Literature Annotations

Olds, Sharon
Waste Sonata

Genre Poem
KeywordsAlcoholism, Children, Empathy, Family Relationships, Father-Daughter Relationship, Human Worth, Illness and the Family, Love, Marital Discord, Ordinary Life, Suffering, Time, Trauma

A powerful lament over a father’s wasted life, and the "purgatory" of living in a household dominated by alcoholism and marital discord. Strong and graphic language weaves a complex web of conflicting emotions: hatred and self-hatred, scorn and pity, condemnation and forgiveness.

CommentaryThis is from the collection of poems written by Olds about a father’s terminal illness and death, and retrospectively, about a life together (see also in this database The Waiting, The Pulling, The Dead Body, Beyond Harm).
SourceThe Father
Place PublishedNew York
Annotated by Aull, Felice
Date of Entry 02/09/94