“Readers of Sexton’s poetry have been waiting more than twenty years for a collection of essays like this.”–Dawn M. Skorczewski, author of An Accident of Hope: The Therapy Tapes of Anne Sexton

“An important collection of new critical views. Draws from a range of critics, as well as poets, to assess why Sexton’s work remains viable, forceful, and beloved.”–Linda Wagner-Martin, author of A History of American Literature: 1950 to the Present

One of America’s most influential women writers, Anne Sexton has long been overshadowed by fellow confessional poets Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell and is seldom featured in literary criticism. This Business of Words, edited by Amanda Golden, reassesses Sexton and her poetry for the first time in two decades and offers directions for future Sexton scholarship.

With new access to her archives, the scholars and poets featured here consider Sexton’s industry and her wide range of production. Five literary critics interpret her poetry in relation to photography, performance, poetry readings, the role of institutions, and midcentury culture. Five poets illuminate Sexton’s poetic subjects, her responses to her contemporaries, and her legacy. Notable in presenting Sexton the educator and public figure, the contributors to This Business of Words reveal Sexton’s efforts to build a successful career without a university education, consider her relationships with peers and various media, and interpret her strategies for teaching, critiquing poems, and delivering readings.

As its critical and creative perspectives intersect, this volume inspires new questions about Sexton’s poems and how to interpret them. It maps the influence of Sexton’s craft on twenty-first-century cultural contexts and emphasizes her continuing vitality.

Amanda Golden is assistant professor of English at New York Institute of Technology.

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