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


"This article considers Anne Sexton's short-lived, mesmerising ensemble as a model for the wider musical impetus in lyric confessional verse. It argues that Sexton used the inherent audibility of the lyric poem—in live readings, recorded readings, and music contexts—to create the illusion of an authentic authorial event. Using lyric poetry theory as a foundation, I assess Anne Sexton and Her Kind (hereafter 'Her Kind') alongside its mid-twentieth century literary and publicity contexts, as a means of exploring the reception and efficacy of the touring collective. A key consideration of the article is the array of illusionary tactics available to Sexton's band that allowed her to challenge the formalist approach that had dominated the poetry readings of many of her predecessors. Finally, given that almost no comprehensive criticism exists on the topic of Sexton's brief musical collective, the article analyses Her Kind to begin considering some of the ways in which the mode of mid-twentieth-century confessional poetry overlaps with musical composition."

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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, doi: 10.20314/als.56d23ba6f6.