Here’s today’s poet, Anne Sexton.
Anne Sexton (November 9, 1928 – October 4, 1974) was an American poet known for her highly personal, confessional verse. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for her book Live or Die. Her poetry details her long battle with depression, suicidal tendencies, and intimate details from her private life, including relationships with her husband and children, whom it was later revealed she physically and sexually assaulted.
Anne Sexton was born Anne Gray Harvey in Newton, Massachusetts, on November 9, 1928. She attended boarding school at Rogers Hall Lowell, Massachusetts, where she first started writing poetry. She attended Garland Junior College for one year and married Alfred Muller Sexton II at age nineteen. Sexton and her husband spent time in San Francisco before moving back to Massachusetts for the birth of their first daughter, Linda Gray Sexton, in 1953.
After her second daughter was born in 1955, Sexton was encouraged by her doctor to pursue an interest in poetry that she had developed in high school. In the fall of 1957, she joined writing groups in Boston that introduced her to many writers such as Maxine Kumin, Robert Lowell, and Sylvia Plath. She published her first two books, To Bedlam and Part Way Back (1960) and All My Pretty Ones (1962), with Houghton Mifflin.
In 1965, Sexton was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in London. She then went on to win the 1967 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her third collection, Live or Die (Houghton Mifflin, 1966). In total, Sexton published nine volumes of poetry during her lifetime, including Love Poems (Houghton Mifflin, 1969), The Book of Folly (Houghton Mifflin, 1973) and The Awful Rowing Toward God (Houghton Mifflin, 9175). She also authored several children’s books with Maxine Kumin.
Sexton received several major literary prizes including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the 1967 Shelley Memorial Prize, the 1962 Levinson Prize, and the Frost Fellowship to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. She taught at Boston University and Colgate University, and died on October 4, 1974, in Weston, Massachusetts. Her papers are collected and housed at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
Check out a new favorite of mine and hope one of yours. Enjoy.
F. M. Laster
“I only like two kinds of men, domestic and imported.” -Mae West
Admonitions To A Special Person
by Anne Sexton
Watch out for power,
for its avalanche can bury you,
snow, snow, snow, smothering your mountain.
Watch out for hate,
it can open its mouth and you’ll fling yourself out
to eat off your leg, an instant leper.
Watch out for friends,
because when you betray them,
as you will,
they will bury their heads in the toilet
and flush themselves away.
Watch out for intellect,
because it knows so much it knows nothing
and leaves you hanging upside down,
mouthing knowledge as your heart
falls out of your mouth.
Watch out for games, the actor’s part,
the speech planned, known, given,
for they will give you away
and you will stand like a naked little boy,
pissing on your own child-bed.
Watch out for love
(unless it is true,
and every part of you says yes including the toes) ,
it will wrap you up like a mummy,
and your scream won’t be heard
and none of your running will end.
Love? Be it man. Be it woman.
It must be a wave you want to glide in on,
give your body to it, give your laugh to it,
give, when the gravelly sand takes you,
your tears to the land. To love another is something
like prayer and can’t be planned, you just fall
into its arms because your belief undoes your disbelief.
if I were you I’d pay no attention
to admonitions from me,
made somewhat out of your words
and somewhat out of mine.
I do not believe a word I have said,
except some, except I think of you like a young tree
with pasted-on leaves and know you’ll root
and the real green thing will come.
Let go. Let go.
Oh special person,
this typewriter likes you on the way to them,
but wants to break crystal glasses
when the dark crust is thrown off
and you float all around
like a happened balloon.