A Small Handful

anne-sexton (1).jpg
anne-sexton (1).jpg

A Small Handful


solo female voice

  • Premiere: 16 May 2003 / Elebash Recital Hall, NYC - Friends and Enemies of Contemporary Music / Gilda Lyons, voice

  • Instrumentation: solo female voice

  • Duration: 12'

  • Text: Anne Sexton




While Anne Sexton's troubled existence was littered with depression and suicide attempts, she remained committed to turning the detritus of her life into poetry.   Maxine Kumin, a close friend and trusted colleague of Sexton's, wrote "I am convinced that poetry kept Anne alive for the eighteen years of her creative endeavors.  When everything else soured... the making of poems remained her one constant."

The three poems that I have chosen to set for unaccompanied voice span the length of these creative endeavors: from "Music Swims Back To Me" found in her first publication To Bedlam and Part Way Back (1960); to Seven Times from the cycle "The Death Baby" found in her 1974 publication The Death Notebooks; and, finally, to "Where It Was At Back Then" from 45 Mercy Street (1976), Sexton's first posthumous publication.