Evie Kytan December 9, 2008 Honors English – G Poet Biography

Evie Kytan
December 9, 2008
Honors English – G
Poet Biography
Anne Harvey Sexton was an American poet born on November 9, 1928 in Newton,
Massachusetts. At an early age she began attending Rogers Hall Boarding School in Lowell,
Massachusetts. It was there that she first began writing poetry but never really believed in her
capabilities. Simultaneously, Anne also began modeling for Boston’s Hart Agency. In 1948,
while being engaged to someone else, Anne eloped with her lover and Colgate University
student, Alfred Sexton. Anne and Alfred had two children together, Linda and Joyce.
Throughout her life, Anne suffered from an intricate mental illness and was diagnosed
with bipolar disorder in 1955 by her therapist, Dr. Martin Orne. By 1956, Anne’s mental
condition had worsened and led to her first psychiatric hospitalization followed by multiple
suicide attempts in the preceding years. Sexton often believed that her only purpose in life was
for prostitution. However, Dr. Orne noticed her creative side and encouraged her to take up
poetry. Although she was uneasy about the whole idea, her poems were quickly accepted by
numerous well acclaimed magazines including The New Yorker and Harper’s Magazine.
Throughout her long career in poetry, Sexton came across many other poets with whom she
became good friends. Poets such as W.D. Snodgrass and Maxine Kumin inspired Sexton to
write some of her best works. Many of her works were and still are extremely controversial.
Sexton was known as a confessional poet, touching on subjects ranging from menstruation,
abortion and adultery. Her lists of awards is quite lengthy and includes such awards as the 1963
National Book Award for All My Pretty Ones, a Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her 1967 work, Live
or Die, as well as a Guggenheim Foundation grant in 1969. Sexton was also a well known
professor at Boston University, Oberlin College and Colgate University.
Although Sexton was still writing by the 1970’s, her bipolar disorder began very much
affecting her career as a poet as well as her personal life. After another suicide attempt and three
psychiatric hospitalizations, Anne and Alfred divorced in 1973. After years of battling
depression and bipolar disorder, on October 4, 1974, Sexton trapped herself in her garage with
the car running and committed suicide through the means of carbon monoxide poisoning. She is
now buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston, Massachusetts.
“Anne Sexton Biography.” Famous Poets and Poems. 9 December 2008
“Anne Sexton.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 9 December 2008