Truth Claims In Confessional Poetry
An Excavation into Spiritual Truth
With the publication of Robert Lowell’s “ Life Studies” written for the “ Nation” in 1959 the history of poetic outlets took a swerve and marked as an intense breakthrough (as Plath stated in an interview) against the established, academic, classical channel of poetic tradition of Pound and Eliot and shifted “ towards the personal mode; from the impersonal mode there came a shift towards the personal mode; from the outer wasteland to the wasteland within” in post war America. It was M.L.Rosenthal who first used the term “confessional” while reviewing Lowell’s “ Life Studies” entitled “Poetry as Confession” labelling this autobiographical body of writing as direct, therapeutic and unflinchingly truthful making a sharp departure from the earlier classical stance of complex symbolism and formal language which later came into surface for dealing sensitive and taboo topics such as personal trauma, domestic violence, strained marital relationships coupled with pregnancy and abortion. With an intense probing into the inner self of the highly sensitive persona that found its concretization in the words of Robert Lowell, Theodore Roethke, Anne Sexton, W.D.Snodgrass and Sylvia Plath, this confessional poetry emerged as a breakthrough from the shackles of earlier tradition.
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