literature mental health

Anne Sexton

This weeks Illustrated Woman in History was illustrated and written by @ladieswhodraw. It is featured in the second issue of the Illustrated Women in History zine which you can order here.


“A handful of truly exceptional writers helped give birth to the genre of confessional poetry, but to me, this genre’s true mother is Anne Sexton.

Born November 9, 1928 in Newton, Massachusetts, Anne battled countless demons throughout her short but extraordinary life, many of which served as grave muses for her body of work. Depression, menstruation, abortion, suicide — highly taboo topics at the time — are woven throughout Anne’s arresting verse. Honesty burned so brilliantly within her. People everywhere were dealing with these harrowing issues. She helped give them a voice when few others would. Anne channeled her mental illness into words with such grace and severity, and because of this, she is treasured as one of the most beloved poets of all time. But tragically, she was not able to overcome the demons within her.

On October 4, 1974, at age 45, Anne committed suicide. Earlier that day, she met with a fellow poet to discuss The Awful Rowing Toward God, her latest manuscript. These would be her final poems. She wrote these pieces fulling intending for them not to be published until after her death. Only Anne knew just when that would be.”

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