25 October 2010

Press Release on Sylvia Plath's Induction to Poet's Corner (NYC)

I received the following press release from the good people at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine...

Sylvia Plath to be inducted into Cathedral of St. John the Divine American’s Poets’ Corner: The Most Influential American Poet of the Last 50 Years

New York, NY: The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is pleased to present an evening of poetry and insight in honor of the induction of Sylvia Plath into the Cathedral’s Poets’ Corner. On Thursday, November 4th at 7:30pm, poets and Plath scholars will take part in the celebration. Participants include Poet in Residence Marilyn Nelson; poet Paul Muldoon; Karen Kukil, Associate Curator, Special Collections & Archivist, Plath Papers, Smith College, speaking on her extensive work with Plath manuscripts, both as archivist and editor of the unabridged journals; poet/scholar Annie Finch speaking on the meter and music of Plath’s poetry; playwright/screenwriter/actress Tristine Skyler; and louderArts Project poets Corrina Bain, Elana Bell, Sean Patrick Conlon, Marie-Elizabeth Mali, and Lynne Procope reading Plath poems.

The formal induction ceremony will take place at the Sunday Evensong Service on November 7th, at 4:00pm. The Very Reverend James Kowalski will preside over the unveiling of the stone, inscribed with the line: “This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary,” from "The Moon and the Yew Tree." Poets Carol Muske-Dukes, Rosanna Warren, Kelly Cherry, and Major Jackson will read Plath poems. As well as music by the Cathedral Choir, there will be performances – on both evenings - of Ariel: 5 Poems of Sylvia Plath for Soprano, Clarinet and Piano, composed by Ned Rorem in 1974.


The Cathedral American Poets’ Corner, founded in 1984, inducts one new writer each year. The first inductees were Walt Whitman, Washington Irving and Emily Dickinson. More recent inductees include Louise Bogan, Theodore Roethke, Langston Hughes, Gertrude Stein, Robert Hayden and Tennessee Williams.

The Poets’ Corner is modeled on the Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey, and in fact we have two poets in common: T. S. Eliot, an American who became a British citizen and W. H. Auden, an Englishman who took American citizenship. No writers are entombed within the Cathedral, as is sometimes the case at Westminster Abbey; rather, stone tablets are carved with names, dates, and a line from each writer’s work.

The Cathedral is proud to be rooted in our local genius. In historic terms—if not in current influence—American literature is still very young. To celebrate American poets and writers fulfills the Cathedral’s mission, and reminds us of the early and continuing verbal ingenuity, insight and dazzle of our countrymen. What constitutes good or great poetry will always be contentious, and rightly so. But we believe there is great poetry being written today, and that great poetry will be written tomorrow. Whenever the energy seems to falter, when our own era seems wan and diminished, new poets come along with something new to say. Walt Whitman wrote, “Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?” This is at the heart of the American experience, and at the heart of the Cathedral’s philosophy.


panther said...

I'd love to hear the 5 poems for soprano,clarinet and piano ! Do you know which poems they are, Peter ?

This is one of those times when I would dearly love to have a teleporting machine.

Julia said...

That feels so good to read "The Most Influential American Poet of the Last 50 Years."

If only it were to be later put on YouTube! I wonder if someone will videotape it.

Peter K Steinberg said...

I do so wish I could have accepted their invitation to attend; it would have been great to live-blog or something for y'all.

The Rorem is available commericially, He did "Poppies in July", "Lady Lazarus", "Words", "Poppies in October", and "The Hanging Man". The link above is to "The Hanging Man" but each is available for .99 (I'm sure they are on iTunes, too).


Peter K Steinberg said...

Also, many libraries hold this too...

Anonymous said...

Wish I could be there. Peter, do you know who choose the quote "this is the light of the mind..." for the stone? It's one of my favorite poems, but it's a tad, well, depressing! :-) Then again, Daddy, Daddy, you bastard, I'm through" probably doesn't belong in a church. How about, "even in your Zen heaven we shan't meet"? kim

panther said...

I like the Zen heaven suggestion, Anonymous ! or how about "Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing" ? Not depressing, not particularly "church-y" but rather universal (I would hope) as an experience ?

Anonymous said...

Or there is, from "Years":

"O God, I am not like you"

-Heath N. Christianson

panther said...

Doesn't she have the line somewhere, "Christ, Plato, these are the people who are important" ? Or, if you want a hint at the incarnation, "You are the baby in the barn" ?

Anonymous said...

O Golden child the world will kill and eat...


panther said...

This is really getting me thinking about Christian imagery in Plath's work. I read somewhere that in the last few months of her life she was corresponding with a Jesuit priest who had read some of her poems and much admired them. I wonder if you know anything about this person, Peter ? or whether the correspondence (or extracts) have ever been published ?

Peter K Steinberg said...

Father Michael (Michael C.J. Carey)! Toni Salvidar reprints some of the letters in her Sylvia Plath: Confessing the Fictive Self.

There is a little bit on this online here. See Chapter 2, page 34+.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Panther! Now I am thinking, after Heath's 'Years' suggestion that

"eternity bores me, I never wanted it"

might be interesting on a memorial stone, in a church...kim

Anonymous said...

"Once one has seen God...What is the remedy?"

Just a thought. Jim Long

Anonymous said...

Or, "I am lost, I am lost, in the robes of all this light!"
Again, Jim Long

Anonymous said...

The wait's begun again, / The long wait for the angel.

Anonymous said...


"Is there no great love, only tenderness?"

Which I think is an immortal line. Again, JL

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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.