28 October 2010

Mark Ford & New York Review of Books on "Last Letter"

Mark Ford at the New York Review of Books Blog examines "Ted Hughes' 'Last Letter'" to Sylvia Plath in a post today.

I like that Ford places "Last Letter" in context to where it might have appeared in Birthday Letters, by discussing it in connection with the poem that likely would have preceded it, "The Inscription."

It's an honor for Gail Crowther's guest post on the Daniel Huws event in Mytholmroyd to be cited and for the blog to be referenced.

27 October 2010

Plath Profiles Volume 3 Supplement Published

Today, on the 78th birthday of Sylvia Plath, Plath Profiles publishes a special supplement to Volume 3. For those of you that read Emily Banas’ press release on 11 October, this comes as no surprise.

The special issue celebrates the 10th anniversary of the publication of Plath’s Unabridged Journals, edited by Karen V. Kukil of Smith College. The issue is also serves to acknowledge, celebrate, and honor not only the work Karen did on the Journals, but also all that she had done for Sylvia Plath scholarship and researchers in her capacity as both Associate Curator of Rare Books and the scholarly supervisor of the Sylvia Plath Collection at the Moritmer Rare Book Room.

I have known Karen since May 1998, when I made my first visit to the Mortimer Rare Book Room. Karen made me feel far more welcome than I believe I deserved to be! In the 12 years since that first research trip, I’ve made numerous return visits to Smith; I simply cannot get enough! Karen is a mentor and an inspiration. Her maiden name Valuckas is even strangely similar to Plath’s pseudonym: Victoria Lucas. We all like Plathian connections and none seems as coincidental and appropriate as this.

Each of the contributors to this supplement were asked to do one simple thing: to write an essay on any aspect of the Journals. In doing so, we have an amazing assortment of approaches to this tome, and it shows how Plath scholars read, teach, and work with the the book. The two essays by Karen Kukil and Kate Moses are fuller, unedited versions of previously published material.

The contents of the issue are:

"This is a Celebration: A Festschrift for The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath" by Peter K. Steinberg

"Reviving the Journals of Sylvia Plath" by Karen V. Kukil

"The Real Sylvia Plath" by Kate Moses

"The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath: Ten Years On" by Luke Ferretter

"Virtually There In Boston" by Gail Crowther

"Reading the Paratexts of Plath’s Unabridged Journals" by Anita Helle

"Learning from Students" by Dianne M. Hunter

"Sylvia Plath on Charing Cross Road" by Amanda Golden

"'Books & Babies & Beef Stews': The Culinary Passion of Sylvia Plath" by Jessica Ferri

"Hidden in Plain Sight: On Sylvia Plath's Missing Journals" by David Trinidad

We also feature two advertisements: one for Heather Clark’s forthcoming (November 2010) The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes and the other for the British Library’s The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath.

Read the issue!

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.

24 October 2010

173 and counting

Google News Archive has made available an additional article on Sylvia Plath’s first suicide attempt in August 1953.

The article “Step Up Hunt for Missing Smith Student” was printed in the Schenectady Gazette on August 26, 1953: 5. This is now the second article made available by this newspaper, and the 173 that I’ve found. The first 172 are listed in the bibliography appended to my Plath Profiles 3 article "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath."

If any of this blogs readers have time, please visit your local libraries and review microfilm available for August 25-29, 1953. If you find articles, please make copies and send them to me. Collaborative Plathing is good Plathing.

Keep scanning Google! And keep on searching...we'll find her yet...

Sylvia Plath Birthday Bash

Actress Elisabeth Gray and professor Sally Bayley of Oxford University announce "The Sylvia Plath Birthday Bash" to be held this Wednesday, October 27th, 2010 from 12-4pm at the New York University Bookstore, 726 Broadway, New York, New York 10003.

