April 28, 2009

The opposite of a poem

Tripping on some interview excerpts at the Paris Review archives, I ran into an interview with the "confessional" poet, Anne Sexton, from the Summer of 1971. They are talking about Sylvia Plath, whose life and suicide has been much discussed in the decades since her death in 1965. (Unfortunately, the Paris Review interview, is among the few that are not part of the wonderful archive online.)
Suicide is, after all, the opposite of the poem. Sylvia and I often talked opposites. We talked death with burned-up intensity, both of us drawn to it like moths to an electric lightbulb, sucking on it.
Anne wrote about Sylvia's death:
Thief --
how did you crawl into,
crawl down alone
into the death I wanted so badly and for so long,
the death we said we both outgrew,
the one we wore on our skinny breasts,
the one we talked of so often each time
we downed three extra dry martinis in Boston,
the death that talked of analysts and cures,
the death that talked like brides with plots,
the death we drank to,
the motives and the quiet deed?
Sadly, Anne Sexton herself was to commit suicide three years later.
On October 4, 1974, Sexton had lunch with Kumin to review Sexton's most recent book, The Awful Rowing Toward God. Upon returning home, she put on her mother's old fur coat, locked herself in her garage, started the engine of her car and committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Also see this fourteen-minute video (2 parts) where we see Anne Sexton at home reading, talking about poetry and about her family.
I myself will die without baptism,
a third daughter they didn't bother.
My death will come on my name day.
What's wrong with the name day?
It's only an angel of the Sun.
weaving a web over your own,
a thin and tangled poison.
bad spider ?

Also, you can read some of her poems here and here and read more about Anne Sexton's life and career. Or better still read about her life, in her own words (some great pics too at the link.)
“That ragged Christ, that sufferer, performed the greatest act of confession, and I mean with his body. I try to do that with words” - Anne Sexton

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