Confessional and Post-confessional Poetry

(3019 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Confessionalism is a term used to describe mainstream American poetry of the 1950s and 60s. Like many cultural trends, it sprang into being as a reaction to the perceived stuffiness and excessive formalism of the academic poetry of the 1940s and 50s. Early examples of confessional poetry include W. D. Snodgrass’s Heart’s Needle (1959) and Robert Lowell’s Life Studies (1959). Although Allen Ginsberg’s Howl (1956) is not often categorized as belonging to the confessional aesthetic, it contains many of the hallmarks of what critic Al Alvarez called Extremist poetry: a propensity to violate the norms of decorum, an inscription of the intensely personal, an openness to experience, and an expression of acute …

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Martiny, Erik. "Confessional and Post-confessional Poetry". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 15 October 2012
[, accessed 01 October 2016.]