20 October 2010

Heather Clark's Academic Minute on Sylvia Plath

In the "Academic Minute" broadcast on Northeast Public Radio's WAMC, Heather Clark - author of the imminently forthcoming and eagerly anticipated The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes (Oxford University Press) - discusses Sylvia Plath, attempting to dispell some of the "crude misperceptions about Plath in the popular imagination" that have existed since Ariel was published in the mid 1960s.

This minute was just too brief and it makes me look even more forward to her book, which should be a considerable addition to Plath scholarship.


panther said...

A very full minute !

I'm looking forward very much to this book too, a book which explores how Plath and Hughes had this very creative marriage in which each inspired and encouraged (and sometimes provoked ?) the other towards writing. THIS is how these two are best honoured, not through raking through biographical details in order to sensationalize or condemn.

Julia said...

I really like what Clark had to say.

Once again, though, the introduction (before Clark) said she was "best-known for 'The Bell Jar'," before the minute goes on to talk about her poetry.

It makes me wonder if these introducers know anything about Plath, or literature, at all.

Peter K Steinberg said...

Indeed. After the treatment Vanessa Thorpe gave of Plath in early September and the excessively sensational rush-to-judgment analysis of "Last Letter" I've just about given up on the media. And if you stop to think how bad the accuracy is about Plath, how much worse is it for everything else the reporters cover!!

Now, I don't mind that they preface Plath's fame and name with The Bell Jar for a number of reasons. One, though she us known for her poetry the novel is more widely known and read. At least inthink it is. It's also 'easier' than the poems. And the media thrives on reductive ease. They also probably don't realize or care thatvthey are committing a cross-genre identity blunder (CGIB is the accepted acronym for this disease).

The media seem to gravitate towards the oven, the novel, and the marriage to TH. The poems come fourth, as I see it. I'm not saying this is right or appropriate. It is what it is vi can't believe I just typed that.

But, Julia, I do not think they care. In the grand scheme of things. That's our responsibility.


panther said...

"The media seem to gravitate towards the oven. . ." LOL. So true, Peter, so true. I'm a poet too, and I have friends who are poets and we joke that this is the only way to get widely read : die an unusual/sensational/grisly death. It's the only thing that the vast majority of media seem to grasp. A life in poetry (or in any other field) that involves years of hard work, dedication, disappointments as well as triumphs, rejections as well as acceptances. . .well, this can't be boiled down into a newsbite.

Julia said...

Funny Peter, I read your "The poems come fourth" and I thought, "that must be a typo."

To me, Plath's poems can only come FORTH, you know? Ha.

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