Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters

Open Road Media
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A revealing collection of letters from Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Anne Sexton

While confessional poet Anne Sexton included details of her life and battle with mental illness in her published work, her letters to family, friends, and fellow poets provide an even more intimate glimpse into her private world. Selected from thousands of letters and edited by Linda Gray Sexton, the poet’s daughter, and Lois Ames, one of her closest friends, this collection exposes Sexton’s inner life from her boarding school days through her years of growing fame and ultimately to the months leading up to her suicide.
 
Correspondence with writers like W. D. Snodgrass, Robert Lowell, and May Swenson reveals Sexton’s growing confidence in her identity as a poet as she discusses her craft, publications, and teaching appointments. Her private letters chart her marriage to Alfred “Kayo” Sexton, from the giddy excitement following their elopement to their eventual divorce; her grief over the death of her parents; her great love for her daughters balanced with her frustration with the endless tasks of being a housewife; and her persistent struggle with depression. Going beyond the angst and neuroses of her poetry, these letters portray the full complexities of the woman behind the art: passionate, anguished, ambitious, and yearning for connection.
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About the author

Anne Sexton (1928–1974) was a Pulitzer Prize–winning American poet born in Newton, Massachusetts. She attended Garland Junior College for one year and briefly worked as a model. She married Alfred Muller Sexton II at age nineteen, and in 1953 gave birth to a daughter. Shortly after, she was diagnosed with postpartum depression. When Sexton attempted suicide after the birth of her second daughter, her doctor encouraged her to pursue her interest in writing poetry, and in the fall of 1957, she enrolled in a poetry workshop at the Boston Center for Adult Education.
 
Like Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, W. D. Snodgrass (who exerted a great influence on her work), and other Confessional poets, Sexton offers the reader an intimate view of the emotional anguish that characterized her life. The experience of being a woman was a central issue in her poetry, and though she endured criticism for bringing subjects such as menstruation, abortion, and drug addiction into her work, her skill as a poet transcended the controversy over her subject matter. Sexton’s poetry collections include To Bedlam and Part Way Back, All My Pretty Ones, Transformations, and Live or Die, which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967. In 1974 at the age of forty-six, Sexton lost her battle with mental illness and committed suicide.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Road Media
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Published on
Apr 5, 2016
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Pages
433
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ISBN
9781504034371
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Women
Literary Collections / Letters
Literary Collections / Women Authors
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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