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In this emotional new collection from 'America's greatest living poet', Sharon Olds lays bare her divorce and the bones of lost love - her most powerful collection yet.

Stag's Leap, Sharon Olds' stunningly poignant new sequence of poems, tells the story of a divorce, embracing strands of love, sex, sorrow, memory, and new freedom. In this wise and intimate telling - which carries us through the seasons when her marriage was ending - Sharon Olds opens her heart to the reader, sharing the feeling of invisibility that comes when we are no longer standing in love's sight; the surprising physical passion that still exists between a couple during parting; the loss of everything from her husband's smile to the set of his hip.

Olds is naked before us, curious and brave and even generous toward the man who was her mate for thirty years and now loves another woman. As she writes in the remarkable title poem, 'When anyone escapes, my heart / leaps up. Even when it's I who am escaped from, / I am half on the side of the leaver'.

Olds' propulsive poetic line and the magic of her imagery are as lively as ever, and there is a new range to the music - sometimes headlong, sometimes contemplative and deep. Her unsparing approach to both pain and love makes this one of the finest, most powerful books of poetry Olds has yet given us.


Sharon Olds, the winner of the 2012 TS Eliot Prize for Stag’s Leap, is the first female American Poet to win the prize, and perhaps the most accessible poet of her generation.

Tom Payn, Telegraph

Olds, who has always had a gift for describing intimacy, has, in a sense, had these poems thrown at her by life and allowed them to take root: they are stunning – the best of a formidable career.

Kate Kellaway, Observer

[A] brilliant and fearless poet.

Joyce Carol Oates

A tremendous book of grace and gallantry which crowns the career of a world-class poet.

Carol Ann Duffy, Huffington Post

Taut and beautiful poems.

Edna O'Brien, Guardian

Brave, generous and very moving.

Mark Sanderson, Sunday Telegraph

[It] amazed me...great, heartfelt, monumental book.

Toby Litt, New Statesman

Each image of Sharon Olds' searing Stag's Leap brands itself on retina and heart - how will I ever forget the "Tiny Siren" found by accident in the washing machine?

Gerda Stevenson, Morning Star

The most powerful piece of writing I've encountered in decades... The raw emotion of break up transcends every known cliché thanks to her generosity of spirit and the awe-inspiring choreography of her language.

Laura George, Image Magazine

I read this poetry collection with my heart in my mouth.

Jamie Quatro, Guardian

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    October 15, 2012

    Jonathan Cape

    96 pages

    RRP $24.99

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    October 4, 2012

    Vintage Digital

    96 pages

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