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The provocative and moving follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling Stag’s Leap ‘Interspersed with acts of breathtaking linguistic daring.’ Charlotte Mendelson, Observer Book of the Year

‘Interspersed with acts of breathtaking linguistic daring.’
Charlotte Mendelson, Observer Book of the Year

Opening with a powerful and tender ‘Ode to the Hymen’, Sharon Olds uses this age-old poetic form to address many aspects of herself, in a collection that is centred around the female body and female pleasures, and touches along the way on parts of her own story which will be familiar from earlier works, each episode and memory now burnished by the wisdom and grace of looking back. In such poems as ‘Ode to My Sister’, ‘Ode of Broken Loyalty’, ‘Ode to My Whiteness’, ‘Blow Job Ode’, ‘Ode to the Last 38 Trees in New York City Visible from This Window’, Olds treats us to an intimate self-examination that, like all her work, is universal and by turns searing and charming in its honesty. From the early bodily joys and sorrows of her girlhood to the recent deaths of those dearest to her – the ‘Sheffield Mountain Ode’ for Galway Kinnell is one of the most stunning pieces here – Olds shapes her world in language that is startlingly fresh, profound in its conclusions, and life-giving for the reader.


Olds’s descriptive gift is like a fire hose of frankness…undeniably powerful.

Jeremy Noel-Tod, Sunday Times

Olds’s inspired new collection alerts us to taboos we barely think about ordinarily…These odes, because they illuminate what it is to live inside a body and survive its outrages, are useful – and beautiful too.

Kate Kellaway, Guardian

[An] inspired new collection… She writes…with a driven perkiness… Throughout, there is a bold sexiness that goes beyond sex, that borders on camp, fey or funny… Marvellous odes… Beautiful.

Kate Kellaway, Guardian Weekly

[It is] interspersed with acts of breathtaking linguistic daring.

Charlotte Mendelson, Observer, Book of the Year

Her new collection, Odes, is an exquisite follow up [to Stag’s Leap.]

Daily Telegraph

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    September 15, 2016

    Jonathan Cape

    128 pages

    RRP $37.00

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  • EBook


    September 8, 2016

    Vintage Digital

    128 pages

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