07 April 2009

"Three Women" pops "Balloons"

The winnter of the 2009 Sylvia Plath Poetry Tournament is "Three Women". "Balloons" gave its all, but could not rise above "Three Women". Thank you to all who read the poems, voted, and gave wonderful statements about their choices.

From Sylvia Plath Info


angelictenderbutton said...

now we all need to see the play adaptation to celebrate!

Laurie said...

Thanks for putting this contest together. It was fun and educational!

Peter K Steinberg said...

This was a lot of fun - hopefully we can begin discussing more poems, her stories, etc. If you think there'd be an interest in it?

panther said...

I'd definitely enjoy discussing her poems and stories !

BTW, I've just this week booked a little trip for myself over to Yorkshire and to Hebden Bridge (for those who might not know : just down from Heptonstall where Sylvia is buried, and just over from Mytholmroyd, Ted Hughes' birthplace. )I've been before but not recently. It's going to be FANTASTIC ! Such a powerful place.

Anonymous said...

In honor of "Three Women" I want post here the text of a review of the radio play, as performed on the BBC's Radio 3 (formerly the Third Programme, as it was called when it first broadcast the piece in 1962). The review, by Marcella Evaristi, is from the Glasgow herald of Jan. 15, 2000:

Copyright Scottish Media Newspapers, Ltd. Jan 15, 2000

Radio review

SYLVIA PLATH'S poem for three voices, Three Women, was first performed for the Third Programme, as it was then, in 1962, the year before the poet's suicide. This week Radio 3 broadcasts this powerful and beautiful work of a writer often too crudely relegated to the dark and demonic categories. Plath's writing is often celebratory and lyrical, in fact what gives her anguish - the horrific images, the unswerving bearing witness to pain - its integrity, is the confident tenderness of her vision.

Plath's poems are like fierce, poignant distillates where love is tangible and astounding and consciousness is assailed and flayed.

Her subjects are agony and tenderness, and the control with which she makes fluent the experiences of pregnancy, and childbirth remains mesmerising. The First Woman's part contains the most moving prayer to the newborn that I know.

The lines came into my mind when I looked at my new son.

What did my fingers do before they held him?

What did my heart do with its love?

I have never seen a thing so clear.

His lids are like the lilac flower And soft as a moth his breath.

I shall not let go.

There is no guile or warp in him. May he keep so.

I make no apology for quoting here. It's the kind of thing that the heart should immediately file. The simplicity, the unadorned clarity of expression stills the air when read aloud. Lindsay Duncan knew what she was doing in her reading which was a huge relief.

Actors can do the most dreadful things to poetry and mostly should not be allowed near. The poet has already done a lot of work, you see, making sure that the rhythms of a line, and the sound of the words establish an emotional dynamic. This might seem obvious, but it's rare to find an actor who knows how to define a voice (this woman, Voice One, whose baby is wanted, is born healthy, is taken home in joy) without characterising in an inappropriate way.

I think the fear is that of sounding arch and fakey poetic, of doing a "poetry voice". Duncan balanced an easy naturalness with an intelligent reading - and precisely because she did not emote all over the place she was utterly moving. Her performance was delicate, expansive and warm - because she found those things in the verse.

Listening to Three Women again it stuck me how still ground- breaking it seems. The experience of carrying a child, that total unpreparedness for the intensity of it, the bodily tear and stitches business at the same time as experiencing the unfathomable fierce connection - Plath covered the body and soul of it all.

Voice Two is the account of the woman who endlessly miscarries, Voice Three, a student who gives her daughter up for adoption. The interweaving voices are unerringly precise in their bearing witness. The deluge of feeling, physical or psychic, that seems to threaten to dissolve the consciousness never does.

There is something resilient as the blues in Plath, and it gets ignored because of what is known of her death - the head in the oven, the marital abandonment by Ted Hughes. Hughes's poems about their marriage, Birthday Letters, made people revisit the monolithic gender battleground that the lives of the two poets had come in a distorted way to represent.

You cannot listen to Plath and Three Women without considering the magnet her writing was for our time - a magnet for our aesthetic concerns, and our considerations of what femaleness might be. She continues to draw us powerfully, and to use a frequent image, we are kept on the hook of her cries.--(Marcella Evaristi)

--Jim Long

Laurie said...

Jim~Thanks for posting that--a lovely bit of writing. After getting through TW for the first time in ages the other night, I have a new appreciation for it.
Yes, discussing poems/stories sounds like an interesting idea.

And Panther, have a lovely time visiting this weekend.

Al said...

Congratulations to "Three Women". The title for this post made me chuckle.

I would be more than willing to engage in a discussion about her poems and works in general. I have particular interest in her prose (as anthologised in Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams) because some of those works relate strongly to her poetry. Though that is not to minimise the other prose; I would be delighted to read what others interpret of her prose.

Peter K Steinberg said...

Sorry to be tardy in commenting - I am so pleased you posted that review Jim. I was invited to see the play but the distance and airfare was to great. I am also pleased that we are all wanting to discuss Plath's works. It's something I miss about the Sylvia Plath Forum. Maybe later on this month or in May we can begin?

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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 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, Redux." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 232-246.
  • 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: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath. Oxford: Fonthill, 2017.
  • 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.
  • Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin, Tex. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009. (Photograph used)
  • Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (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, Volume 1, 1940-1956. 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. "'A Fetish: Somehow': A Sylvia Plath Bookmark." Court Green 13. 2017.
  • 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. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
  • 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. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "The Persistence of Plath." Fine Books & Collections. Autumn 2017: 24-29
  • 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. "Writing Life" [Introduction]. Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning. Stroud, Eng.: Fonthill Media, 2014.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.