CHENNAI: Confessional poetry, a style of poetry materialised in the United States in the early 1950s and 60s is a very personal form of poetry. The poet writes about their most vulnerable self, personal experiences, trauma, sexual abuse, mental abuse, and things that are usually considered taboo by society.
This form of poetry is often very hard-hitting for readers but is the most beautiful form of penning down pain and discomfort. Check out this list of poets who are known to be confessional poets in literature:
There is no confessional poetry without the mention of Sylvia Plath who is often tied to and associated with this form of writing. Sylvia, who began writing at the age of eight, had a tough early life that was woven with dark episodes of death and trauma. Most of her family members were diagnosed with clinical depression and she had begun harming herself at the age of nineteen. Her broken relationship with her mother and marriage eventually led her to kill herself. While her career was short-lived, Sylvia contributed some of the best pieces of prose and poetry to literature. Her well-known poems, Daddy and Medusa, both written about her father and mother show her psyche and mental turmoil. Some of her other notable works are The Bell Jar and Ariel.
Kamala Das’s bold writing laced with the tinge of pain and discomfort is often compared to the works of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. Her work offers the readers a peek into her life, offering some consolation through words. Her poem, The Old Playhouse is one of the most straightforward and spine-chilling in sense of narration. The poem which talks about marital rape is very visual in terms of style and definitely makes you uncomfortable in your seat. But this is what is unique about Kamala’s writing. The arrogance of the husband and the helplessness of the wife are evident through words. Some of her other notable works are The Looking Glass and Substitute.
In spite of Robert Lowell’s book Life Studies being referred to as confessional poetry first, Sylvia’s knack for this style of writing gained her more popularity to it than Lowell. Lowell’s usage of ‘I’ in his work made it easier for the readers to sympathise and feel for the character in his works. His poem Waking in the Blue paints a realistic and gloomy picture of a mental institution and how it is living in it. The poem was intrinsic for Lowell in the sense that he wrote his experience after being admitted to a mental institution in 1954 after having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. His works are raw and realistic without fancy usage of literary devices. Some of his other notable works are Home After Three Months Away and For The Union Dead.
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