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Slideshow: Sharon Olds

Photos by Patrick Dodson / University at Albany

Program change:

Due to a family emergency, Ocean Vuong is unable to attend today's events with Sharon Olds.

Ms. Olds is still scheduled for the events at 4:15 and 7:30 p.m. 

Sharon Olds and Ocean Vuong

Poetry across the generations

Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019
4:15 p.m. Craft talk - Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center West Addition
7:30 p.m. Conversation/Q&A - Campus Center West Auditorium
See map

Major poet Sharon Olds joins her former student Ocean Vuong, a rising star of American poetry for an evening of poetry and discussion.

Sharon Olds, New York State Poet (1998-2000), is renowned for poetry that examines marriage, motherhood, intimacy, and the human condition.





She received both the Pulitzer Prize and England’s T. S. Eliot Prize for her 2012 collection, Stag’s Leap, a poignant account of being left by her husband for another woman after 30 years of marriage.

Olds is the author of 13 books of poetry and the winner of many other awards and honors, including the inaugural San Francisco Poetry Center Award for her first book, Satan Says (1980), and the National Book Critics Circle Award for her second, The Dead and the Living, which was also the Lamont Poetry Selection for 1983.  

The Father was short-listed for the T. S. Eliot Prize in England, and The Unswept Room was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.  

A professor at NYU, she cofounded the NYU Goldwater Hospital Writing Workshop for the severely physical challenged, and the NYU Veterans Writing Workshop for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.


Her new collection, Arias (2019), explores political conscience, race and class in poems delivered with operatic passion, anguish and solo force. 

Sharon Olds (credit Hillery Stone)

“Here’s the thing – writers are not confident people...” Sharon Olds said after winning the TS Eliot Prize in 2013. “We work and we hope and we doubt ourselves. And for women of my age, who grew up in very patriarchal times – even more so than it is now – I think the pleasure is in just being able to be writers as the world changes around us. You don’t wake up in the morning feeling ‘acclaimed’. We try to acclaim ourselves a little bit every day, but not too much. Just some…” (Photo by Hillery Stone)

“If I had my way, I’d recommend the earnest pursuit of poetry for every writer,” Vuong said in an interview published in The Atlantic. “You have much more experience negotiating the fossilization of an idea. There’s more trial and error in a moment.” (Photo by Peter Bienkowsk)

Born in Saigon, Ocean Vuong spent a year in a refugee camp as a baby and migrated to America when he was two years old.


A leading poet of his generation, he writes poetry that explores the immigrant experience, queer life, and lingering impact of the Vietnam War. His debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, has been named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, and more.

The Washington Post said it “explode[s] the very structure of traditional narrative, and the pages break apart into the lines of an evocative prose poem — not so much briefly gorgeous as permanently stunning.” His debut poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, was a New York Times “Top Ten Book of 2016,” and the second-ever debut collection to win the T. S. Eliot Prize.

Ocean Vuong (photo credit Peter Bienkowski)

Cosponsored by the Honors College at UAlbany, a vibrant community providing opportunities for students to push the limits of knowledge in the classroom and beyond.

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