Anne Sexton: Teacher of Weird Abundance (S U N Y Series, by Paula M. Salvio

By Paula M. Salvio

The poet's existence as a instructor.

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I felt that she was working hard to get through the class. ” When I asked Leverich what price he exacted as a student in her class, he told me that “Anne Sexton’s teaching triggered for me a deep channel of emotion and areas of thought which were oftentimes frightening, so much so that I would push them aside. ” The exchanges among Anne Sexton, her students, and the personae in her poetry arguably offer a fresh representation of how the performative, “as if ” position can be used to give shape to what students find difficult to articulate.

Parody need not be comic. Derived from the Greek parodia, parody is a countersong, a neighboring song (Crapanzo, 1990, 144). Like melancholia, parody is structured in ambivalence, for it too has the paradoxical capacity both to incorporate and challenge that which it criticizes. There is a paradox inherent in the incorporative tactics of Sexton’s composing processes: She simultaneously incorporates loss or lack in her body and disincorporates the authority of the master by wearing her wounds, or, to paraphrase Franz Fanon (1952), on the surface of her skin like an open sore—an eyesore to the colonizer.

Maxine 22 ANNE SEXTON Kumin remembers Anne Sexton in her early years as a poet, working strictly with traditional forms, “believing,” writes Kumin, “in the value of their rigor as a forcing agent, believing that the hardest truth would come to light if they were made to fit a stanzaic pattern, a rhyme scheme, a prevailing meter” (1981, xxv). Sexton often spoke of writing poetry as an act of psychoanalysis that created coherence out of the disjunctive, fragmented experiences that came to take possession of her.

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