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Sharon Olds, the author of four highly acclaimed books of poetry, does with words the kind of startling things Sally Mann does with a camera. Olds rejects polite convention, offering instead high-contrast pictures of the uneasy and the hidden. In beautiful, disturbing, and compelling language, she explores specific intersections of sex and love—her father’s naked body as she watches him die of cancer, the moment a baby exits the vagina. The New York Times Magazine called her an “Earth Mother,” but her work is far too visceral and independent for that dubious appellation. She reads in conjunction with the Folger Poetry Series at 8 p.m. at the Church of the Reformation, 222 East Capitol St. NE. $10. (202) 544-7077. (Holly Bass)