The schedule of events is:

12:00-12:30pm : Opening Remarks
‘i who was dead am alive again today’: Celebrating Plath in the 21st Century
Dr. Barbara Mossberg, President Emeritus Goddard College

12:30-1:30pm: Panel Discussion
Re-visioning Plath for the 21st Century
Dr. Helen Decker, CUNY; Dr. Dianne Hunter, Trinity College; and Jessica Ferri, journalist

1:30-3:00pm Plath Open Mic
Come along and read your favourite Plath poem, or an extract from The Bell Jar or The Journals. Led by Dr. Saskia Hamilton, Barnard College

3:00-4:00pm: Closing Remarks
“Paint me a Plath”: Evolving Representations of Plath in the Past, Present, Future
Dr. Sally Bayley

23 October 2010

Sylvia Plath on BBC's Country Tracks

Although not available to most of the world, the BBC's recent series Country Tracks featured the Bronte's and Yorkshire. They do mention Plath, about 44 minutes into the program. For Plath, they present a brief biography and interview the late Elaine Connell's partner Chris Radcliffe. Christ talks about Plath and quoted Elaine and then questioned the state of the grave and why she was buried in this location.

Watch it here! And thanks be to Gail Crowther for the summary and link!

21 October 2010

Daniel Huws at Mytholmroyd, 17th October 2010

The following is a guest post by Gail Crowther, who attended the recent Daniel Huws event in Mytholmroyd. - pks


Last Sunday I attended a talk given by Daniel Huws in the Yorkshire town of Mytholmroyd. It was a talk filled with stories and poems and wonderful folk songs and a talk that brought alive the house at 18 Rugby Street in such vivid light. Daniel recalled his time at Cambridge where he first got to know Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes and his subsequent friendship with both. Given that ‘Last Letter’ had just been published the previous week, it seemed as though the ghosts of 18 Rugby Street featured prominently both in Daniel’s talk and in the echoes of Hughes’ poem about Plath’s final weekend. It was enlightening to discover various elements of the poem that were slightly misremembered (and who of us can say we have never had a false memory?). Daniel felt the poem was written towards the end of Hughes’ life and thus any inaccuracies perhaps due to the passing of time, or maybe even poetic liberties.

But it was the house that lay behind everything, the house in Rugby Street in which Daniel’s father owned a flat, the same flat in which Plath and Hughes spent their first nights together and subsequently a longer period of time in 1959-1960 after their return from America. They were not the only extraordinary residents though. The ground floor had the car salesman who kept his mistress, Helen, and her Alsatian dog, both of whom feature in ‘Last Letter’. However, since Helen had gassed herself three years before Plath, it is not possible that she opened the door to Susan Alliston on that weekend in February 1963. Other residents chart a somewhat tragic history -- the house, full as Daniel described it, of ‘spooks’. There was the widow on the first floor whose husband had fallen from a ladder and died; the Lebanese Drs, mother and son (the son would become the final lover of Susan Alliston before her death in 1969), the loner architect in the top floor flat who drowned at sea in his yacht and the artist Jim Downer who had studied art at Leeds and was friends with the actor Peter O’Toole. Surely a history of this house alone would make a fascinating memoir! The flat in which Susan Alliston lived was a floor above the flat in which Plath and Hughes stayed, so the claims in ‘Last Letter’ that Hughes spent the night in February 1963 in his and Plath’s marriage bed, again may be a false memory. The full facts of this weekend, Daniel feels, are probably yet to be revealed.

The talk ended with a poetry reading – the first Daniel has given for over 30 years – from his collection The Quarry. Highlights for me were ‘A Dawn’, ‘Goodbye’ and an unpublished poem called ‘Debris’. This was followed by folk songs, the same songs that Daniel used to sing sitting in The Anchor in Cambridge with his friends. They were warm and humorous, much like the man himself.

Gail Crowther 19/10/10

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.

19 October 2010

Michael Rosen on "Last Letter"

Published today, Michael Rosen has a long piece on Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes on the New Statesman's website (and maybe in the periodical itself, but who can find a bloody copy in Boston?).

Read "A Minotaur in the Maze", on Ted Hughes' poem "Last Letter".

