With little formal training in literature, Anne Sexton emerged as a major modern voice, transforming verse begun as therapy into poetic art of the first order. Important for refining the confessional mode, experimenting with new lyrical forms, and presenting themes from the female consciousness, Sexton had the controversial impact of any pioneering artist. Despite periodic hospitalization for depression, ultimately culminating in her suicide at age forty-six, Sexton contributed richly to her craft, receiving much critical recognition and traveling widely.
Awarded fellowships to most of the major writing conferences, Sexton worked closely with John Holmes, W. D. Snodgrass, Robert Lowell, Kumin, and others. She taught creative writing at Harvard, Radcliffe, and Boston University, and she served as editorial consultant to the New York Poetry Quarterly and as a member of the board of directors of Audience magazine. She won the Levinson Prize from Poetry magazine in 1962, and her second collection of poetry, All My Pretty Ones, was nominated for a National Book Award in 1963. In 1967, she received the Shelley Memorial Award and a Pulitzer Prize for her fourth collection, Live or Die. Sexton also received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1969 and many honorary degrees from major universities.
Although most critics believe the quality of her work deteriorated toward the end of her life, by that time, she had achieved...
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