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SYBA Semester IV
English Paper III
American Literature
Mrs. Madhura Date.
Assistant Professor, Gogate Jogalekar College, Ratnagiri.
Confessional Poetry
• Confessional poetry is the poetry of the personal or "I.“
• This style emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s
• Poets associated with the style :
Robert Lowell
Sylvia Plath
Anne Sexton
W. D. Snodgrass.
• The phrase “confessional poetry” was coined by the critic M.L.
Rosenthal
• He in 1959, used it in his review of Robert Lowell’s Life
Studies in the Nation.
• Lowell's book Life Studies was a highly personal account of his
life and familial ties and had a significant impact on American
poetry.
• The personal had always been fodder for poetry, but Lowell,
Rosenthal claimed, “removes the mask” that previous poets
had worn when writing about their own lives. The poems
in Life Studies felt like a “series of personal confidences, rather
shameful, that one is honor-bound not to reveal.”
• Confessional poetry marked a revolution in poetic style as well
as specific subject matter and the relationship between a
poem’s speaker and self.
• Private experiences with and feelings about death, trauma,
depression and relationships were addressed in this type of
poetry, often in an autobiographical manner.
• direct, colloquial speech rhythms
• used images that reflected intense psychological experiences,
that often came from childhood or battles with mental illness
or breakdown.
• This direct style and the subject matters may seem to be
groundbreaking and shocking to some readers.
• However these poets maintained a high level of craftsmanship
through their careful attention to and use of prosody.

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Confessional Poetry

  • 1. SYBA Semester IV English Paper III American Literature Mrs. Madhura Date. Assistant Professor, Gogate Jogalekar College, Ratnagiri.
  • 2. Confessional Poetry • Confessional poetry is the poetry of the personal or "I.“ • This style emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s • Poets associated with the style : Robert Lowell Sylvia Plath Anne Sexton W. D. Snodgrass.
  • 3. • The phrase “confessional poetry” was coined by the critic M.L. Rosenthal • He in 1959, used it in his review of Robert Lowell’s Life Studies in the Nation. • Lowell's book Life Studies was a highly personal account of his life and familial ties and had a significant impact on American poetry.
  • 4. • The personal had always been fodder for poetry, but Lowell, Rosenthal claimed, “removes the mask” that previous poets had worn when writing about their own lives. The poems in Life Studies felt like a “series of personal confidences, rather shameful, that one is honor-bound not to reveal.”
  • 5. • Confessional poetry marked a revolution in poetic style as well as specific subject matter and the relationship between a poem’s speaker and self. • Private experiences with and feelings about death, trauma, depression and relationships were addressed in this type of poetry, often in an autobiographical manner.
  • 6. • direct, colloquial speech rhythms • used images that reflected intense psychological experiences, that often came from childhood or battles with mental illness or breakdown. • This direct style and the subject matters may seem to be groundbreaking and shocking to some readers. • However these poets maintained a high level of craftsmanship through their careful attention to and use of prosody.