18 October 2010

Sylvia Plath: Double did you know...

Sylvia Plath published frequently in Seventeen and Mademoiselle throughout her undergraduate college years. Did you know that both periodicals purchased poems but that these poems appear never to have been printed? Seventeen purchased "Sonnet to a Dissembling Spring" in March 1953. Mademoiselle purchased for "inventory" Plath's poem "Parallax" on 17 November 1954.

My suspicion is that Seventeen erroneously purchased "Sonnet to a Dissembling Spring" in March 1953. Plath had a number of poems and stories printed, mostly in the "It's All Yours" section of the periodical. By March 1953, Plath was 20 years old and Seventeen typically only printed poems and stories in "It's All Yours" by those still in their teens.

As for "Parallax"... Sylvia Plath won Honorable Mention in Mademoiselle's first Dylan Thomas Poetry Award in January 1955. It may be that this was her submission... The collegiate winner was Linda Pastan, who has had a remarkable poetry career. In Spring 1971, Pastan published "For Sylvia Plath" in the Michigan Quarterly Review (Vol. 10, No. 2), page 93. This is one of the better treatments of Plath, poetically.

In February 1955, Mademoiselle turned 20. They summarized highlights of each year with memorable topics and contributors. Did you know, that for 1952, Plath was listed among the contributors? Remarkable that only three years into her publishing association with the magazine that they selected her as a notable writer. 1952, of course, was the year in which Plath's story "Sunday at the Mintons" won first prize in their college fiction contest and was published in their August 1952 issue. (pictured here)

I'll have another, biggish "Did you know..." on Plath and Seventeen in November ...

16 October 2010

15 October 2010

Al Alvarez gets harsh...

Al Alvarez has posted a short follow-up on the Guardian Books Blog "Ted Hughes's 'Last Letter' to Sylvia Plath: Second thoughts." The subtitle being, "On reflection, I realise I wasn't harsh enough on the poet when I considered the poem." I can see Alvarez wiping his hands clean and I suspect that the haze of the first impressions craze has died down and we're moving into possibly the more contemplative phase.

14 October 2010

"I have never seen a thing so clear": Sylvia Plath's "Three Women"

Among Robert Shaw’s directions to to his “Three Women” include the short, simple “Trust Sylvia.”

After successful runs in London and Edinburgh, “Three Women” came to New York. The theater at 59 E. 59th Street sits squarely in between the Barbizon Hotel and 575 Madison Avenue, where Plath lived and worked in June 1953 as a Guest Editor for Mademoiselle. It is an area she got to know well in those weeks and so seems a great fit. “Three Women,” along with Edward Anthony’s “Wish I Had a Sylvia Plath,” is part of 59E59’s “A Plethora of Plath.” They have three theaters, and I wish they could have also staged something like “Dialogue Over a Ouija Board” or a reading of Ariel or something. But then I might have exploded in all the Plathcitement."

“Three Women” is something I only ever imagined hearing: not seeing. Plath wrote it for the radio and the purist in me wanted it to stay that way. (I was tempted to just shut my eyes and listen, but being in the second row I thought that might be misinterpreted as being asleep.)

The “Three Women,” Francis Benhamou, Kina Bermudez, and Angela Church*, were perfectly cast. Each giving their own voice to the Wife, the Student and the Secretary, respectively. I found in watching and listening that the emotions, intonations, facial expressions, and gestures & postures of the actresses really made the poem** blossom for me now in ways that it has never before. You hear things differently, say, from the way you read them. And reading “Three Women” is not something that can be done quickly. I can’t or shouldn’t really comment on the acting or the directing, not being equipped with the right set skills to do so; however, I could neither see nor hear any flaws.

