American Confessional Poetry

3572 Words15 Pages
American Contemporary Poetry Sierra Lewis ENG 4431 Dr. Guth 2 December 2014 American Confessional Poetry In his 1959 essay “Poetry as Confession,” American poet M. L. Rosenthal coined the term “confessional” to describe this certain personal style of poetry after reading Robert Lowell’s collection of poems, Life Studies. Confessional poetry officially emerged in the 1950’s and is still a popular writing style today, though this particular movement is most often associated with the 1950’s and 1960’s; contemporary writers like Sharon Olds and Marie Howe are examples of modern poets who could be considered to be confessionalists. American Confessional poetry should be included in an anthology of contemporary poetry, because these poets, particularly well-known writers like Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, and Anne Sexton, had an immense impact on mid-twentieth century American writings and created a movement that influenced many later writers and poets. Confessional poems are autobiographical, and they are almost always written in the first person. Some poems, however, are not obviously confessional, like John Berryman’s “Dream Song 29,” which is written in the third person and, on the surface, seems to be about someone named Henry. John Berryman’s “Dream Song 29” There sat down, once, a thing on Henry’s heart só heavy, if he had a hundred years & more, & weeping, sleepless, in all them time Henry could not make good. Starts again always in Henry’s ears the little cough somewhere, an odour, a chime. And there is another thing he has in mind like a grave Sienese face a thousand years would fail to blur the still profiled reproach of. Ghastly, with open eyes, he attends, blind. All the bells say: too late. This is not for tears; thinking. But never did Henry, as he thought
Open Document