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The Writers Forum at SUNY Brockport

Anne Sexton -- Poet

Host(s): William Heyen and A. Poulin, Jr.

Tape order number: C-199

Visit Date: September 10, 1973

Length: 10 hours, 1 minute

Published as:

  • "From 1928 to Whenever: A Conversation with Anne Sexton." American Poets in 1976. William Heyen,Ed. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1976. 306-28.
  • "With William Heyen and Al Poulin." No Evil Star:Selected Essays, Interviews, and Prose . Steven E. Colburn, Ed. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1985. 130-57.

Brief Summary: Sexton talks about her designation as a "confessional poet" and the shifts in the themes of her poems through the years. She says that she writes what she wants and has to write, but that she often uses other people's stories, making them her own with an "I" voice. She also feels free to fictionalize experience, and isn't worried about being misinterpreted. Sexton talks about a progression in her poems from madness and sin to love and God, but feels that sin is a theme she has carried throughout.

Work(s) Discussed:

  • Ti Bedlam and Back
  • Transformations
  • The Death Notebooks
  • The Awful Rowing Toward God

Work(s) Read:

  • "With Mercy for the Greedy"
  • "Unknown Girl in the Maternity Ward"
  • "The Little Peasant"
  • "The Fury of Cocks"

Writers mentioned:

  • R. Wilbur
  • W.D. Snodgrass
  • M. Kumin
  • J. Dickey

I often confess to things that never happened.

-- Anne Sexton

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