Read Selected Poems of Anne Sexton by Anne Sexton Free Online
Book Title: Selected Poems of Anne Sexton|
The author of the book: Anne Sexton
Edition: Mariner Books
Date of issue: 1988
ISBN 13: 9780395477823
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 731 KB
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Reader ratings: 3.8
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Anne Sexton is considered both a religious and feminist poet, a product of her upbringing and the era in which she lived. Born in 1928 outside of Boston to descendants of Puritans, Sexton was the oldest daughter in a deeply Christian family. Although her family may have expected more from her, Sexton exhibited that she wanted to write poetry from a young age. Until she committed suicide in 1974, Sexton achieved her goal of being one of the nation's premier poet laureates, winning the Pulitzer for To Live or Die in 1960. Selected Poems gleans poetry from each of her collections, including those published posthumously.
Sexton's poetry in this volume mixes her religious values with her experience in the feminist movement. Many selections describe her experience in church and her expectations for what will occur when she dies. Influenced by both of her parents' deaths in 1959, the height of her own popularity, Sexton's work at the time is dark and contains much mention of hospitals, doctors, medicine, and her distrust of the health care profession. As she grapples with death, she begins to hint at taking her own life, which she does later. The poetry in this section ends up being too dark for my taste.
As the feminist movement takes root, Sexton writes much of a woman's role sexually. She limits her focus to this aspect of a woman's place in relationships, although I would have liked to know her opinion about a woman's role in the workforce and society at large. Her poetry is graphic as she describes an abortion, rape, the role of a uterus, and intercourse. While these poems may have been important to the feminist movement they were also a little too graphic for my tastes, even though I am generally a proponent of women's issues. Perhaps if the poems were less racy, I would have lauded them more as important to the feminist cause.
One section that did work for me was Sexton's retelling of various Disney and fairytale princess stories. Traditionally these tales involve a princess getting involved in a life or death situation only to have a prince bale them out. Here, Sexton writes of the background information, and casts the villainess in an even worse light than does Disney. In one case, the princess is the real hero rather than the prince, and in the case of Snow White, it is circumstances rather than the prince's efforts that lead the couple to live happily ever after.
While Anne Sexton is lauded as a religious and feminist poet, her poems are a little too dark for my taste. Grappling with issues as death, Christianity, and the body, Sexton's work is depressing, graphic, and hint at the suicide she will later commit. One can see the brilliance in her work, but the themes and lack of positive energy were a little to negative for me, thus I rate Selected Poems by Anne Sexton 3 stars.
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Read information about the authorAnne Sexton once told a journalist that her fans thought she got better, but actually, she just became a poet. These words are characteristic of a talented poet that received therapy for years, but committed suicide in spite of this. The poetry fed her art, but it also imprisoned her in a way.
Her parents didn’t expect much of her academically, and after completing her schooling at Rogers Hall, she went to a finishing school in Boston. Anne met her husband, Kayo (Alfred Muller Sexton II), in 1948 by correspondence. Her mother advised her to elope after she thought she might be pregnant. Anne and Kayo got married in 1948 in North Carolina. After the honeymoon Kayo started working at his father-in-law’s wool business.
In 1953 Anne gave birth to her first-born, Linda Gray. Two years later Linda’s sister, Joyce Ladd, was born. But Anne couldn’t cope with the pressure of two small children over and above Kayo’s frequent absence (due to work). Shortly after Joy was born, Anne was admitted to Westwood Lodge where she was treated by the psychiatrist Dr. Martha Brunner-Orne (and six months later, her son, Dr. Martin Orne, took over). The original diagnosis was for post-natal depression, but the psychologists later decided that Anne suffered from depression of biological nature.
While she was receiving psychiatric treatment, Anne started writing poetry. It all started after another suicide attempt, when Orne came to her and told her that she still has a purpose in life. At that stage she was convinced that she could only become a prostitute. Orne showed her another talent that she had, and her first poetry appeared in print in January 1957. She wrote a huge amount of poetry that was published in a dozen poetry books. In 1967 she became the proud recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Live or Die (1966).
In March 1972 Anne and Kayo got divorced. After this a desperate kind of loneliness took over her life. Her addiction to pills and alcohol worsened. Without Kayo the house was very quiet, the children were at college and most of Anne’s friends were avoiding her because they could no longer sympathize with her growing problems. Her poetry started playing such a major role in her life that conflicts were written out, rather than being faced. Anne didn’t mention a word to Kayo about her intention to get divorced. He knew that she desperately needed him, but her poems, and her real feelings toward him, put it differently. Kayo talks about it in an interview as follows: “... I honestly don’t know, never have known, what her real, driving motive was in the divorce. Which is another reason why it absolutely drove me into the floor like a nail when she did it.”
On 4 October 1974 she put on her mother’s old fur coat before, glass of vodka in hand, she climbed into her car, turned the key and died of monodioxide inhalation. She once told Orne that “I feel like my mother whenever I put it [the fur coat] on”. Her oldest daughter, Linda, was appointed as literary executor and we have her to thank for the three poetry books that appeared posthumously.
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