olds in general.
Jun 14, 2013 Gordon rated it liked it
Olds is consistent to a fault, but either she or I is running out of steam for sex, family, and flesh.
Jill Dater
Dec 23, 2014 Jill Dater rated it really liked it
It's been awhile since I've read poetry and Olds lays it out in all it's raw, beautiful, messy glory. Poems mostly about motherhood, sex, and domestic life.
Jan 09, 2011 Casey rated it really liked it
The first book of poetry I ever bought for myself.
Mar 19, 2008 Valerie rated it really liked it
I can't stand reading poetry, but I like Sharon Olds.
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Born in San Francisco on November 19, 1942, Sharon Olds earned a B.A. at Stanford University and a Ph.D. at Columbia University.

Her first collection of poems, Satan Says (1980), received the inaugural San Francisco Poetry Center Award. Olds's following collection, The Dead & the Living (1983), received the Lamont Poetry Selection in 1983 and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Her other col
More about Sharon Olds...

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