Foreword to the book by Alka Nigam
During the first five or six decades of twentieth century , after the publication of THE WASTE LAND in 1922, writing of poetry in English saw unprecedented changes in style and sensibility and diversified in many different channels . It was a part of a larger international revolution that broke the Victorian and academic conventions in the arts. The poetic range widened extraordinarily to accommodate simple verse in traditional forms to new idioms and remarkable techniques both flexible and accomplished to unveil a troubled consciousness. In this world of “ great variety and complexity”, the new poets showed willingness to experience the full range of all the aspects of reality. In their eagerness to touch the ground reality they attained a depth and seriousness till now missing in poetry.
The new poetic scene of sixties demands attention to Robert Lowell as the strongest figure to emerge and the new poetry that came into existence after the publication of his LIFE STUDIES. Confessional poetry as it is known, is a vortex into which the “I” of the Romantics is caught in the act of psychological self probing of D H Lawrence and blends with the realism of Tolstoy or Chekhov. The poets write about their traumatic and chilling experiences of body and mind –maladjustments in life, academic failures, sexual frustrations, shock therapy in mental hospitals, confinements in jails .In the face of modern problems , the subjects picked up are new but the pain is ancient and handled with a technical mastery that gives the poignancy a charm and grace unique to this entirely new direction of poetry. The book CONFESSIONAL POETRY OF ROBERT LOWELL, SYLVIA PLATH AND ANNE SEXTON by Dr. Jyoti Sharma concentrates on the origin and growth of this dynamic mode and discusses both the theory and practice of confessional poetry. It is a revised version of her Doctoral Thesis. The thesis concentrates mainly on Robert Lowell and his poetry. Other confessional poets are grouped together under the umbrella of “Other Confessional Poets”. The present book lays equal emphasis on the works of three major representative poets of this magnetic field –Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath and Ann Sexton. It thus broadens the scope and adds value to the discussion of confessional poetry. The author shows a maturity in her comments that are based on her balanced judgment and relevant information of the subject.
I would like to congratulate Dr. Jyoti Sharma for her efforts in bringing the three giants of confessional poetry together. I am confident that this book will be of immense value to the students of contemporary poetry in English.
Department of English
Banaras Hindu University