The set is minimal. Not as minimal as Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, but in its simplicity the actresses draw our imagination into the maternity ward or round about (to refer to Plath’s setting instructions). The Wife is radiant and glowing in her lines “What is it that flings these innocent souls at us?” At “Here is my son” she invites the student over and they peer through a “window” at a room of babies. It is a tender moment and gives interaction between Women where previously I had interpreted it as me, the reader/listener, receiving the proud invitation. The Secretary’s pain at the loss of her child is felt and enshrouded me like fog. It seemed to me the most difficult of the three to watch. Her “I am myself again. There are no loose ends” is given so matter-of-factly, that it only serves to betray the deepness of her hurt as she attempts to carry-on with her job & life. The Student’s decision to give up her baby in the lines “Goodbye, goodbye” is torturous. She moves seamlessly from the hospital to a consideration of what awaits her outside its walls “The day is blazing,” “Today the colleges are drunk with spring,” and “Hot noon in the meadows.” She tries to move on, but when she hears sorrow in a crying bird, the birds song is a reflection of herself “I am young as ever...What is it I miss?” It reminds me of something Plath wrote in “Parliament Hill Fields,” “Your absence is inconspicuous; / Nobody can tell what I lack.” But the poem ends positively, with the Secretary at home noticing that “The little grasses / Crack through stone, and they are green with life.”

I appreciate Shaw’s directorial liberty and the production is fantastic. After seeing “Three Women,” I will never read the poem the same way. If you’re near New York: Please see “Three Women.” If you’re not near New York: you still have time to book your tickets.

*Here’s an interesting thing: the acronym of the actresses last names is BBC!
**Some see “Three Women” as a poem. Some, a play. I can see the argument for both, but I am of the former and so refer to it as a poem.


Leftovers & Outtakes, possibly questionably included:

A false start:
I was talking to a coworker who asked me what I was doing this weekend. I said, “I’m going to New York to see three women.”

She said, “You’re turning into Ted Hughes! How does your wife feel about that?!”

***
There are certain associations between Plath and “Three Women” that I feel are important to highlight though may be nothing new to many of you, especially because in anything related to Sylvia Plath, it is the little connections that are quite fascinating. In addition to biographical experiences which may have influenced the poem, one of the biggest sources for “Three Women” was Ingmar Bergmann’s “Brink of Life.” I don’t speak or read Swedish but just watching the film transforms ones understanding of the poem and how Plath came to write it.

Shaw’s direction to “Trust Sylvia” is brilliant; yet he also admitted (perhaps off the record) that he has willingly avoided reading up on Plath’s biography. As director this is good and bad. It is good as it allows an unadulterated interpretation: it’s his. And it works, I’m honestly not being critical. It could be bad, however, because readers of Plath - undoubtedly a good proportion of attendees - have certain expectations. As it is set largely in a maternity ward, I expected a degree of likeness in the dress of the characters. Instead, each woman is in darkish clothing (black, gray, beige, brown: only the Secretary wears white, her shirt) that defines their role as wife, secretary, and student. But it is the whiteness that I expected, especially so when one considers “Three Women” to some of Plath’s other hospital poems such as “Tulips” and “The Surgeon at 2 a.m.” These poems suffocate in whiteness, and sameness. In “Tulips” Plath says,

“The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,
They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,
Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another,
So it is impossible to tell how many there are.”

Utterly confined. When Plath wrote “The Surgeon at 2 a.m.,” she opens with this line, “The white light is artificial, and hygienic as heaven.” Throughout this poem words like “transparent,” “snowfield,” “frozen,” “statue,” “icebox,” and “gauze,” all conform to a sense of being trapped, enclosed.

In “Three Women”, Plath updates “Tulips” and tosses her eyes skyward at the moon, which “passes and repasses, luminous as a nurse.” Now the whiteness is less centered around the speaker; it has moved upward, but not for long. Later, the Wife now in hospital ominously comments “The sheets, the faces, are white and stopped, like clocks.” Whiteness descends, like a bell jar.

“Three Women” brings out a range of female experiences surrounding pregnancy and child birth; it is a poem only Sylvia Plath could have written.

