Confessional and Post-confessional Poetry

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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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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Citation: Martiny, Erik. "Confessional and Post-confessional Poetry". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 15 October 2012 [, accessed 31 March 2023.]

19331 Confessional and Post-confessional Poetry 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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