A Selected History of Her Heart by Carole Simmons Oles


A Selected History of Her Heart: Poems (University of New Mexico Press, Mary Burritt Christiansen Poetry Series, 2014)

“Through the lens of her singular and compelling life, Carole Simmons Oles guides us through our fractured, confused,  violent century. These powerhouse poems reach out generation to generation with generosity and compassion.  These poems invite us in, offer food and drink and shelter.” ~Peggy Shumaker, author of Gnawed Bones

“Richly detailed and emotionally complex, A Selected History of Her Heart spans several decades of a life. Its centerpiece is a vivid cinematic sequence recounting a young woman’s year in Morocco, a collision of bodies, cultures, opportunity and motive, innocence and experience that layers a coming-of-age story onto a multicultural background. War and conflict cast shadows throughout, but a second sequence includes a plea to ‘Let all / nations be gathered together.’ The ‘heart’ of the title is physical, emotional, and more: this fine book is written with great empathy and courage.” ~Martha Collins, author of White Papers

AUDIO: “Blood Ritual, Age 10”
by Carole Simmons Oles


Available at Lyon Books (Chico, CA), Grolier Poetry Book Shop (Cambridge, MA), or check your local independent bookstore.  Buy online at Powell’s, or University of New Mexico Press.


waking stone250


Waking Stone: Inventions on the Life of Harriet Hosmer (University of Arkansas Press, 2006)

“In this astounding and flawlessly structured book Oles has entered into a passionate dialogue with…Hosmer…she does this by ironically getting out of the self and exploring a world where a complex of voices counterpoint, support, and compete throughout this marvelously operatic work set against a background from the United States to Rome, and including a cast of characters ranging from Thomas Hart Benton to the Brownings to Papal scandals….We are left in the end with a hauntingly compelling vision of a life and times that Oles has rediscovered as our own life and times.” ~Richard Jackson

“How often is a book of poems simultaneously inspiring, informative, fun, solid as marble, sensuous as flesh, tough-minded and downright beautiful? Waking Stone is all those things. It gives us the purpose-driven life of the sculptor Harriet Hosmer splendidly ventriloquized by the poet Carole Simmons Oles. When I started, I couldn’t stop—the force of these poems blew me away. I am filled with admiration for the sculptor and the poet—two ‘women with sharp instruments’ in the service of their art.” ~Alicia Ostriker


Buy online at Powell’s, or University of Arkansas Press.


Greatest Hits: 1979 - 2005 by Carole Simmons Oles


Greatest Hits: 1979-2005 (Pudding House Publications, 2006)

Music lovers have purchased Greatest Hits from the music industry for decades and now Pudding House brings you hits from some of the hottest poets across the contemporary American literary landscape. The poems – most often requested for reprint or performance, pieces remembered by fans and groupies. Yes, poets have groupies, too!

The poets in this series write about their lives as poets with much diversity-some focusing on how the whole life affects their work. Others focus on their education, teaching, and presentations. The poets have been asked to write about the lives of the poems as well. From academic poets to community and street poets, the Greatest Hits series provides their top 12 numbers from a broad range of venues and publishing histories.

This invitational celebrates poetry’s place in our culture and honors the artists whose poems elevate America’s poetic sensibilities.





Sympathetic Systems (Lynx House Press, 2000)

“In Sympathetic Systems Carole Simmons Oles explores with great poignancy and precision the landscape of parenthood where it is most difficult to know one’s own heart and mind, that is, where independence collides with love and concern. These are beautiful, necessary poems.” ~Maxine Kumin


Buy online at AbeBooks.






Stunts by Carole Simmons Oles


Stunts (GreenTower Press, 1992)

Against the perils of proliferating nuclear power and the execution of Chinese students and citizens, a poem containing five fever dreams ends “I must crawl from the wreck”; and divorce is the word the speaker finally utters to her mother. Thus public and personal dangers besiege. Yet “What is, dances on.”

No blurbs in the press design for this book.


Buy online at AbeBooks.






The Deed (Louisiana State University Press, 1991)

“These are poems that explore the breakdown of trust in modern life. The pain is still alive, searing as a spike of hot lead. Yet one leaves this book most affected by the powerful vision that has shaped it—one of great endurance, humor, and dignity.  Here is a woman of spirit celebrating the small gestures that take enormous will and courage.”  ~Toi Derricotte


Buy online at Powell’s, or Louisiana State University Press.







Night Watches: Inventions on the Life of Maria Mitchell (Alice James Books, 1985)

“In Night Watches Carole Oles performs an act of empathy so subtle and thorough as to be an act of identification: she becomes Maria Mitchell, the pioneering American astronomer. The fears and condescensions Mitchell excites by being an intelligent woman are depressingly familiar from our current perspective, but what is perhaps most moving in Carole Oles’ achievement is her steady understanding of how Mitchell turned even these injustices into fuel for her work. For Mitchell finds, as we turn these compellingly readable pages, the clarity of heart that comes from forging purely personal standards of excellence. Oles has quite literally taken heart from Mitchell, and now the reader can do the same from this remarkable book.” ~William Matthews


Buy online at AbeBooks or from Alice James Books.




Quarry (University of Utah Press, 1983)

These poems focus on diverse subjects, from the opening section featuring the stonecarver, inspired by Oles’s father, to domestic life and variously satisfying relationships, the lessons of childhood carried into womanhood, the sustaining power of language against inevitable change and loss.


No blurbs in the press design for this book.


Buy online at AbeBooks. 



Sympathetic Systems by Carole Simmons Oles


The Loneliness Factor (Texas Tech University Press, 1979)

“Carole Oles writes of what is immediate and immanent—the dents, the hurts, the bruises of our daily dream of sustained joy. She is distinguished by the unflinching clarity of hard observation and the unusual depth of felt experience which she generates in a spare but lyrical language. We must be glad for the intense and worthy light her poems cast onto the sometimes anonymous family we are.” ~Dave Smith


Buy online at AbeBooks.