Here’s a sampling of letters in response to Sharon Olds’s letter declining First Lady Laura Bush’s invitation to attend a National Book Festival dinner at the White House.

New York, NY

Three rousing cheers for Sharon Olds. She showed courage and wisdom in turning down Laura Bush’s invitation. Every person who breaks bread at the White House tacitly condones the slaughter in Iraq which her husband initiated when he arrogantly and unilaterally declared this horrific war. Congratulations to Olds for having the intelligence to understand this.


Broken Arrow, OK

Back in 2003, Laura Bush was convening a symposium on poetry at the White House (“Poetry and the American Voice”). It was posponed (I don’t know if it actually ended up being canceled or not) because a “protest” was being formulated by the poets invited to attend. The occasion prompted one poet, Sam Hamill, to put out a call to all poets to summit a poem about Iraq. He got 11,000 poets to respond with over 13,000 poems! The authors’ names were given to Congresswomen Marcy Kapur (Ohio) as a protest against the war in Iraq.

Sam Hamill published 260 of these poems in a book titled Poets Against the War.

Maybe Sharon Olds can do the same again!


Mill Valley, CA

Please let Sharon Olds know she is one of my new heroes–simply a person of conviction who is not afraid to speak up (and quite eloquently, too!).


Elkton, VA

The open letter to Laura Bush by poet Sharon Olds was excellent. It was fantastic for you to publish it in these days of media cowardice.

There are millions of us who have no voice and we depend on those who do to speak for us. None have spoken better than Sharon.

Thank you for publishing her awesome letter.


Mystic, CT

Tell Sharon Olds that she eloquently speaks for me and makes my heart beat stronger yet, and at 71 years still necessarily working, a ferryboat deckhand, I must purchase at least one of her books, proudly, and that in this fog of shame I am still proud of this country the has begot a Melville, Dickinson and Saron Olds at least.


New York, NY

That Bush could stomach Olds’s self-infatuated poetry is a gesture in generosity that far outweighs Olds’s politically kindled rebuke.


Lexington, KY

What gives me hope in these bleak days is the resonance of such powerful voices as Sharon Olds’s. I would despair, were it not for poets like her.