25 October 2012

Update from the Sylvia Plath 2012 Symposium Day 2

Lynda K Bundtzen began the day discussing Sylvia Plath’s psychotherapy, use of unconscious in 1958 poems. Making use of Plath's therapy notes with Dr. Ruth Beuscher, Lynda referred at times to Sigmund Freud's "Mourning and Meloncholia", Lacan, and Letters Home, and looking applicably at several poems by Sylvia Plath, among them "The Beekeeper's Daughter," "Man in Black," "Electra on Azalea Path," "The Colossus," "Daddy," and "Purdah."

Langdon Hammer spoke on James Merrill’s use of Ouija Board for poetry inspiration. Hammer has been at work on a biography of Merrill for a decade which is most definitely a labor of love. It promises to be thorough and excellent, judging from the essays of his that I have read and the presentations through which I have sat. This was not a paper on Sylvia Plath, but Hammer did refer to Plath's practice of Ouijaing with Ted Hughes.

Between this and the 1 o'clock panel with poets talking about Plath influenced their poetic process...I went to the Lilly Library to continue feeding my archival fever. I feel badly for missing Linda Adele Goodine and Suzie Hanna's talk on juvenile/adult fantasy, liminal space between waking and dreaming in visual art and film; but I am hopeful that some kind person has taken notes and will considering typing up a review which can be posted here on this blog, or, on a blog of their own.

The poets discussing Plath's influence on their poetic process was quite interesting. A couple of them found and defined Plath to be a confessional poet, which is really at odds with the way she is classified by scholars, critics and academics. In some ways, technology and Starbucks notwithstanding, we might have been in 1975 rather than 2012! Each of the poets caught something off of Plath's poetry (and life) that spurned them into their vocation. A quite wonderful panel with deeply sincere memories of the importance of Plath in their lives: both that initial spark and how Plath continues to be a presence in their poems.

The discussion on Plath Profiles and Plath on the web was not as good as it could have been because Bill Buckley, the founder of Plath Profiles, was unable to attend at the last moment. This unfortunately left me on the stage alone and I can only offer my condolences to the brave people that sat through it! I did read some prepared remarks by Bill about his desire to create a journal dedicated to Plath and its founding at the 2007 Plath Symposium at Oxford.

After this it was back briefly to the Lilly Library to look at a few more things to close out the day. My call for people to meet at 5:30 (see post yesterday) was met by one or two brave souls. Thank you: you know who you are. With any luck, somehow, all the panels will have summaries written about them but at least there will be a good few writes ups to which we can look forward to reading.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Sounds great Peter - thanks for your bulletins from the front! ~VC

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