Existentialism and Homosexuality in Thom Gunn's Poetry Essay

Existentialism and Homosexuality in Thom Gunn's Poetry Essay

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Thom Gunn began to love writing from an early age. He grew up in England, where homosexuality was uncommon and being gay made Gunn feel as if he were an outsider. After moving to California, Gunn found a sense of community and happiness, until the AIDS epidemic struck. Thom Gunn’s life consisted of moments of liberation mixed with moments of sadness. His experiences are reflected through his poems. Thom Gunn, a notable San Francisco resident who enjoyed drugs, cooking, gardening, and cats, did not hesitate to write down what he was thinking in his poems. His works are notorious for their homosexual theme. Gunn was an advocate of freedom and equality, which later lead him to his openly homosexual poetry and the theory of communal love. He describes many situations in his poems as “times of joy.” In these periods, the imagination could range freely, allowing him to express himself.
Born Thomson William Gunn, this Anglo-American poet seemed to have a love of writing from an early point on, using his thoughts on life to give him a common theme of love. On August 29, 1929, Gunn was born in Gravesend, Kent, England to father Bert Gunn (Poetry Foundation). He was the older son of two journalists who divorced when the poet was only ten years old. His mother tragically committed suicide during Gunn’s teenage years; however, before her death, his mother had inspired a deep love of reading and writing in young Thom, including the writings of Marlowe, Keats, Milton, and Tennyson, as well as several prose writers (Poets.org). Gunn also began to experience the first signs of his homosexuality during this period, but was confused about whether it was stress from the divorce and loss of a parent, or if it was something else that would later ...

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...sexuality in Gunn’s Early Poetry." The Ken yon Review. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2013.
Gunn, Thom. Collected Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994. Print.
Guthmann, Edward. "A POET'S LIFE / PART TWO: As Friends Died of AIDS, Thom
Gunn Stayed Healthy -- until His Need to Play Hard Finally Killed Him."
SFGate. N.p., 26 Apr. 2005. Web. 19 Apr. 2013.
Sleigh, Tom. “Sex, Drugs, and Thom Gunn.” Poetry Magazine. N.p., 10 June 2009.
Web. 19 Apr. 2013.
"Thom Gunn." - Poets.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2013.
"Thom Gunn." : The Poetry Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2013.

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