Anne Sexton, Singer: ‘Her Kind’ and the Musical Impetus in Lyric Confessional Verse

In her 1970 essay 'Rock Poetry, Relevance, and Revelation', Helen English comments on what she calls the 'painted pony' of the 'educational merry-go-round'. 'Too much and too often,' she writes, 'we teachers of English approach poetry through analysis. This method might be fine for the college prep student, who is more capable, but this analysis is where the average student gets turned off. Not all students are capable of handling the analytical approach, but almost all of them "feel" a piece of literature in some way' (1123). Certainly, more often than not, we 'feel' a piece of poetry somehow, even though we might try to mask those feelings with an analytical sophistication; an attempt to approach poetry through an intellectual rather than sensory methodology. Whether read or spoken, to the scholar, the poet, the musician or the classroom teacher, many contend that poetry's primary objective is to communicate experience. Moreover, as English suggests, poetry almost always has a profoundly influential acoustic effect upon us. She writes: 'if poetry communicates the poet's feeling or emotive experience, it has a liberating effect on the reader or listener. It releases the inner sea of feeling. Music does the same thing' (1123).

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Published 1 June 2014 in Volume 29 No. 1-2. Subjects: American (USA) literature and writers, Interdisciplinary studies, Music, Poetry, Sexton, Anne.

Cite as: Daile Sumner, Tyne. ‘Anne Sexton, Singer: ‘Her Kind’ and the Musical Impetus in Lyric Confessional Verse.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 29, no. 1-2, 2014. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.56d23ba6f6.