07 October 2008

Sylvia Plath collections: Woodberry Poetry Room

Sylvia Plath collections: Woodberry Poetry Room

Sylvia Plath gave two readings for the Woodberry Poetry Room ('WPR', or 'Poetry Room') in 1958 and 1959. The Poetry Room has one of the largest collections of recorded poetry in the world. As I work there, I am assisting in a project to digitize the recordings to make them available either to the Harvard community, or the whole world wide web.

In a routine visit to the stacks to select reel-to-reel tapes to digitize, I found the original cardboard box containers for the Plath recordings. Most of the containers feature minimal information, likely in either a curator's hand or the audio technician. However, when I pulled the Plath boxes off the shelf, I was amazed to see that she herself had written the track listings on the back.

The recording for Friday June 13, 1958 is written in a pink ink. It may have been red, but the color appears pink to me. There are two poems per available line. The recording for her February 22, 1959 is written in pencil, and includes a doodle. Each poem is written on the available line, and as Plath read 17 poems, she needed two columns. So, she drew a line dividing the two halves. At the top of this line is the doodle. The doodle is a head & face, and the line appear to be coming out of the doodle heads mouth area, like a tongue.

Along the side of the 1959 recording is "Titles listed by Sylvia Plath". This was written probably by Jack Sweeney, then curator of the room, but could have been by Stephen Fassett, whose recording studio was at 24 Chestnut Street in Beacon Hill, just a one minute walk from 9 Willow Street, where Plath and Hughes lived.

As of this time, the boxes are not catalogued but if you're in the Lamont Library area and want to see them, come on by - though setting an appointment is recommended. Though many libraries at Harvard are closed to the public, the Woodberry Poetry Room (Room 330 in Lamont Library) is open to the public. All one needs to do is present an ID at the entrance.

1 comment :

erzsebet said...

Would that all 'routine visit[s] to the stacks' came with such delightful surprises! That she doodled on the listing is a fun tidbit. I do wonder why she wrote her own track listings, though, when it sounds like that wasn't the norm.

- erzsebet

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Publications & Acknowledgements

  • BBC Four.A Poet's Guide to Britain: Sylvia Plath. London: BBC Four, 2009. (Acknowledged in)
  • Biography: Sylvia Plath. New York: A & E Television Networks, 2005. (Photographs used)
  • Connell, Elaine. Sylvia Plath: Killing the angel in the house. 2d ed. Hebden Bridge: Pennine Pens, 1998. (Acknowledged in)
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives." Plath Profiles 2. Summer 2009: 183-208.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives, Redux." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 232-246.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 3." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 119-138.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 4: Looking for New England." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012: 11-56.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 5: Reanimating the Past." Plath Profiles 6. Summer 2013: 27-62.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. These Ghostly Archives: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath. Oxford: Fonthill, 2017. Forthcoming.
  • Death Be Not Proud: The Graves of Poets. New York: Poets.org. (Photographs used)
  • Doel, Irralie, Lena Friesen and Peter K. Steinberg. "An Unacknowledged Publication by Sylvia Plath." Notes & Queries 56:3. September 2009: 428-430.
  • Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin, Tex. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009. (Photograph used)
  • Helle, Anita Plath. The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. (Photographs used, acknowledged in)
  • Helle, Anita. "Lessons from the Archive: Sylvia Plath and the Politics of Memory". Feminist Studies 31:3. Fall 2005: 631-652.. (Acknowledged in)
  • Holden, Constance. "Sad Poets' Society." Science Magazine. 27 July 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Making Trouble: Three Generations of Funny Jewish Women, Motion Picture. Directed by Rachel Talbot. Brookline (Mass.): Jewish Women's Archive, 2007. (Photograph used)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Karen V. Kukil. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. New York: Anchor Books, 2000. (Acknowledged in)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil (eds.). The Letters of Sylvia Plath. London: Faber, 2017. Forthcoming.
  • Plath, Sylvia. Glassklokken. Oslo: De norske Bokklubbene, 2004. (Photograph used on cover)
  • Reiff, Raychel Haugrud. Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Poems (Writers and Their Works). Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, 2008.. (Images provided)
  • Steinberg, Peter K. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'I Should Be Loving This': Sylvia Plath's 'The Perfect Place' and The Bell Jar." Plath Profiles 1. Summer 2008: 253-262.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "This is a Celebration: A Festschrift for The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3 Supplement. Fall 2010: 3-14.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "A Perfectly Beautiful Time: Sylvia Plath at Camp Helen Storrow." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 149-166.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Proof of Plath." Fine Books & Collections 9:2. Spring 2011: 11-12.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Writing Life" [Introduction]. Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning. Stroud, Eng.: Fonthill Media, 2014.

Interviews