13 October 2009

Yaddo at Smith

The exhibit "Unconquered by Flames: The Literary Light at Yaddo at Smith College" is one of 15 around the country celebrating the artist colony in Saratoga Springs, New York.

The exhibit is all over the library, which I think is a wonderful use of their limited space. The Plath/Hughes experience is the largest of the exhibits, with the most "stuff" and the most cases. In addition to "Sylvia Plath '55 & Ted Hughes at Yaddo, 1959", which is in the Book Arts Gallery, Neilson level 3, there is the Exhibit Overview, Neilson Library, 1st floor entrance, Lola Ridge at Yaddo, 1929-1930, Sophia Smith Collection, Alumnae Gym, Newton Arvin at Yaddo, 1928-1960, Mortimer Rare Book Room, Neilson level 3, and Constance Carrier '29 at Yaddo, 1975 & 1978, Mortimer Rare Book Room, Neilson level 3. Each exhibit illustrates the subjects relationship with Yaddo as well as the results, or products, of the stay. Often a manuscript is side by side with the published, final work.

Plath and Hughes were guests at Yaddo from September to November 1959; it proved to be a pivotal residency for Plath, as she wrote the poems that would complete her first book, The Colossus, and also wrote short stories that got her closer to her true voice, which manifested itself in The Bell Jar and Ariel.

The 14 display cases dedicated to Plath and Hughes are wonderfully clear, with a careful narrative constructed by the exhibit's mastermind, Karen V. Kukil. Each case displays a couple of pages of Plath's journals, and a mixture of photographs, poetry and short story manuscripts and typescripts, typed drafts, galley proofs, printed works, and correspondence with editors and mentors. First editions of The Colossus, The Bell Jar, Ariel and Birthday Letters can be seen, as well as other texts from Plath's library, such as her red cloth German in Review, complete with gouge marks. What Karen has done is taken material we are familiar with and assembled an intimate portrait of the poets as writers, as creators. This portrait itself allows for a new investigation and consideration of the way Plath worked and her output. Also it is clear just how professional and resourceful she was in marketing her work.

Along the wall are images of Plath and Hughes taken from Kukil's other exhibit, "No Other Appetite", which was hosted at the Grolier Club in New York City in 2005. (The catalog of "No Other Appetite" is for sale and is worth every single penny.)

The exhibit will start coming down in pieces later this month. If you're near Northampton, I recommend you stop by and see it. You'll see Plath in a new light, unconquered, even amidst fierce flames.

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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.