American poetry is characterized by a sense of personal freedom, allowing individuals to express themselves without limitations. It encompasses various subjects that American poets choose to explore, often focusing on their own societal issues. The poetic structures employed by American poets involve personal disclosures and profound observations. Together, they have contributed to our perception of postmodern literature. Billy Collins, hailing from New York, crafted poetry centered around everyday experiences. Meanwhile, Anne Sexton, born in Massachusetts, delved into poems reflecting her personal challenges.
These two contemporary American poets share similarities in their approach to depicting everyday difficulties and occurrences. Both Billy Collins and Anne Sexton adopt personal and dramatic styles in their poetry. Collins, for instance, delves into his inner experiences by expressing intense emotions towards mundane aspects of his life. In his poem “Forgetfulness,” he employs a free verse expression to portray a common phenomenon- memory loss. The gradual decline of memory depicted in the poem symbolizes the inevitable loss of memory as one ages.
Not all poems have to conclude with a transformative realization. This particular poem by Collins offers a clever contemplation on the subject of human memory loss, making it a valuable addition to contemporary poetry. In contrast, Anne Sexton’s style is characterized as autobiographical, focusing on her intense personal emotions, particularly anguish. One instance of this is evident in the poem “Wanting to Die,” which expresses her desire for suicide. Likewise, her sorrow is depicted as overwhelming in the poem “Despair.”
Both poets, Collins and Sexton, approach a controversial subject with no hesitation. Although their themes differ, with Collins using humor to convey a serious message and Sexton delving into her psychological battles to reveal hidden aspects of her life, they both explore this contentious topic. Collins prefers to pose questions concerning life and the reasons behind events. In his poem “I Chop Some Parsley While Listening To Art Blakey’s Version of ‘Three Blind Mice'”, he cynically contemplates why the mice are blind. Despite being known for his straightforward and uncomplicated style, Collins interlaces his poems with a sharp sense of humor.
Sexton achieved fame as a confessional poet, with her poetry blurring the line between personal experiences and artistic expression. In works like “The Death Baby,” she fearlessly addressed controversial topics like abortion, menstruation, drug addiction, sex, religion, and suicidal thoughts. Through her poetry, Sexton delved into diverse themes and subjects. Despite their differences, both poets skillfully conveyed their messages through humor or sadness. While Sexton explored darker aspects of life, Collins had a more content and reflective perspective.
In her poem “Today,” Sexton expresses her desire for people to recognize the true beauty of Earth. Despite facing a difficult life characterized by struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, periods of institutionalization, and the loss of loved ones, Sexton found solace in writing poetry. While her work is often confessional and challenging to comprehend, she possessed a talent for expressing her deep and personal emotions. Her poetry addresses universal issues that resonate with both her contemporaries and modern readers.
Post-Modern American Poetry encompassed the personal concerns and ordinary existence of the era. Billy Collins employed a style of free verse to depict everyday activities, showcasing his overall contentment with life. In contrast, Anne Sexton utilized confessionism in her poetry to convey a pessimistic, despairing outlook on life, delving into her anguished battles. Both poets’ contributions to American literature hold immense significance as they skillfully employ vivid imagery in their poems, eloquently capturing the common experiences we encounter on a daily basis.