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Anne Sexon photo by Elsa Dorfman, fair use

Anne Sexton (1928-1974)

A selective list of literary criticism for American confessional poet Anne Sexton, favoring signed articles by recognized scholars and articles published in peer-reviewed sources


"Anne Sexton." Includes sections on Anne Sexton's Life; A Sexton Chronology; Sexton's Career, by Diana Hume George; About Anne Sexton; On "Her Kind"; On "The Truth the Dead Know"; On "One for My Dame"; A Sexton Bibliography. Modern American Poetry (Univ. of Illinois).

"Anne Sexton." Biography, bibliography, selected poems. Poetry Foundation.

"Housewife into Poet: The Apprenticeship of Anne Sexton." By Diane Middlebrook, Anne Sexton's biograper. The New England Quarterly 56, 4 (Dec., 1983), pp. 483-503 [free at jstor].

"Anne Sexton." An introduction to Anne Sexton. Academy of American Poets.

"The Death Is Not the Life." Katha Pollitt on Diane Middlebrook's 1991 Anne Sexton: A Biography, and on Sexton's life. The New York Times 18 August, 1991.

"Anne Sexton." Poetry Archive. Directors, Andrew Motion & Richard Carrington.

"A Band of Her Own." About Sexton's experiments reciting her poems to music, includes some brief tapes and videos. The musicians were collaborative and seriously creative, though the archive of their tapes may now be lost. By Kelsey Osgood in Harper's Magazine 27 Oct. 2014 [free].

"The Mad Poets Society." An article about McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, "once America's most literary mental institution," where Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, and Anne Sexton spent time. By Alex Beam, in the Atlantic, July/August 2001 [free].

Remembering Anne Sexton, by her longterm and sincere admirer Erica Jong. The New York Times 27 October, 1974.

"Interview with Anne Sexton." Interviewed by Patricia Marx in the Hudson Review 18, 4 (Winter, 1965-1966), pp. 560-570 [free at jstor].

W.D. Snodgrass gives a powerful reading from Heart's Needle, his cycle of poems that gave courage to Anne Sexton to write as she did. From the Poetry Foundation. For more on the influence of Snodgrass see the Fitz Gerald interview with Anne Sexton, below.

literary criticism

Alkalay-Gut, Karen. "The dream life of Ms. Dog: Anne Sexton's revolutionary use of pop culture." College Literature 32, 4 (Fall, 2005), pp. 50-73 [free at jstor].

Cam, Heather. "'Daddy': Sylvia Plath's Debt to Anne Sexton." American Literature 59, 3 (Oct., 1987), pp. 429-432 [preview or purchase at jstor].

Fitz Gerald, Gregory; and Anne Sexton. "The Choir from the Soul: A Conversation with Anne Sexton." An interview taped a few months before her suicide. The Massachusetts Review 9, 1 (Spring, 1978), pp. 69-88 [free at jstor] .

Gill, Jo. "Textual Confessions: Narcissism in Anne Sexton's early poetry." An extended article on confessional poetry, in which Gill contends "the implication that contemporary avant-garde poetry is 'radical' while the confessional poetry that preceded it is reactionary and conservative itself merits scrutiny." Twentieth Century Literature 50, 1 (Spring, 2004), pp. 59-87 [free at jstor].

Gill, Jo. "'My Sweeney, Mr. Eliot': Anne Sexton and the 'Impersonal Theory of Poetry.'" Journal of Modern Literature 27, 1/2, Modern Poets (Autumn, 2003), pp. 36-56 [free at jstor].

Gill, Jo. "Anne Sexton and Confessional Poetics." The Review of English Studies 55, 220 (Jun., 2004), pp. 425-445 [preview or purchase, for $42!, at jstor].

Hoffman, Nancy Yanes; and Jeffrey L. Lant. "Two Perspectives on Anne Sexton." Southwest Review 64, 3 (Summer 1979), pp. 209-219 [free at jstor].

McClatchy, J.D. "Anne Sexton: Somehow to Endure." The Centennial Review 19, 2 (Spring 1975), pp. 1-36 [free at jstor].

Miller, Nancy K. "Remembering Anne Sexton: Maxine Kumin in Conversation with Diane Middlebrook." Excerpt of a transcript from a 1980 interview of Sexton's friend, the respected poet Maxine Kumin, discussing Anne Sexton, interviewed by Sexton's biographer Diane Middlebrook. PMLA 127, 2 (March 2012), pp. 292-300 [free at jstor].

Perez, Ashley. "Anne Sexton in Search of 'an Accident of Hope.'" New England Review 34, 1 (2013), pp. 20-31 [free at jstor].

Pritchard, William H. "The Anne Sexton Show." Pritchard reviews Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters, by Anne Sexton, Linda Gray Sexton, and Lois Ames. Article in the Hudson Review 31, 2 (Summer, 1978), pp. 387-392 [free at jstor].

Shurr, William H. "Mysticism and Suicide: Anne Sexton's Last Poetry." Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal 68, 3 (Fall 1985), pp. 335-356 [free at jstor].

Waters, Melanie. "'I think it would be better to be a Jew': Anne Sexton and the Holocaust." Critical Survey 20, 2, Holocaust Poetry (2008), pp. 65-77 [free at jstor].

Anne Sexton's papers at the Univ. of Texas Austin.

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