Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Art of ConfessionThe Performance of Self from Robert Lowell to Reality TV$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Christopher Grobe

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479829170

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479829170.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

The Breath of a Poem

The Breath of a Poem

Confessional Print/Performance circa 1959

(p.45) 1 The Breath of a Poem
Art of Confession

Christopher Grobe

NYU Press

Today, we may know confessional poetry as a set of texts that are printed in books, but in its time it was also a performance genre. This chapter demonstrates how the performance of poems—in the privacy of the poet’s study, at public poetry readings, and in the studios of recorded literature companies—shaped this genre, determined its tactics, and influenced its style. An extended comparison of Robert Lowell and Allen Ginsberg shows that breath was a key medium for confessional poets, and a study of Anne Sexton’s career—both on the page and at the podium—shows how she “breathed back” dead poems in live performance. Throughout, this chapter focuses on the feelings of embarrassment confessional poetry raised, and the uses to which poets could put such feelings. It also highlights contemporary trends in “performance” and their impact on confessional poets—e.g., Anne Sexton’s debt to the acting theories of Konstantin Stanislavsky and to Method acting as theorized by American director Lee Strasberg.

Keywords:   confessional poetry, poetry readings, recorded literature, embarrassment, Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, Allen Ginsberg, Konstantin Stanislavsky, Method acting

NYU Press Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.