Poetry isn’t something that everyone gets to experience on a daily basis, especially well-written poetry. For those who are looking for a good poetry anthology, Sharon Olds’ book The Gold Cell is an excellent example of modern, relatable poetry.

Poetry doesn’t always have to be long prose with intricate language that nobody understands. Poets are not writing Shakespearean sonnets anymore and Olds’ style in particular is blunt and charismatic.

Olds’ poem “The Girl” brings to light the horror of rape, especially childhood rape in a way that is shocking and grabs the reader’s attention instantly. While some may say the descriptive detail is too vivid and crude. I would argue that horrific events cannot be toned down to make the general public feel comfortable. In this poem especially, Olds makes her point through excellent writing.

Aside from political statements, this anthology contains poems of vivid scenes. When reading each poem, you are taken away from your daily life for a few minutes. Not only does Olds use visual description in her writing, she embraces all of the senses by including details of scent and touch.

One of my favorite poems from this book is “I Go Back To May 1937.” This poem is captivating because it is a flashback to a college relationship, written from the perspective of their future child. The dialogue is the narrator talking to their parents, begging them to quit their tumultuous relationship before it even starts. It’s absolutely fascinating, because it’s a perspective that is rarely, if ever, used in creative writing.

The Gold Cell is a refreshing mix of serious, political poems, and relaxing, scenic tours of Olds’ imagination. If you are looking for writing that will challenge you and make you think, this anthology will satisfy you. If you’re looking for something to help you escape the stress of homework, you’ll find plenty of opportunities in these pages.

The Gold Cell is available in Ylvisaker.

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Karen Besonen

Karen Besonen is a senior Multimedia Journalism major, originally from Apple Valley, Minnesota. She is an enthusiast of music, along with keeping a personal blog and following the action on Capital Hill. She has a passion for traveling and philanthropic work, and with her degree, she hopes to work for a Christian nonprofit that fights the trafficking and exploitation of children.

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