Today is the 37th anniversary of Anne Sexton's death.
Anne Sexton's unapologetic poetry, her preoccupation with femininity and the macabre, her use of poetry as a channel for mental illness, made me want to write when I was a teenager. Discovering The Awful Rowing Toward God made me want to make beautiful things out of ugly feelings. Her book Transitions renewed my love of fairy tales. Her book of complete poems is one of the only entire collections by a poet I've read cover-to-cover.
Here's a video of Anne reading "Her Kind." The biography it mentions by Diane Middlebrook is a really interesting book and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about her life, her many affairs and relationships with other writers of the time, her sickness and how it fueled her poetry.
Like many, I can't help but be drawn to self-destructive artists, poets and musicians. But I so wish she had survived her illness and continued to share her voice with the world. Anne would have been 83 this year.
"Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard." -Anne Sexton