I’ve already put up some Anne Sexton on here in the past, but today I wanted to share a recording of her reading one of her most famous poems – Her Kind. Sexton felt her poetry, her words, on a whole other level. She turned them into performance pieces, often accompanying the recited words with background music. While this version doesn’t include music, you can hear how haunting and intense her voice is.
As someone who adores Confessionalist poetry and always lists Sylvia Plath as a favorite writer, it seems like a given that Anne Sexton would show up in this blog sooner rather than later. I discovered Sexton’s poetry in the same high school American Literature class that I stumbled across Plath’s Daddy and Lady Lazarus. At the time, I was probably more impressed by Sexton’s connection to Plath than by the poetry itself (Plath really floored me), but the more that I read and researched Sexton, the more my love of her work grew.
Her writing is raw, emotional, and will sometimes leave you a little uncomfortable. Other times, you’re just left sitting there, staring at the words, emotionally gasping over the experience, because she understands…
I would like to share my favorite Anne Sexton poem. I leave you to guess which of the above reactions it evoked from me when I first read it a few years ago.
LESSONS IN HUNGER
“Do you like me?”
I asked the blazer.
Silence bounced out of his books.
Silence fell off his tongue
and sat between us
and clogged my throat.
It slaughtered my trust.
It tore cigarettes out of my mouth.
We exchanged blind words,
and I did not cry,
and I did not beg,
but blackness filled my ears,
blackness lunged in my heart,
and something that had been good,
a sort of kindly oxygen,
turned into a gas oven.
Do you like me?
What’s a question like that?
What’s a silence like that?
And what am I hanging around for,
riddled with what his silence said?
August 7, 1974
Photo Source: http://www.glastonberrygrove.net/reference/annesexton/