Anne Sexton’s Confessional Tradition and Individual Talent

Saudi Arabia, ID CLEaR2015-204

In his most influential essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” T. S. Eliot emphasizes the significance of tradition and the importance of the past in the creative poetic process as well as the fact that every artist has his own original and individual themes and techniques that separate him from his group. Anne Sexton, the Confessional American woman poet, is a good example that proves this everlasting notion of the allusion to the “the dead poets” of the past together with the inevitable existence of the innovative original talent of the poet. Chiefly, Sexton is labeled “Confessional” and is almost always linked with the most remarkable Confessional poets like Robert Lowell, W. W. Snodgrass, John Berryman, and Sylvia Plath just because of her employment of extraordinary personal experiences in an unusual manner.  However, the Confessional mode is not an absolute new movement; it has its roots in the British tradition of the Metaphysical lyrics of John Donne and Andrew Marvel, for instance. It is also manifest in the American tradition of New England Puritan Poetry as in Anne Bradstreet’s “Submission to Chastisement” where the author speaks plainly about familial suffering to God. Moreover, Confessional themes and techniques can be seen in Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” which can be compared with Sexton’s “In Celebration of My Uterus.” Meanwhile, it is Anne Sexton’s exceptional Confessional “individual talent” that makes her an original and unique Confessional poet: the uncommon imperfect raw confession, the unconventional bold sexual imagery, the fearful and astonishing religious symbols and the excessive degrees of “impersonality” are all characteristic examples of Sexton’s creative Confessional art.