***
The genre of the verse poem was something new to her when Plath wrote “Three Women.” She did try a verse dialogue (“Dialogue Over a Ouija Board”) in 1957 or 1958. Her idol, Dylan Thomas, complete the verse poem (or play) “Under Milk Wood” around 1953, which, while performed several times in 1953, was published after Thomas’ death in the February 1954 issue of Mademoiselle. Plath and Thomas were both in New York in June 1953, and she kind of stalked him a bit but didn’t end up meeting him (though she did see him read in Amherst, Mass.) Interestingly, Dylan Thomas temporarily lost his manuscript of “Under Milk Wood” at the York Minster Pub on Dean Street in Soho, London. It was also at this pub where Plath signed the contract for her first book of poems, The Colossus, in February 1960. Both “Under Milk Wood” and “Three Women” were produced by Douglas Cleverdon.

***
In addition to this review, please read Julie Feltman’s which appeared on Theatre is Easy. Further reviews will be appended below...

At nytheatre.com, Jo Ann Rosen reviews...

At backstage.com, David Sheward misses the mark in his review... but catches the wife giving birth in the photograph...

18 October: offoffbroadwayworld.com gives us "Sylvia Plath's Three Women: Poetry Passing Quickly."

19 October: The Epoch Times reviews both "Three Women" and "Wish I Had a Sylvia Plath."

28 October: Eric Grode's review "Seeking Sylvia Plath, in Her Own Words and Someone Else’s" at the New York Times reviews both "Three Women" and "Wish I Had a Sylvia Plath."

13 October 2010

Karen Kukil on Plath's letters to Clarissa Roche

Karen V. Kukil, Associate Curator of Rare Books and Curator of the Sylvia Plath Collection at the Mortimer Rare Book Room, was interviewed today by WFCR's Jill Kaufman about the new letters from Plath to Clarissa Roche and the Plath collection at Smith College. Listen to it here.

11 October 2010

Alvarez on "Last Letter," Links and an Announcement

09 October 2010

08 October 2010

Guardian Podcast features segment on Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes

The Guardian Books section recently posted a Podcast in which they discuss, among other topics, National Poetry Day and the "difficulties surrounding the publication of a newly discovered Ted Hughes poem written immediately after Sylvia Plath's death." Written immediately? Seriously?

The Independent on "Last Letter"

The Independent's Cahal Milmo writes "The Ted Hughes lost poem: Who wants to live forever?"

This is almost a moralistic "high road" piece of journalism which calls into question to appropriateness of publishing unpublished or unfinished works by dead authors from their archives or estates.

However, the article concludes on a note of support I completely agree with by Anthony Thwaite who says, "There is always a difficult judgment to be made in these cases. In the case of Ted Hughes, if Carol Hughes has said that it is time for this poem to be published then that is right and we should be happy about it."

I couldn't agree more.

The article includes links to other related articles such as John Walsh's "Hughes's inner turmoil laid bare" and the Independent's "leading article" "Shock of the new." Walsh's article leaves me wanting; he simply misreads the poems or has misread accounts in memoirs and biographies about Plath's weekend. Granted the weekend is riddled with unknowns, but most can identify where Walsh veers off course. He exaggerates slightly that Plath's suicide was "long planned and anticipated" because a weekend to think about it, I do not think, counts as something "long planned."

What it does show is that something possible catastrophic (see there I go exaggerating, it's contagious watch out) occurred between 5 and 7 February. But I actually believe that whatever happened was catastrophic to her. That Plath went to the Becker's for assistance. That Plath possibly then considered commiting suicide on Friday 8 February (ensuring her children would be safe with the Beckers). That she didn't. But that on Monday morning 11 February she did.

Clearly there is more to be discovered from this poem and from other sources yet unknown and possibly from works that have been completed. How's that for a vague conclusion!

07 October 2010

Smith College announces newly donated Sylvia Plath letters

The News Office at Smith College has announced that four letters written by Sylvia Plath from 1962 have recently been donated to the Sylvia Plath Collection housed in the Mortimer Rare Book Room. The letters are to Plath's friends Paul and Clarissa Roche, and were recently donated by their daughter Pandora Roche Smith.

