Poets in the Asylum: The Poets of McLean Hospital
*****This panel will present during the Mass. Poetry Festival May May 2 to 4, 2014
This panel will discuss three noted McLean Hospital associated poets: Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath. All three of these Confessional poets were psychiatric patients at one time at McLean. Lowell wrote his canonical poem "Waking in the Blue," about his experiences at McLean on Bowditch Hall. Sexton led poetry groups there and was once hospitalized briefly at McLean; Plath was hospitalized at the hospital and her novel The Bell Jar was based on her experiences during her tenure there.
McLean Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Belmont, Mass. has been declared a national literary landmark, because of the many creative geniuses afflicted by mental illness that have been treated on its wards. The panel will discuss each of these poets, ((Lowell, Plath and Sexton) their experiences as patients, how their experience is reflected in their work, and how and what they managed to create with such a heavy burden of psychiatric illness.
Panel members will include Lois Ames author of the biographical note to The Bell Jar and Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters, Kathleen Spivack author of With Robert Lowell and His Circle... and Bob Clawson--confidante to Sexton and manager of her folk/rock band Anne Sexton and Her Kind.
The moderator will be Doug Holder, a poet, counselor and, author of the poetry collection: From the Back Bay to the Back Ward... Poems of Boston and Just Beyond and poetry group leader at McLean Hospital since 1982.