November 9 ~  Listen Hard Anne Sexton biography

"Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard." ~ Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton

Listening hard, confessional poet Anne Gray Harvey Sexton (1928-1974) wrote with confessional passion, sharing her heart with the world. She was born on this day in Newton, Massachusetts and begun writing poetry in high school.

"It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was," she said of her childhood.

Sexton struggled with mental illness throughout her life, seeing her first psychiatrist in 1955 after the birth of her first child. Encouraged by her therapist to write out her feelings, she published To Bedlam and Part Way Back (1960), her first book of poetry.

"Even without wars, life is dangerous," she said, spending her life struggle with sanity and death.

As a poet exploring life's inner-turmoils, she shared her passion for writing with W. D. Snodgrass, Robert Lowell, and Sylvia Plath.

With her emphasis on personal experience, Sexton's "creation as therapy" inspired singer Peter Gabriel's multi-platinum album, So, which featured the song Mercy Street. Sexton said, "No matter what I write, I plead with it."

A teacher at Boston University, she won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1966 for her third book, Live or Die. She wrote: "I say Live, Live because of the sun,/the dream, the excitable gift."

Listen hard to the wisdom of your soul.