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The thing about poets (and writers) is that, usually you read their stuff and love it, and then you meet them, and it's like, "Ugh: I liked you better when I only knew your writing." That's not true for Sharon Olds. Sharon Olds is so kick-ass. And, I imagine, that was also true for Galway Kinnell. I had the honor of meeting Sharon Olds at a university where I was teaching several years ago. I facilitated a Q&A after she read, in front of a lot of people. I was nervous. I had read and taught Sharon Olds for years, and loved her. But then, when I was on stage with her in front of so many, it was as if we were alone. I actually said to her (still in front of the people), "Oh man: we're the same person, just different ages." She's written a poem for the New Yorker: an ode to her friend Galway Kinnell, who died last fall in Sheffield, VT. This is a beautiful poem. It is a perfect circle, which may be the last perfect thing left. 

 

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Speaking of Pulitzer Prizes...Gregory Pardlo read at Book Culture last night, with several other authors from Four Way Books. Pardlo is instantly likable and honest. He read from his prize winning collection, Digest. Of his poem, "For Which It Stands," he told the audience that when he and his wife decided to have a baby, they had to admit to themselves that they didn't know their own roots very well: that they needed to take some trips to where they had come from, so that they could adequately teach it. Pardlo is funny, too: he doesn't take himself too seriously; or, he encourages us all to just be a little more real with ourselves. These poems are full of growing up: what it means to learn a few things the hard way. They're full of pop-culture and familiar places: superheroes, and literary heroes, and ordinary men.