Winner of the Pulitzer Prize: A gripping poetry collection mapping the thorny journey from madness to hope
With her emotionally raw and deeply resonant third collection, Live or Die, Anne Sexton confirmed her place among the most celebrated poets of the twentieth century. Sexton described the volume, which depicts a fictionalized version of her struggle with mental illness, as “a fever chart for a bad case of melancholy.” From the halls of a psychiatric hospital—“the scene of the disordered scenes” in “Flee on Your Donkey”—to a child’s playroom—“a graveyard full of dolls” in “Those Times . . .”—these gripping poems offer profound insight on the agony of depression and the staggering acts of courage and faith required to emerge from its depths.
Along with other confessional poets like Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell, Sexton was known for grappling with intimate subjects traditionally considered taboo for poetry such as motherhood, menstruation, and drug dependence. Live or Die features these topics in candid and unflinching detail, as Sexton represents the full experience of being alive—and a woman—as few poets have before. Through bold images and startlingly precise language, Sexton explores the broad spectrum of human emotion ranging from desperate despair to unfettered hope.