Sylvia Plath Questions and Answers

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Which poet ranks as the most confessional of the confessional poets: Plath, Ginsberg, Bishop, or Lowell? Ginsberg: "Howl" and "A Supermarket in California" Plath: "Daddy" and "Lady Lazarus" Bishop: "The Fish" and "The Moose" Lowell: "Skunk Hour" and "For the Union Dead"

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Although Sylvia Plath (often along with Anne Sexton) is most inexorably tied with the Confessional movement of poetry, Robert Lowell, the creator of the style, is probably the most confessional of those you mention above. Confessional poets used the “I” and spoke of personal matters such as love and family. Lowell’s book Life Studies, published in 1959, was perhaps the first example of this style. Sylvia Plath was his student, and was influenced by him early on.

One hallmark of Confessional poetry is the naming and discussing of things that had been previously left out of poems, and this is why Plath, so unafraid to speak of even the darkest topics, often carries the mantel of most famous Confessional poet. That said, her most noted poem, “Daddy,” while using an “I” and speaking to a family member, bears only a passing resemblance to her own lived experience with her father and, instead, uses existing, personal emotions and metaphor to create a heightened and personal-feeling...

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