I only took a few books with me to Operation Desert Shield/Storm. Anne Sexton’s “The Complete Poems” was one of the few I included to read. It was dog-eared, highlighted and underlined throughout. Back then, it was always in my car when I went on a trip or just to the park to read. Eventually, an ex-girlfriend absconded off with it. (boo, hiss!!)
While I did replace that copy, it wasn’t the same. I still read it. I still love it. It is just – different. I didn’t re-do the highlights and underlines. I guess I didn’t need to replicate that experience. I keep a copy on my Nook and phone and a hard copy on my shelf. Of course, my digital copy of “The Voice of the Poet: Anne Sexton” and “Anne Sexton Reads” also bring her work to life – in her own voice.
A year ago, I released a book of poetry that I’d been hanging onto for a long time. I am working on a second book of poetry for release in the fall. No, I don’t expect to retire off of poetry sales. Poetry does not pay the bills. It simply exists for its own sake. I will probably give the new book away for a while before even putting it up for sale.
Sexton was a huge influence on me as a writer and she is someone I go back to over and over again. Recently, while working on a few books that will be out this year (some authored, some edited), I’ve felt the need to return to some things that are familiar and easy. I’ve been working 80 hours a week on two full-time jobs. I’m tired a lot. I’m behind on projects. I’ve repeatedly had to put things off – and as a consequence – I sometimes feel like I’m failing myself. I need a reset and a return to the start. Sexton was a complicated, troubled, abused and tragic figure. She was also talented, beautiful and fucking brilliant.
I will start there again.