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Showing posts from June, 2009

Links, reviews, etc. - Week ending 27 June 2009

Here are some links to interesting stories that have run in the last week or so. Philip Stone and Katie Allen at The Bookseller reports " BBC Season Lifts Poetry Sales " on 26 June. Plath book sales are up by 5,000 copies (or 92%) after the BBC's "Wuthering Heights" which aired on 12 May. Ben Myers at The Guardian blogs, " The Spirit of Hughes and Plath is Alive in West Yorkshire " on 23 June. Rosita Bolad of the Irish Times reports " A Poet Clears His Shelves " on 20 June. Maggs of London is offering for sale the books from Richard Murphy's library. Among the many books are several Plath items... Liat Elkayam's review " They Came to Praise Assia " appeared in Haaretz on 18 June 2009. A review of Eilat Negev and Yehuda Koren's biography of Assia Wevill, recently translated into Hebrew. The book's title is Hayeha U'mota shel Assia G.: Hatzela Hayisraelit ben Ted Hughes LeSylvia Plath , or The Life and Death

Sylvia Plath: Did you know...

In The Bell Jar , most of the Ladies' Day guest interns develop ptomaine poisoning after a luncheon - the culprit being the crabmeat. It is quite a memorable scene and so is the recovery. Whilst convalescing, the girls receive a copy of The Thirty Best Short Stories Stories of the Year to read and one story in particular holds Esther Greenwood's attention. This scene is closely related to actual events that happened in June 1953 while Plath was at Mademoiselle . The guest editors - in real life - came down with ptomaine poisoning on Tuesday June 16, 1953. The story Plath read, contained in the The Best American Short Stories 1953: And the Yearbook of the American Short Story (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1953), was "The Fugue of the Fig Tree" by Stanley Sultan. Did you know that Plath was later on faculty at Smith College with Stanley Sultan (academic year 1958-1959)? To my surprise (somewhat) and disappointment (somewhat), her journal entries about him neither me

June 19, 1953

On June 19, 1953, Sylvia Plath was in New York City working as Guest Managing Editor for Mademoiselle magazine. This was a crucial experience for her, one in which she relived - to a certain degree - in The Bell Jar . The Bell Jar , in the absence of substantial journal entries, provides us with some insight into Plath's experiences and conversations during this month (see also a couple of letters in Letters Home ). The novel memorably begins, "It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs..." Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were killed, by electric chair, on June 19, 1953, 56 years ago today. It was major news making event, as Esther Greenwood relates in the novels second sentence, "The idea of being electrocuted makes me sick, and that's all there was to read about in the papers -- goggle-eyed headlines staring up at me on every street corner..." The day of the execution, Plath typed a journal fragment (likely while working). S

Review: A Poet's View of Britain: "Wuthering Heights" by Sylvia Plath

This 30 minute program on "Wuthering Heights" (and other poems) by Sylvia Plath is well done. The commentary by Owen Sheers - with one notable exception - was thoughtful, informative, accurate, etc. The footage of Sheers in Yorkshire, as well as the high resolution images of Plath, her book covers, etc. added to the beauty of Karen McCallion's production. I have always found that being in the place Plath wrote about adds authenticity and understanding to the work at hand. Sylvia Plath is the only American writer to be included in this BBC Four series, A Poet's View of Britain . This is an accomplishment. Sheers discusses Plath's Yorkshire poems "The Great Carbuncle" and "Hardcastle Crags" before setting on the title poem, "Wuthering Heights". He discusses how both Plath experiences in Yorkshire and her earlier poems paved the way towards the composition of "Wuthering Heights". These poems well place Plath within the tradit

Sylvia Plath in Chinese

Earlier this month I received an email from Fan Jinghua that I thought could be a wonderful guest post for this blog. You should know Fan's name and work for he contributed the wonderful essay "Sylvia Plath's Visual Poetics" to Kathleen Connors and Sally Bayley's Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath's Art of the Visual . Fan also maintains the blog Poetry Chinese . Fan's blog regularly publishes his own translations of Plath's poems into Chinese. From Fan: I was planning to read a paper on Plath's reception (and mis-reading) in China, and this is a book cover I would like to illustrate. The poetry book is entitled Haizi (and) Luo Yihe Work, which was published in 1991 in Nanjing. Haizi was a graduate from Peking University, a poet, born on March 26, 1964, and committed suicide on the same day at his 25 birthday in 1989 by lying on a railroad. His suicide is the most celebrated suicide and he is now a poet martyr. He had nothing to do Plath, but when this

Sylvia Plath: Did you know...

The British Council's Peter Orr and Woodberry Poetry Room's Jack Sweeney collaborated on the Poet Speaks series throughout the 1960s. The intent was to capture the poet as a person, relaxed and unrehearsed. In addition, by recording and having copies archived in London and Cambridge, Mass., it would ensure that the legacy of the spoken word was accessible in intellectual environments internationally. The majority of the readings and interviews took place at the BBC's offices at Albion House, 55 New Oxford Street, London, pictured here. Did you know that Sylvia Plath was the only American woman (that I could find) who read poems and was interviewed in the Poet Speaks series? Plath's reading and interview was held on 30 October 1962. In 1966, a selection of interviews was published under the title The Poet Speaks . Simultaneously, selected recordings were released by Argo on a series long playing records. Plath appears with Thom Gunn, Ted Hughes, and Peter Redgrove. Pl

A Review of After Ted & Sylvia by Crystal Hurdle

People like to write about Sylvia Plath. I've built a blog and a website on the very subject. Lately, people like to speak for Sylvia Plath just as much as they like to speak about her. Crystal Hurdle's 2003 poetry collected After Ted & Sylvia was one of the first poetry collections focussed solely on the poet. When I reviewed Catherine Bowman's The Plath Cabinet in March, I neglected to include Hurdle's earlier book. This was accident, afterall I heard her read some of the at the 2002 Sylvia Plath 70th Year Symposium at the University of Indiana, Bloomington. In the area of writing about Plath creatively, I recall being impressed with Kate Moses , whose novel Wintering was well under way, but not so much with either Bowman's or Hurdle's poems. Reading the collection now, after thinking Bowman's work was at least a little unique, I now find that Hurdle was quiet a bit ahead of her. And this unfortunately makes Bowman's The Plath C