Here’s a quote from Olds in an interview with The Guardian by Marianne Macdonald, entitled, Old’s worlds.
“Poems like mine – I don’t call them confessional, with that tone of admitting to wrong- doing. My poems have done more accusing than admitting. I call work like mine ‘apparently personal’. Or in my case apparently very personal.”
After reading one of Old’s poems, how many of us would have the nerve to ask her how it felt to have experienced the events she re-creates as poetry? If a writer makes a poem or a story, shouldn’t the art speak for itself? I doubt Olds wants to imply that she is the only person who has suffered.
A poet listens to the world and reflects the world back on itself. Particular incidents are shaped to capture the essence of a real emotion, but aren’t necessarily a graphic reproduction of reality. Otherwise, who would need poetry? We could read tabloids about celebrities, and that would be enough.