I read these letters recently on a day-trip to Northampton and they are from March 12, July 11, October 19, and October 25, 1962. This period coincides with Plath's writing "Three Women" up through her famous October poetic outburst.

Roche visited Plath after the break-up of her marriaged in November 1962 and then once again in London early in January 1963. Plath and Hughes met the Roche's in Northampton, Mass. in 1957 when Plath was an instructor in English at Smith College.

You can see a list of more libraries and archives and rare book rooms that hold Sylvia Plath's papers or related materials on the Archival Materials page of my website, A celebration, this is.

Last Letter read on BBC Devon

Hear more of Ted Hughes' "Last Letter" to Sylvia Plath read by Melvyn Bragg on BBC Devon.


Podcasts and CDs

Not to take the momentum away from Hughes' "Last Letter"... but there are two pieces of informatin to pass along today...

  • For those unavailable to attend the recent Ted Hughes Conference at Cambridge, a podcast has been made available of a conversation between Carol Hughes, Daniel Huws, and Richard Hollis. With them as chair moderator is Colin Wilcockson.

  • Published today are two mega compilation CD's by the British Library to coincide with National Poetry Day in England.

    The 3-CD compilation British Poets includes 30 poets from Tennyson and Browning in the late 19th century to Thom Gunn and Ted Hughes in the mid-20th century, reading from their own work, often with their own spoken introductions. The selection features historic recordings by poets laureate John Masefield, Cecil Day Lewis, and John Betjeman; unforgettable voices such as W H Auden, Edith Sitwell and Stevie Smith; and rare recordings by Philip Larkin, Edwin Morgan, and Ian Hamilton Finlay. Almost all of the recordings in this collection are published for the first time here.

    The 3-CD set American Poets includes recordings of 27 poets from Gertrude Stein (born in 1874) to Amiri Baraka (born in 1934). The 20th century was a time of enormous energy and variety in American poetry, embracing such eminent names as T S Eliot, E E Cummings, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Robinson Jeffers, Langston Hughes, Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. The majority of the recordings have not been published before.

    Plath's poems are "Candles" and "Berck-Plage."

    British Poets: The Spoken Word is published by the British Library on 7 October 2010, 3-CD set with accompanying booklet, price £19.95, running time 217 minutes, ISBN 978 07123 5105 8.

    American Poets: The Spoken Word is published by the British Library on 7 October 2010, 3-CD set with accompanying booklet, price £19.95, running time 209 minutes, ISBN 978 07123 5106 5.

    UK orders: Both CD sets are available from the British Library Shop (tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7735 / e-mail: bl-bookshop@bl.uk) and online at www.bl.uk/shop as well as other bookshops throughout the UK.

    US orders: University of Chicago Press, 11030 South Langley, Chicago, IL 60628, USA

    Tel: +1 773 702 7700 or +1 800 621 2736 sales@press.uchicago.edu

06 October 2010

Watch Channel 4 New story


Watch the Channel 4's news story on the recent Ted Hughes poem on Sylvia Plath!

Breaking Sylvia Plath/Ted Hughes News

The BBC Reports "Ted Hughes poem on Sylvia Plath's death published."

"A poem in which Ted Hughes describes the night his first wife Sylvia Plath took her own life in 1963 has been published for the first time."

The poem, called "Last Letter" appears in the New Statesman and was culled from the recent British Library acquisition of Ted Hughes' papers which opened for research earlier this year.

The BBC report says,

"The poem begins: 'What happened that night? Your final night.'

"It then details, in chronological order, the last weekend of Plath's life, in February 1963, when she and Hughes were still married but living apart.

"It begins with Plath sending Hughes a letter, which is intended to arrive after the weekend, but is delivered early.

"The poem goes on to describe Hughes rushing to her house, where Plath reassures him that everything is fine. He leaves and she ultimately takes her own life."

See the New Statesman piece concerning this find here.

Maev Kennedy at the Guardian writes "Unknown poem reveals Ted Hughes' torment over death of Sylvia Plath."

