This book traces the historical and cultural concept of “confession” as a self-reflective and self-creative act in modern and postmodern poetry, particularly in the poetic movement known as “confessionalism” which emerged in America at the end of the 1950s. The twentieth century offered poetry the means of posing certain questions and expressing certain desires in a new and unfamiliar, even shocking manner, bringing the personal and intimate to the foreground, both scandalizing and delighting an audience starved for a depiction of the “real” modern world.
Such transformations in language and content meant new voices and new “selves”. Women poets who used a confessional mode were, for the first time, speaking about taboo topics, showcasing the underlying tensions between the public and the private, the lyrical and the political, the female self and patriarchal authority. In the following book, four representative poets of the movement, Lucille Clifton, Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, and Sharon Olds are given their due and analysed according to their “confessions”, as they shared various truths and untruths about the female body, disease and mental illness, sexuality and family life, giving voice to subjects and issues that still concern the twenty-first century and contemporary American poetry.