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Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters
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Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters

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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  1,030 ratings  ·  22 reviews
An expression of an extraordinary poet's life story in her own words, this book shows Anne Sexton as she really was in private, as she wrote about herself to family, friends, fellow poets, and students. Anne's daughter Linda Gray Sexton and her close confidant Lois Ames have judiciously chosen from among thousands of letters and provided commentary where necessary. Illustr ...more
Paperback, 433 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 1977)
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Ilze
Jul 04, 2008 Ilze added it
It's difficult to give this book a rating because I couldn't finish reading it!! I tried my utmost and even passed the halfway mark, but her words and her emotions stayed with me and drained me.

In some of the letters you really get to know her as a happy person. Her relationship with the monk, for example, can only be said to have been a good one. But all her letters have a desperation about them that you just want to meet her in person and tell her that all will be fine. Take her time in Europ
...more
Molly
I had a severe love/hate relationship with this book. I was determined to get through it, but prolonged attempts at reading it would usually result in my throwing the book across the room. Sexton is a tremendous poet, but this collection of her letters brought her lesser qualities into plain view. Normally that's one of the things I appreciate about letter/journal collections, but in this case it worked against my opinion of her.
tee
I had this sitting on four stars because I just didn't feel as if I loved it but when reading it, I couldn't put it down. I so rarely find that in books these days; I always feel as if I am forcing myself to plod through them. So really, I'd rate this 4.5. I think maybe I expected a little bit more, I thought her letters might've been more interesting? I don't know what it was, maybe I was anticipating more diary-like revelations but she was quite restrained, particularly towards the end. I mean ...more
Anna Maria Ballester Bohn
I want to give this at least four stars, because it was a fascinating read, but the fact that it's edited and put together by her daughter makes me feel somewhat dubious. It's not a rose-colored portrait, but it's the portrait of a daughter. Totally recommended reading though for anyone who likes auto-biographies or Anne Sexton or both.
Melissa
This is an interesting read, but if you are anything like me, you have to take a break from it every now and then or you will feel like you are going a little bit crazy yourself. It is a very intense trip throught the mind of a brilliant albeit very mental unstable woman.
Jen Selinsky
I first heard about Anne Sexton in one of my American literature classes in college, when we studied some of her works. Even though I was interested in a few of her poems at the time, I was quick to put her (and her writing) out of my mind. It wasn't until a few years later that I rediscovered Anne at the library where I work. I happened to see a book called "Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters" on the sale shelf. Curious, I flipped through some of the pages and started reading fragments of ...more
Susan Katz
I'm not sure I'd have wanted to know Anne Sexton personally, but it was wonderful to get this personal glimpse of her private self as presented to friends, family, and colleagues. Charm and craziness co-exist here, as well as intelligence and a passion for her art.
Angela Wade
Really, really tough to rate this kind of book. I mean, it's someone's personal letters. I do appreciate that someone saw fit to publish them - they're insightful and help flesh out the woman/human behind the poems.
Sara
Apr 22, 2013 Sara added it
I read most of the book, but can't bring myself to rate it. I had no previous knowledge of Anne Sexton's work, and must admit that I don't have the "poetry gene". I appreciate poetic language in the form of a well stated idea, I enjoy many song lyrics, but there is something about poetry that I just don't get. Anne Sexton got it, and her letters reveal a woman who rabidly pursued her art and actively sought to better her words in poetry. I deeply admire that quality in anyone, and fervently wish ...more
kate
I started this book a while ago and find myself picking it up from time to time. it's more revealing than I expected. her letters are manic, self absorbed - ups and downs of mood.

As I recall, Plath's letters were sterile, writing about the craft as if it were a self-negating chore of achievement. Nin wrote about living, loving, sex - how to become a writer by embracing life and Paris.

I'm having difficulty getting into the Sexton book because of her focus on herself and the way her mental state i
...more
Natalie Laureano
Jun 20, 2014 Natalie Laureano marked it as to-read
Can't wait to read this, I've been told my writing is like hers.
treva
A collection of letters written by Anne Sexton, edited and annotated by her eldest daughter, Linda, and her closest living friend, the poet Maxine Kumin, illustrated with several photographs. While Sexton's poems are often tangled and mysteriously symbolic, her letters are often exuberant, unabashedly unfiltered, unedited, and wildly passionate. She tends toward words in all capitals, long strings of exclamation points and question marks, and ellipses. A refreshingly honest, often funny, and ver ...more
Adam Di Filippi
RATS LIVE ON NO EVIL STAR
Anarda Nashai
What can I say, I fell in love with Sexton's work at sixteen. As a young poet, she was one of the first to inspire me...with her unruly and unapologetic style. With her poetry, she left the door open to her soul, which I thought was very brave and "awe-striking". She is the queen of confessionalism...and this book of her letters tells her story better than any autobiography ever has...in my opinion. A must-read for Sexton fans!
Laura
Anne Sexton was a crazy, brilliant, brash poet. She was also a suburban Boston housewife. I loved how she accepted the conventional (in some measure) in her home life and still created a type of poetry that hadn't existed before. Even more remarkable, she did this almost entirely on her own--without a college degree or much of a writing community of any kind. She just started writing in her kitchen in her spare time.
Terri
This is the edition I own. The edition I first read was a beautiful library hardcover. I think I'd like a copy like that as well. I love this book in much the same way as I love her poems.
Skyelis Tyler
gee. scary how much sense her madness makes to me. comforting, at the same time. one thing about her, though: this woman's a fucking machine of a writer! - and so tenderly humble.
Ruby
The last hundred pages or so are terrible to read - it's this rapid, weird spiral downwards that is unstoppable. It's sad.
Adrianna
I found this book at Rhino Records, used, for $4.99. I was so thrilled and it's at my bedside, waiting to be finished.
Magda
I am wary of Linda Gray. Frieda Hughes is the eminently more trustable of the confessional-poet babies.
Lisa
Feb 21, 2012 Lisa added it
Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters by Anne Sexton (2004)
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Anne Sexton once told a journalist that her fans thought she got better, but actually, she just became a poet. These words are characteristic of a talented poet that received therapy for years, but committed suicide in spite of this. The poetry fed her art, but it also imprisoned her in a way.

Her parents didn’t expect much of her academically, and after completing her schooling at Rogers Hall, sh
...more
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“Anne, I don't want to live. . . . Now listen, life is lovely, but I Can't Live It. I can't even explain. I know how silly it sounds . . . but if you knew how it Felt. To be alive, yes, alive, but not be able to live it. Ay that's the rub. I am like a stone that lives . . . locked outside of all that's real. . . . Anne, do you know of such things, can you hear???? I wish, or think I wish, that I were dying of something for then I could be brave, but to be not dying, and yet . . . and yet to [be] behind a wall, watching everyone fit in where I can't, to talk behind a gray foggy wall, to live but to not reach or to reach wrong . . . to do it all wrong . . . believe me, (can you?) . . . what's wrong. I want to belong. I'm like a jew who ends up in the wrong country. I'm not a part. I'm not a member. I'm frozen.” 381 likes
“I am a collection of dismantled almosts.” 138 likes
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