One winter day in the late 1940s, it snowed so much that the high school boys and girls going to the snowball cotillion had to ski to the Wellesley Country Club. The boys carried the girls' gowns in boxes, Lois Ames recalled during a tribute this afternoon to the late Anne Sexton.
In one box was a form-fitting red taffeta gown and when Sexton put it on, the boys swarmed around her. "It was my first encounter with a femme fatale,'' said Ames, who became friends with Sexton. Ames and three other poets who knew Sexton offered their reminisces and read her poetry as the wind whipped around the chapel at Forest Hills Cemetery, where Sexton is buried. She was born Nov. 9, 1928 and killed herself on Oct. 4, 1974, the afternoon she finished correcting the galley for her book of poems, "The Awful Rowing To God."
Suzanne E. Berger took Sexton's poetry class for four years. Berger said the Sexton poems that have stayed with her are poems of love, not death. In a similar vein, Victor Howes, who met Sexton in the 1960s when they both belonged to the New England Poetry Club, said she had a sense of humor that even in her darkest hours lightened her poetry. To underscore his point, he read Sexton's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."