Honestly, I'm a Liar, & Other Balances & Imbalances

May 26, 2015

The Lonely Masturbator

Filed under: Uncategorized — namelessneed @ 11:01 am

The Drugstore Notebook

the lonely masturbatorAfter the poet dies, people like to argue about the relevance of their work. Was it innovative? Did it do something new for form, for formality, for fluency. Does it deserve to be reread in schools or university seminars?

Sometimes this discussion is valid. Sometimes the poetry in question is perhaps only marginally relevant. Other times the discussion becomes ridiculous, as it does when it concerns a poet like Anne Sexton (1928-1974).

Sexton, often linked to the Confessional poets, which includes writers like Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell and John Berryman, is unequivocally relevant because she did something new. She put her body and intimate life on display in a way that predates performance art. Sure, Plath spilled her heart and soul, but it was coded in lovely metaphor.  Sexton’s poetry is crude, crude in a way that was new.

Indeed, Sexton’s legacy bears the mark of all torchbearers — harsh, almost juvenile, criticism. James Dickey, one of…

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