Heartbreak inspires art; make no mistake. Not always quality but certainly quantity. Many words are thrown at the subject, but only a small group of people manage to place them as accurately as Sharon Olds does in Stag's Leap; her book of poetry that has just been awarded the TS Eliot prize.
Written fifteen years ago, Stag's Leap documents Olds' devastation as her marriage ended after 30 years. Out of the blue her husband left her for another woman and Olds' world fell apart. It's only now that we've been allowed an insight to her thoughts and feelings from all those years ago.
"At that time, I thought it would be too hard for my kids. No one ever signs up to have a Mom who is an autobiographical family poet."
Many have seen the publishing of the poems as revenge, only sweetened by the TS Eliot cherry on top. Some have even said that the poems are too soft on the husband but Olds disagrees:
"I'm pretty happy with the balance of the book in terms of fairness...some people feel that the book is much too easy on the figure of the husband, not enough anger and not enough judgement."
But Stag's Leap wasn't written for the purpose of getting back at her ex-husband.
Old's speaks of poetry as a cathartic process, a method of dealing with her pain and this is clear when you read her poems. There's no anger - an emotion she says she could never do - rather the poems are contemplative as you follow her along the road to acceptance, to coming to terms with what has happened.
It is, of course, an eloquent journey, much more so than drowning your sorrows with a bottle of Stag's Leap - the couple's favorite wine and one of the reasons for the book title - and slurring out an angry voicemail.
But even that's better than a Taylor Swift song.
Text by Leila De Vito for Crane.tv
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