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Role of Anne Sexton - Research Paper Example

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Writer Customer English 2 November’ 2011 Role of Anne Sexton’s Mental Illness in her Poetry Anne Sexton was a Twentieth century feminist writer. She wrote her first poem at the age of 17 which was published in the year book of Rogers Hall which was a preparatory school for girls in Lowell Mass…
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Download file to see previous pages In the beginning of the year 1956 her mental condition worsened which lead her to her first psychiatric hospitalization and her first suicide attempt. In December 1956 under the guidance of her psychiatrist Dr. Martin she resumed writing poetry. Although Anne was mentally disturbed and she attempted to commit suicide twice before she finally succeeded in taking her life on 4 October’ 1974 in her garage yet during her life time she flourished as a feminist poet (Commire and Klezmer 115-125). As it is a cliche that writing poetry has a cathartic effect on an individual similarly for Anne writing poetry had a therapeutic effect hence she enrolled in John Holmes’s poetry workshop where she met Maxine Kumin. Yet falling once again into deep depression Anne attempted another suicide in May 1957. Though she was hospitalized again yet she continued writing poetry and in August received a scholarship to Antioch Writers' Conference where she met W. D. Snodgrass. In 1958 Anne enrolled in Robert Lowell's graduate writing seminar at Boston University where she met Sylvia Plath and George Starbuck. During her life time she achieved various awards which includes Audience Poetry Prize in 1959, in 1965 she was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in London, in 1966 she won a Pulitzer-Prize, in June 1968 Anne was awarded honorary Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard and eventually she won the award of full professorship in 1972(Commire and Klezmer 123-128). Colburn states, “On her twenty eighth birthday in 1956 she attempted suicide a month later she began writing poetry; two and a half years later her first book was published… ‘It was’ she said, ‘a kind of rebirth’ (7). Moreover, “Sexton always claimed that her career as a poet had the shape of a story; and that it opened not with the event of writing her first poem but with the suicide attempt that separated her from her former life” (Colburn 7). Hence it is observed that Anne Sexton’s mental illness acted as the mediator in initiating her writing career. Moreover other governing principles which influence her writings include depression, her experience of hospitalization as well as her suicide attempts. Schmidt and Warner also assert that, “…Sexton’s writing is inherently bound with issues of hospitalization, mania, depression and confinement all of which were factors in the poet’s works and her determination to write” (179). Anne sexton is often grouped with such poets as Sylvia Plath, John Berryman and Robert Lowell who were the leading figure in the so-called 'Confessional Movement'. Colburn says that, “confessional poetry is poetry of suffering. The suffering is generally unbearable because the poetry often projects breakdown and paranoia” (65). For example critics believe that a lot of poems in her first book i.e. “The Bedlam and Part Way Back” are explicitly about her experience in the mental asylum. As observed in her poem “Ringing the Bells” that she states, And this is the way they ring The bells in Bedlam And this is the bell-lady Who comes each Tuesday morning To give us a music lesson And because the attendants makes you go And because we mind by instinct, Like bees caught in the wrong hive, We are the circle of crazy ladies (Middlebrook and George 23). In this excerpt ‘they’ is referring to the administration of the mental asylum and the manner in which they treated their patients i.e. the detached and impersonal ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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