Anne Sexton - Life Stories, Books, and Links
Biographical Information

Stories about Anne Sexton

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Picture of Anne Sexton, poet; twentieth century American Literature and poetry
Anne Sexton   (1928 - 1974)
Category:  American Literature
Born:  November 9, 1928
Newton, Massachusetts, United States
Died:  October 4, 1974
Newton, Massachusetts, United States
Related authors:
John Berryman, Sylvia Plath
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Anne Sexton - LIFE STORIES
4/22/1960     Anne Sexton, "Her Kind," Suicide
On this day in 1960, "confessional" American poet Anne Sexton published To Bedlam and Part Way Back, her first book of poetry, titled from experience. One poem in the collection is "Her Kind"; this signature piece would usually start Sexton's readings and, when the readings became performances accompanied by a chamber rock group, would have her billed as "Anne Sexton and Her Kind."
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The Complete Poems
anthology, poetry
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Anne Sexton: A Biography
by Diane Wood Middlebrook
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Academy of American Poets
Sexton biography, poetry, bibliography, and links. Selected poems include "Her Kind," "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "The Truth the Dead Know," and "Wanting to Die."

"In her introduction to Anne Sexton's Complete Poems, the poet Maxine Kumin, who was enrolled with Sexton in the 1957 workshop and became her close friend, describes her belief that it was the writing of poetry that gave Sexton something to work towards and develop and thus enabled her to endure life for as long as she did. In 1974 at the age of 46, despite a successful writing career--she won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for Live or Die--she lost her battle with mental illness and committed suicide."
Anne Sexton (1928 – 1974)
This useful resource provides a framework for teaching Sexton. Offers commentary on classroom issues and strategies, suggested topics for discussion, a review of major themes, historical perspectives, and personal issues, notes on form, style, and artistic conventions, and literary connections with poets including Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, John Berryman, W. D. Snodgrass, Adrienne Rich, and Denise Levertov.

"A balanced presentation of Sexton would include mention of her major themes, most of which are touched upon in the selection of poems here: religious quest, transformation and dismantling of myth, the meanings of gender, inheritance and legacy, the search for fathers, mother-daughter relationships, sexual anxiety, madness and suicide, issues of female identity. ... Many of Sexton's readers have been women, and she has perhaps a special appeal for female readers because of her domestic imagery. She also found a wide readership among people who have experienced emotional illness or depression. But Sexton's appeal is wider than a specialist audience. She is exceptionally accessible, writes in deliberately colloquial style, and her diversity and range are such that she appeals to students from different backgrounds."
Anne Sexton: The Life vs. The Work
Find three short essays which explore the poet's impact and enduring legacy, and the blurred line between the writer's life and works.

"Perhaps one of Sexton's greatest gifts will be that of continually laying bare the intensity of this phenomenon - really putting it into overdrive. Her poems put a weird pressure on us to stake out our relation to them: you might feel compelled to say, 'I'm not a woman like that,' as Eileen Myles did at the Tribute; others might share James Dickey's embarrassment: 'One feels tempted to drop [Sexton's poems] furtively in the nearest ashcan, rather than to be caught with them in the presence of so much naked suffering.' The point is that it's virtually impossible to talk about Sexton's work without becoming implicated in the problems she addresses, be they those of sexuality (i.e., the pleasures and pitfalls of heterosexuality, homosexuality, masturbation, exhibitionism, incest, etc.); psychoanalysis and the costs of 'the civilizing process'; love and hate for one's parents, children, lovers, and friends; the cruelty and seductions of fairytales and myths; the drive toward a crazed religiosity; and so on."
Modern American Poetry
Offers a biography, chronology of events in the poet's life, a bibliography, and analysis and commentary on "Her Kind," "The Truth the Dead Know," and "One for My Dame."

"Much of what Sexton wrote was in no way autobiographical, despite the sense of reality it had, and thus criticisms of her writing as 'confessional' are misleading. She used her knowledge of the human condition--often painful, but sometimes joyous--to create poems readers could share. Her incisive metaphors, the unexpected rhythms of her verse, and her ability to grasp a range of meaning in precise words have secured Sexton's good reputation. Though comparatively short, her writing career was successful, as was her art."
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March 17, 2018
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