Looking every inch the (glamorous) poet Anne Sexton looks wryly at the world, cigarette in hand, on the back cover of Life or Die, a 1966 book of poems she won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for, which I picked up in a second hand bookshop this week. It doesn’t contain my favourite Sexton poem, Pain for a Daughter, but it’s a really interesting and powerful collection, especially as I’ve been writing a little about Sylvia Plath for senior English students this year.
The blurb says: The poems are arranged chronologically and compose a fierce and intimate autobiograpy. The poet speaks with total frankness, her imagery and reference brilliant and hard as diamonds. It is impossible for her to be banal. Much of her experience is rendered as nightmare, but it is significant that the final poem is stunningly affirmative, its title the single command, “Live”.It was less than ten years later that she commited suicide.