Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Anne Sexton Lives!



I used to read Anne Sexton poems all the damn time when I was working my way through college.  At work on break, between classes, in the library instead of studying 18th century European history.  Anne Sexton was a kick in the ass, mouthy and truthful and glamorous, but not as uptight as Sylvia or Adrienne.  She was a reason to write.  Very urgent, Anne was, and sneaky, and kind of gossipy and sloppy, but also her poems felt finished and vital.  She got into my head and I loved her for it.  Her poems have a confessional flirtatiousness, but also are sort of randy and wild-assed and voluptuously silly.  "Imagine it," she writes in Music Swims Back to Me, "a radio playing and everyone here is crazy."  Her poetic voice and product were high-art and low-art blossoming into a new art.  I loved her because she was the proto-Courtney-Love, the weird loud bitch at a party that somehow gets crystallized and elevated into a grandeur beyond parties and bitchiness.  I feel the same way about Rufus Wainwright.  He is the neo-Anne-Sexton.  And his new album, produced by Mark Ronson, is a gem, crazy and tight, full of confessions and yet smart enough to get the joke.  I keep going back to a song on Out of the Game called "Rashida," in which Rufus laments about being uninvited to a big party and yet thankful he was not invited because he was able to write a song because of it.  Like Anne Sexton's poetry, his songs somehow create a space where both gratitude and arrogance roam free.  This is a collection of songs that make you want to be able to sing.  Catchy but deep, sad but ecstatic.  Knowing. 

It's the music Anne Sexton's radio was playing in the crazy place.