06 June 2009

Sylvia Plath: Did you know...

The British Council's Peter Orr and Woodberry Poetry Room's Jack Sweeney collaborated on the Poet Speaks series throughout the 1960s. The intent was to capture the poet as a person, relaxed and unrehearsed. In addition, by recording and having copies archived in London and Cambridge, Mass., it would ensure that the legacy of the spoken word was accessible in intellectual environments internationally.

The majority of the readings and interviews took place at the BBC's offices at Albion House, 55 New Oxford Street, London, pictured here.

Did you know that Sylvia Plath was the only American woman (that I could find) who read poems and was interviewed in the Poet Speaks series? Plath's reading and interview was held on 30 October 1962.

In 1966, a selection of interviews was published under the title The Poet Speaks. Simultaneously, selected recordings were released by Argo on a series long playing records. Plath appears with Thom Gunn, Ted Hughes, and Peter Redgrove. Plath's poems included on this LP are: "Daddy", "Lady Lazarus", "Fever 103", and "Ariel".


Anonymous said...

and did you know that i knew it for years and that you can now find the interview with Mr. Orr here? ;) please enjoy.
part1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6RRWf8woPM
part2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFLNL5EyPOg&feature=related

greetings from Italy,
from a big big fan pf Sylvia.


Catty said...

Do you know if any of the recordings SP and TH made for the BBC are available? Does anyone know if you can make requests or appointments to listen to the recordings at the BBC?

Catty said...

Do you know if any of the recordings SP and TH made for the BBC are available? Does anyone know if you can make requests or appointments to listen to the recordings at the BBC?

Peter K Steinberg said...

Hi Catty,

The Plath was released in 1975 on Credo records. Some of these were also include in the 1999 Voice of the Poet series published by Random House.

I'm pretty sure the Hughes recordings were released too, but am not too sure.


Anonymous said...

Not far from The French House down the road, then known as the York Minster where Plath drank (previously frequented by Dylan Thomas who left the MS drafts of 'Under MIlk Wood' there one drunken night) and signed her first contract for The Colossus.

panther said...

It's a pity that SP was the only American woman interviewed for this series-it's not like they didn't have a wonderful array of poets from which to choose.

Then again, Sylvia did occupy an unusual niche in the poetry world at that time, an American married to a much-heralded British poet, and so on. In the 1962 interview, Orr refers to her as a poet who "straddles the Atlantic" and she laughs and says "It's an awkward position. . . but I accept it !"

I'm going to try and sniff out more of these interviews.

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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.