Our friend in Plath - David Trinidad - has a poem entitled "Black Telephone" published in this year's Best American Poetry (edited by David Lehman and Amy Gerstler).
David sent the following "Process Note" to me about his "Black Telephone," which originally appeared in Tin House.
"The actual telephone that inspired this poem is in an unwatchable Natalie Wood film from the early sixties, Cash McCall. There's a closeup of it at the beginning of the movie. But I had telephones on the brain; that’s why it captivated me. I was in the middle of writing an essay about the telephone incident that precipitated the end of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes's marriage (Plath pulled the phone cord out of the wall when she intercepted a call from Assia Wevill, with whom Hughes was having an affair), and the way that incident reverberates in such poems as Plath’s "Words heard, by accident, over the phone" and "The Fearful" (and even "Daddy") and Hughes's "Do Not Pick Up the Telephone." Thus I was thinking about the telephone as "trauma object" (Catherine Bowman’s term) and as an instrument of terror in movies like Sorry, Wrong Number and Midnight Lace. So deep was I into research about Plath and Hughes, I knew that their Devon telephone number, before Plath severed the connection in July 1962, was North Tawton 370; after it was reinstalled a few months later, in early November, it changed to North Tawton 447. I was astounded to realize that Plath was without phone service when she wrote the bulk of her Ariel poems that October, a fact that explains, in part, the urgency of the work.
"Certain that Plath would have appreciated my attention to detail, I had to find out the model of her telephone. It would have been from the 700 series (706, to be exact), available in Britain from 1959 to 1967; "subscribers" rented their phones from the General Post Office, and had to wait several months to have them "fitted" by a GPO engineer. The interval, then, during which Plath was cut off from the rest of the world, which ironically helped facilitate her great poetic output. Of course once I knew the model, obsessiveness (or should I say fetishism) led me to Ruby Tuesday, a store in Shropshire that sells vintage telephones on eBay. From them I bought (for £65, plus another £30 for postage) an example of the very phone Sylvia angrily ripped from the wall. It sits here on my desk, magical by association, and beautiful (to my mind) in its shiny black obsolescence."
Congratulations David! Read the poem here.
The black telephone images here are supplied courtesy of David Trinidad. Trinidad, as you may know, had three poems published in Plath Profiles 3 and the essay “Hidden in Plain Sight: On Sylvia Plath’s Missing Journals” in Plath Profiles 3 Supplement this year. If you haven't read these poems and the essay yet, please treat yourself this weekend.
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." Plath Profiles 2. Summer 2009: 183-208.
- 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 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.
- 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. 2000. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. New York: Anchor Books. (Acknowledged in)
- 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. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.
- 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. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
- Steinberg, Peter K. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
- 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. "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. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
- Steinberg, Peter K. "Introduction." Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning. Stroud, Eng.: Fonthill Media, 2014.
- "Banking on his passion for Plath" by Melissa Davis Haller. UMW Today. Spring 2005.
- "Sylvia Plath's Three Women to be staged in London" by Alison Flood. The Guardian. 3 December 2008.
- "FBI files on Sylvia Plath's father shed new light on poet" by Dalya Alberge. The Guardian. 17 August 2012.
- "There Are Almost No Obituaries for Sylvia Plath" by Ashley Fetters. The Atlantic. 11 February 2013.