One more article to share

In September, the Fortean Times ran "Poetry and the Paranormal" by SD Tucker. The article meanders off the subject of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes after a while...but thought it was worth passing along anyway.

05 October 2010

New Articles on Sylvia Plath

Just found out about the following two articles published in 2010.

Wootten, William. "'The Alchemical Power': The Literary Relationship of A. Alvarez and Sylvia Plath.” The Cambridge Quarterly 39:3. 2010: 217-236.

Meyers, Jeffrey. “Sylvia Plath’s Mysterious Lover.” Yale Review 98:4. October 2010: 88-102.

This appears to be Wootten’s first foray into Plath; while Meyers has previously published, at least, the following two articles:

Meyers, Jeffrey. "Literary Allusions in Sylvia Plath's Journals." Notes on Contemporary Literature 32:1. Spring 2002: 9-11.

Meyers, Jeffrey. "Sylvia Plath: The Paintings in the Poems." Word & Image 20:2. April-June 2004: 107-122.

Meyers also gave Plath a little coverage in his Manic Power: Robert Lowell and His Circle (New York: Arbor House, 1987).

Also in the news yesterday from the Telegraph is “The language that lovers share is a 'window' into the state of their relationship” by Richard Alleyne. This was also picked up at least by the Daily Mail in their “Soundalike sweethearts: How perfectly matched couples mimic the way each other speak.” Thanks to Kristina Z for the Telegraph link above.

Today, both "Three Women" and "Wish I Had a Sylvia Plath" open in New York at the 59E59 theater. Are you going?

01 October 2010

Forthcoming Book: Representing Sylvia Plath

The Plathosphere is anticipating Representing Sylvia Plath, a collection of essays on Plath edited by the estimable duo of Sally Bayley (Oxford University) and Tracy Brain (Bath Spa University). The publisher is Cambridge University Press and the publication date is looking like April or June 2011.

The table of contents looks like this:

Introduction: ‘Purdah’ and the Enigma of Representation by Sally Bayley and Tracy Brain

Part I: Contexts

Aesthetics and Ideology: Judging Plath’s Letters by Jonathan Ellis

The Photographic Chamber of the Eye: Plath Photography, and the Post-Confessional Muse by Anita Helle

‘O the tangles of that old bed’: Fantasies of Incest and the ‘Daddy’ Narrative in Ariel by Lynda K. Bundtzen

Plath and Torture: Literary and Cultural Contexts for Plath’s Use of the Holocaust by Steven Gould Axelrod

Part II: Poetics and Composition

‘The Trees of the Mind are Black, The Light is Blue’: Sublime Encounters in Sylvia Plath’s Tree Poems by Sally Bayley

Coming to Terms with Colour: Plath’s Visual Aesthetic by Laure de Nervaux-Gavoty

Madonna (of the Refrigerator): Mapping Sylvia Plath’s Double in ‘The Babysitters’ Drafts by Kathleen Connors

Procrustean Identity: Sylvia Plath’s Women’s Magazine Fiction by Luke Ferretter

Part III: Representation

Confession, Contrition, and Concealment: Evoking Plath in Ted Hughes’s Howls & Whispers by Lynda K. Bundtzen

Fictionalising Sylvia Plath by Tracy Brain

Primary Representations: Three Artists Respond to Sylvia Plath
Adolescent Plath—The Girl Who Would Be God by Suzie Hanna
Bodily Imprints: A Choreographic Response to Sylvia Plath’s Poppy Poems by Kate Flatt (with Sally Bayley)
Stella Vine’s Peanut Crunching Plath by Sally Bayley

Many of these essays take root from papers given at the 2007 Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium at Oxford in October 2007. There is no doubt that these essays will add significantly to a growing scholarship on Plath which makes use of not only primary materials, but of Sylvia Plath herself as a subject; a subject that shifts and is being remade and reinterpreted by writers and artists.
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Publications & Acknowledgements

Interviews