Finding Sharon Olds’s The Matter of This World

Anthony Wilson

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The Collection

The Matter of This World: New and Selected Poems (Slow Dancer, 1987)

I found The Matter of This World in a second hand bookshop next to Berwick-upon-Tweed station. I was there to meet a relation of my wife off the train from London. It was high summer, somewhere at the end of the Nineties. I had driven one-and-a-half hours to get there. Arriving early, the bookshop was something of a gift.

I had heard of, and read, some of Sharon Olds’s work, but nothing really prepared me for the shock of finding this book at this moment in my life. Just taking it down from the shelf reminds me of that very particular time, of looking after and administering to the needs of my two young children. Parallel to this era, but not separated from it, was another kind of enterprise altogether, that of reading and writing as…

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