Sharon Olds’ “September, 2001”

When I first went to read Sharon Old’s’ poem, “September, 2001,” I was expecting it to be a lot more “engaging” than it actually was. The title gave me the impression that it was going to be more about September 11th in general rather than her personal experiences. Looking back at some of the other poems we read by Olds, this makes sense because her poems do tend to be more personal as opposed to about general topics. There are instances that refer to the broader aspects of the event but the majority of the poem revolves around how she felt about it and what she did to cope. This got me thinking about the definition of engaging poetry and whether or not some of the poems in the book fit those definitions. After doing more research on this type of poetry I found that the definition is a lot broader than I first thought.

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1 Response to Sharon Olds’ “September, 2001”

  1. Kristen Woodside says:

    I definitely agree that whether or not a poem is “engaged” has a lot to do with the way a person defines engaged poetry. When I first read the Olds poem, I thought it was engaged, but I also think I was looking at it from a lens of knowing how Sharon Olds usually writes her poems. Since she is usually so confessional, I assumed that it was engaged because she was writing a little bit about something other than herself and because technically it did a lot of the things that engaged poems do (use appropriated language, incorporate diachronicity, etc.). However, I think after we talked in class, I really changed my mind. I don’t think her poem is engaged because at its core, it’s about her. Even the way she talks about the events of September 11 are only in relation to what they do for her life, which not only seems un-engaged, but really offensive.

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