In this 1967 postcard from our archive, Anne Sexton replies to Betty Kray, the first executive director of the Academy of American Poets, regarding a recent reading she had done for the organization.

This postcard was written just months after Sexton received the Pulitzer Prize for her third collection, Live or Die (Houghton Mifflin, 1966). Despite her success and the confidence it inspired in her, she still maintained a level of discomfort with doing public performances—something apparent in her insecure and modest account of the reading in the postcard.

Here Sexton also recalls for Kray something she presumably said during the reading: “I believe the theme of the death of parents and thus the inherited life is everyone’s great theme.” This quote certainly rang true for Sexton, who had a complicated relationship with her own parents.

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