Article published in:Rethinking Narrative Identity: Persona and Perspective
Edited by Claudia Holler and Martin Klepper
[Studies in Narrative 17] 2013
► pp. 187–202
Chapter 10. Confessional poetry
A poetic perspective on narrative identity
This paper addresses identity construction in confessional poetry and explores three poems by Anne Sexton in closer detail. It shows that identity in lyrical texts can be discussed more poignantly by using the concept of narrative identity. A close reading of the three poems reveals three different self-concepts, the possibility of multiple selves, and the notion of permanent self-actualization through narrative. Furthermore, this paper suggests that narrative identity theory concentrates too much on conventional narratological frames such as narrative coherence. The reading of lyric poetry extends the narratological settings especially with respect to time. Therefore, this paper suggests that analyzing narrative identity in literary texts contributes to our general understanding of narrative identity. In addition, it draws attention to the connection between identity and emotion. It shows that lyric poetry evokes emotions not only through narrative, but also with the help of non-narrative devices. As a result, the paper demonstrates that emotions influence the identity-process and challenge a purely rational understanding of narrative identity.
Published online: 28 February 2013