Madonna read Sexton, says Lucy O’Brien in her new Madonna: Like an Icon:
In her teenage years Madonna read Anne Sexton, and discussed with her sisters how much the Pultizer Prize-winning poet looked like Madonna Sr.
[Yes, Madonna was named after her mother. The elder Madonna died of cancer when her daughter was five.]
[Sexton’s] work was highly personal, often autobiographical, and laced at times with gallows humor. Sexton committed suicide in 1974, after publishing eight collections of poetry that combined beat style with high-art Romanticism and a graphic sense of the emerging feminism.
[Madonna was born in 1958 so was 16 when Sexton died.]
[Sexton’s] economy of language and unflinching look at death in poems such as “Madonna,” which was about the death of Sexton’s mother from cancer, would surface later as an influence ... But in the early 1970s, to a teenage girl missing her mother and looking for answers, Sexton’s poetry just offered a strange kind of solace.