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How Does Anne Sexton Present Herself in 'Her Kind' and 'the Black Art'?

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How does Anne Sexton presents herself in ‘The Black Art’ and ‘Her Kind'?

Anne Sexton’s poem ‘The Black Art’ is often seen a metaphor for her poetry, this poem shows how she presents herself to society and how she perceives herself as an individual. This poem is often called highly confessional, however Sexton argues against the label of ‘confessional poet’, it also suggests her own feelings towards the stereotyping of people, and women in particular. ‘As if cycles and children and islands weren’t enough.’, this quote taken from ‘the black art’ demonstrates sextons negative feelings towards the stereotypical woman, the way she uses the phrase ‘weren’t enough’ and ‘never enough’ suggests that for her the normal passage of womanhood, or motherhood were not enough, as if she was constantly seeking something extra in her life, the idea of seeking something more suggests a feeling of isolation that is echo through out this poem and the poem ‘her kind’ contextually it is fitting as in the time Anne sexton wrote this poem very few women would have been working mothers, most would have simply been house wives, content to stay at home and raise children, which would have separated Sexton from society, this teamed with the bi-polar disorder she suffered from would have made her a real anomalie ‘a woman like that is misunderstood’ and added to her own feelings of isolation.
It has been said that sextons ‘bi-polarism’ is hugely reflected within her poetry, at the end of her poem ‘her kind’ she writes ‘a woman like that is not ashamed to die’ this suggest that although the persona, and if we agree that Sextons poetry is confessional, Sexton herself, feels that she has been isolated all her life and forced to find safey in ‘warm caves in the woods’ in which to hide herself for society, she is still proud of all that she has achieved and therefore is ‘not ashamed to die’ and this massively juxtaposes the beginning of the poem where she calls herself a ‘possessed witch’ some on to be mocked and scorned and live forever on the outside of society. However the quote ‘not ashamed to die’ could also refer to sextons many attempts to end her own life.
These two poems, ‘her kind’ and ‘the black art’ show Sexton as something of a feminist, her use of humour ‘such spells and fetiches’ when describing men makes them seem ignorant, and suggest they posess idyllic thoughts and unforfillable thought to sex, and life. Used with the line ‘with used furniture he makes a tree’ men seem verging on idiotic, this line demonstrates how men can take the art of creating something usefull and manipulate it to the extant that it is no longer of any use at all an is mearly some thing to look at, this suggests that this is how sexton feels that men treat women, they take something usefull and try to change them into the perfect sterotype of a wife.

the line ’children leave in disgust’ is suggestive of a broken home, this could be read as anne looking back at her parents seeing there empty live and leaving ‘in disgust’ to seek something better for herself, or perhaps it is sexton herself being afraid that her children will look at her, as a woman that does not fit in, with mental health problems and a bizarre career as something to be disgusted in and therefore leaving. This also reflects the break down Sexton suffered from as a result of motherhood and her fear that her children will be disgusted at her for her inability to cope.
I feel that both of these poems show Anne Sexton to be a confessional poet, certainly her poems seem to reflect aspects of her life that have caused her great difficulty however in her poem ‘the black art’ she practically says that writers lie ‘a writer is essentially a crook’ i believe that every poem of Sextons has elements of the truth, due to the fact that she used writing as an escape from her mental illness, yet we must remember apon reading them she every writer twists the truth or exaggerates to entertain or shock or inform their intended audience.

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