04 April 2009

The Final Four: Sylvia Plath 2009 Poetry Tournament

Well, the final four are set. Thanks to those who voted by comment and by private email - I am so pleased that more people participated. The accompanying conversation to the posts is, I feel, a wonderful step in this blogs development. I hope it continues around other posts.

Round 3 was decisive only in the Ariel Restored region, with "The Rabbit Catcher" amputating "Thalidomide". Each of the other races was decided by one vote each.

From Sylvia Plath Info

So, we have "Poem for a Birthday" vs. "Three Women" and "Balloons" versus "The Rabbit Catcher". Wow. In the former region, we have two seminal poems whose composition spurned the two choices in the latter region. I already know where my votes will fall and will re-read past arguments/justifications again and hope to see some new analyses.


Peter K Steinberg said...

My votes are as follows:

Three Women and Balloons.

While I love "The Rabbit Catcher" - and can't think about the poem without thinking about Plath reading it - there is something in "Balloons" that I find perfect. The poem "delight[s] the heart" with it's tenderness and love.

"Three Women", as Jim mentioned, contains so much Plath - it sums up everything she wrote to that point and foreshadows everything to come.


Sorlil said...

Three Women and Balloons for me also.

Laurie said...

Poem for a Birthday



My argument: Look! How connected these items are! Birthday. Balloons. What is a birthday without balloons? Balloons need a birthday. I'm being silly. Let the numbers decide.
p.s. Can we vote more than once? :)

panther said...

Okay :

Poem for a Birthday


Peter K Steinberg said...

Laurie! No voting twice - though if you vote anonymously I wouldn't necessarily know. Hanging chads don't count; voting is closed in Florida.

Actually it's a good argument, birthday's and balloons and one I'm more apt to understand than anything deeper.

Mind, "Three Women" is also about birthday's (for two of the three).

Anonymous said...

OK, here we go...

Three Women

I feel that "Three Women " is a more solidly consistent and original performance, sustained at a high level throughout. "Poem for a Birthday", while it's so sttrong in some parts, is still an internship in the sense that some parts are very imitative of its influences.


It's my feeling that, while "Rabbit Catcher" is a strong and intensely realized piece, "Balloons" is more 'outer- directed', if I can use that term, and less centered on the self as victim. I want to give Plath credit for, in the darkest days of her life, reaching out to see the world through her children, even if the conclusion is sort of melancholy, inasmuch as it involves the bursting of illusions. The child remains, seeing the world as it is and not through the rose-colored glasses of the balloon.

Having said that...I appreciate this opportunity to go back over the poems, reaffirming once again how varied and extraordinary these poems are. Whatever state of mind Plath was in when she wrote, she held nothing back. She was the Janis Joplin of poets. Even while speaking in images and metaphors, she spoke directly to the reader in ways that anyone can relate to. That's why her work is as widely read as it is. It seems to me that, when Harold Bloom says, by way of being condescending towards her work, that Plath "wrote poetry for people who don't read poetry", that actually amounted to a great compliment. I could hope for nothing less to be said about my own work...that it would appeal to people who are not otherwise attracted to poetry for one reason or another. If one's work can get those people interested in reading poetry, as Plath has...what a great accomplishment that is!
--Jim Long

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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.