01 April 2014

Sylvia Plath: American Muse

The Estate of Sylvia Plath, HarperCollins, and Hormel Foods, the makers of SPAM, have joined together for National Poetry Month and released a special, limited edition SPAM with lines from Plath's poetry branded on the product. A special chemical added to the product will commit that poem to the memory of the consumer in five languages: English, French, German, American, and XML.

The precooked meat has also been re-packaged with SPAM serving as an acronym for Sylvia Plath American Muse. These can be found in grocery and convenience stores across the United States.

While this may seem random, but Plath was familiar with SPAM. Plath wrote a letter to her mother on 15 August 1952 about a lunch that her then kind-of-still boyfriend Richard Norton made for her down in Cape Cod. She writes that he was adorable and was very insistent that he made a lunch salad which consisted of cantaloupe, melon, cheese and spam. She described it as artistic. The letter is unpublished.

The other reason, is to commemorate a significant anniversary: It is exactly the 32 years, 4 months, and 5 days anniversary of the publication of Plath's Collected Poems, which was first published in the US in November 1981 by Harper & Row.

Beginning today, also, bookstores around the country will be selling, special limited edition Collected Poems printed on compressed, treated, and thinly sliced SPAM. The type is a mixture of pepper and black sesame seeds. Comparable to "onion-skin", SPAM-skin is cheap and lightweight; it is also biodegradable and eco-friendly paper. The book weighs approximately .5 ounces, will ship anywhere in the world reasonably, and can be eaten should you be too hungry.


Anna said...

BUAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAH!!!! This is delicious!!! ;) I've been waiting for this post all day! :)

Peter K Steinberg said...

Thank you Anna! I cannot even begin to describe how foul it was looking for images of this "product".

Melanie Smith said...

Oh you make me laugh :)

Amy said...

I was alternately repelled and ( sheepishly) curious about where I could find this. Then I realized today's date.

Anonymous said...

Prankster man, prankster man, O you.....


Patty said...

You had be going....for a few minutes...and then I realized what today is! Good show!

The Plath Diaries said...

Lol!! Brilliant!! :-)

Marsha said...

I absolutely love this!

Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

Ah yes, the Plath prank! That one pushed it a <<<<>>>> bit too far! ;-) Belated happy birthday to Frieda.

Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

P.S. Where did that picture of Plath come from that you put on the can? I don't recognize it.

Anonymous said...

Good on you Peter! Now we all need to wait for the SPAM folks to pick up this gem of a marketing idea.

Peter K Steinberg said...

Thanks for all your comments! I love getting to have fun once a year.


BridgetAnna said...

You also had me going there for a few lines... baaahhhahhaha how gross would that be!

Peter K Steinberg said...

It's pretty foul, yes, I agree, B!


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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.