Monday, December 29, 2014

The Complete Poems: Anne Sexton by Anne Sexton

I listened to an interview in which Madonna mentioned that Anne Sexton's poetry influenced her. I was intrigued enough to research Anne Sexton because I'd never heard of her. Once I read a little about Sexton, I knew I needed to read her poetry, if for no other reason than to see if I could learn anything from her work that would help my own poetry writing. So I decided to buy The Complete Poems: Anne Sexton by Anne Sexton. I opted to take my time and only read a few poems a day when I started The Complete Poems: Anne Sexton. I wanted to think about the poems, to really internalize them, to study style, to learn from them. Some days it was tempting to read several. Other days I found it a struggle to read even one. Sexton played with words and social norms in ways that I can only imagine upset people when they were published. Her poems ripped into fairy tales and religion with the same irreverence in a way I found refreshing at times and uncomfortable at others, but those poems always made me think as good poetry should. She tackled life head-on in some poems and wrote all around topics in others. I found myself relating to her need to both expose and hide. Certain poems resonated with me on a deep level. Others had me scrambling for meaning. Still others inspired me to try new ideas in my own poetry. As I consciously and slowly worked my way through the over 600 pages of poems, I discovered some limits I didn't know I had. I thought how I'd never feel comfortable writing about some of the topics Sexton covered, but I also discovered a desire to push my work in different directions. The thing that's always interesting about a complete work is its range. There are poems in this book that will appeal to many as well as poems people will find offensive. And, while it shows a great deal of insight into the human condition, there are times when it feels incredibly, personally voyeuristic. I love poems that go to the depths of human experience, so this appealed to me.

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