Lovely Bones: Celebrating Anne Sexton at the Cornelia Street Café

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The poet Anne Sexton took her own life in 1974, but had she lived, this year would have marked her 83rd birthday. Reason enough, thought the actor Paul Hecht, to organize an elegant tribute to her at the Cornelia Street Café on Nov. 14.

Two strong women — Kathleen Chalfant and Jennifer Van Dyck — took turns mapping Sexton’s somewhat fragile life through the ley lines of her verse. Even without knowing how it ended, it was possible to glimpse a conflicted mind through the shifting surfaces of her words. 

Pianist Liz Magnes provided deft transitions between sections of the program, which followed a loose arc from childhood to maturity. Cornelia Street Café co-owner and host Robin Hirsch provided the introduction.

Bon Mots:

Verses from "Rowing":

Then there was life
with its cruel houses
and people who seldom touched —
though touch is all —

Verse from "A Story for Rose":

Someday, I promised her, I'll be someone going somewhere.

Verses from "The Ambition Bird":

The business of words keeps me awake.
I am drinking cocoa,
that warm brown mama.

Verses from "The Black Art":

A woman who writes feels too much,
those trances and portents!
As if cycles and children and islands
weren't enough; as if mourners and gossips
and vegetables were never enough.

Use the player above to hear selections from the program.


Kathleen Chalfant and Jennifer VanDyck

Produced by:

Sarah Montague


More in:

News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.


About Talk to Me

Talk to Me brings you downloadable readings and conversations with writers, artists, and scholars – from author Joshua Ferris to choreographer Mark Morris to poet Sharon Olds – recorded at cultural institutions in New York City and beyond. Stream, download, or subscribe to the full-length podcasts here.


Supported by