The Poetry Society of America has awarded Professor Sharon Olds — previous director of the Creative Writing Program, and holder of the Erich Maria Remarque Professorship of Creative Writing at NYU Arts & Science — the 2022 Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry. She is preceded by winners including Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery, Lucille Clifton, N. Scott Momaday — as well as Robert Frost, the award's namesake.
First awarded in 1930, the Frost Medal is the Poetry Society's highest honor. In announcing Professor Olds as this year's recipient, the society's Board of Governors recognizes her as “one of the most beloved poets of her generation,” citing the candor and intimacy present in her work. “I'm interested in ordinary life,” Olds says, “and letting the experience get through you onto the notebook with pen, through the arm, out of the body, onto the page, without distortion.” The Board notes its pride in awarding “a poet of such courage and brilliance, who has impacted this generation and future generations of poets in so many diverse and as yet to be discovered ways.”
The Frost Medal is the latest in a series of literary achievements for Professor Olds — among which are the San Francisco Poetry Center Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, a Lila Wallace-Readers' Digest Grant, the Harriet Monroe Poetry Award, the T.S. Eliot Prize, and the Pulitzer Prize.
By Sharon Olds
In the morning, when I’m pouring the hot milk
into the coffee, I put the side of my
face near the convex pitcher to watch
the last, round drop from the spout,
and it feels like being cheek to cheek
with a baby. Sometimes the orb pops back up,
a ball of cream balanced on a whale’s
watery exhale. Then I gather my tools
of my craft, the cherry sounding-board tray
for my lap, the phone, the bird book for looking up
the purple martin. I repeat them as I seek them,
so as not to forget: tray, cell phone,
purple martin; tray, phone,
martin, Trayvon Martin, song was
invented for you, all art was made
for you, painting, writing, was yours,
our youngest, our most precious, to remind us
to shield you—all was yours, all that is
left on earth, with your body, was for you.