29 August 2009

Links, reviews, etc. - Week ending 29 August 2009

  • I received an email about a Concert of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes settings‏ called, 'Setting Agendas', to be held on 18 September, at 6pm, at St. Nicholas' Church, Chawton, Alton, Hamshire, GU34 in England.

    This chamber concert features four song cycles by contemporary British composers, including settings of poems by Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Featured composers include Michael Finnissy, George Holloway,Will May, and Michael Zev Gordon. Works set include Plath's 'Winter Trees', 'Sheep in Fog', and 'The NightDances', and Hughes' 'Remains of Elmet' poety sequence. The latter is a world premiere by Michael Zev Gordon, winner of the 2008 British Composer Award for Choral Composition.

    The works will be performed by soprano Lucy Williams, baritone Terence Ayebare, and pianist Lucy Coluquhn. Admission is free with a suggested £5 donation to St. Nicholas' Church. More information about thechurcn and its location can be found here.

  • Thanks to P. Viktor for pointing out an archived Women's Hour recording on "The Art of Sylvia Plath" from 5 November 2007. It's just over 11 minutes long. This is, wonderfully, seemingly, available everywhere. It's an interview with Kathleen Connors and Ruth Fainlight and includes a clip of an interview with Plath from "Two of a Kind." Ruth Fainlight reads "The Ghost", a poem she wrote about Plath. Kathleen Connors' and Sally Bayley's Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath's Art of the Visual is a remarkable book, heavily illustrated with high quality, clear reproductions of Plath's artwork and wonderful essays to discuss Plath's art. It's required reading for Plath's readers.

  • Plath receives some coverage in Elaine Showalter's recently published A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Anne Proulx. (New York: Knopf, 2009). Plath is covered in some depth in the following sections: "The Poetess of America - Sylvia Plath" on pages 415-417 and "Plath - the Death of the Poet" and "The Bell Jar: A 1960s Jury of Her Peers" on pages 434-440.

25 August 2009

Sylvia Plath Collections: The BBC Written Archives Center

The BBC Written Archives Center holds correspondence and other business related materials between Sylvia Plath and some members of the BBC. In a post I made on 25 June 2007, I said that the University of Reading held these, but that appears to have been an error.

Unfortunately, they do not make photocopies of materials of non-BBC copyright, unpublished material without the written permission of the copyright holder or their estate. And the Plath Estate will not allow photocopies of unpublished Plath materials as they anticipate future publications.

The letters range in date from 1957 to the mid-1960s. However, after 8 February 1963, the date of Plath's final letter to a member of the BBC, one must look at their Ted Hughes files. The letters and other materials deal with trying to get work for the BBC and setting up recording sessions, fee forms for payment for poems broadcast and copyright issues, and establishing the criteria for what became "Ocean 1212-W", amongst other things.

The BBC Written Archives Center is located at:
Peppard Road
Caversham Park
Reading RG4 8TZ

Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/historyofthebbc/contacts/wac.shtml

Of course, you can read more about Plath and her relationship with the BBC in "These Ghostly Archives", an article written by Gail Crowther and myself in Plath Profiles 2.

21 August 2009

Narbeshuber: Confessing Cultures: Politics and the Self in the Poetry of Sylvia Plath

In December, or possibly January 2010, look for Dr. Lisa Narbeshuber's Confessing Cultures: Politics and the Self in the Poetry of Sylvia Plath to be published. From the back of the book:

"This book argues that in her late poems Sylvia Plath adopts a new attitude towards her art and towards technique in general. Instead of constructing the perfect hypnotic illusions of her earlier poems, she relentlessly reflects upon the artificial in fantasy; she ruthlessly criticizes the seduction of illusion, so that the spell of her earlier poetry now reappears, only deformed, unnatural, disturbing. Now the façades appear as façades, artifice as artifice, device as device; all of which brings the disturbance of the earlier poems from the underground painfully into the open air. In this respect, her late poetry can be seen as commenting on, or critiquing, her early poetry’s desire to create ideal fantasy worlds and the seductive pleasures they offer. This later, metapoetic Plath displays brilliance for isolating the machinery of clichés, images, and techniques of everyday discourse of the 50s and early 60s, the post-war mythologies and material practices that shattered and reorganized communal life. All the spaces, public and private, that we put our faith in (churches, hospitals, town centres, homes), all the relationships and institutions wherein we find comfort and stability (family, marriage, friendship, religion, education) become in Plath’s hands a collection of props, devices, and techniques: a bag of tricks. On one level, then, the pleasurable or, at least, mythic codes become unavailable, but on another level, Plath, rather than leaving her readers empty handed, provides them with a toolkit for analysing and transforming the machinery of experience."

Lisa Narbeshuber is Associate Professor of English at Acadia University, Nova Scotia, and is no stranger to Plath.

The details: English literary studies monograph series no. 103. 103 pages. Price $15. ISBN 978- 1-55058-385-4.

Updates to the publication date will be made as they become known. This book is listed on Amazon.com.

18 August 2009

BBC Poetry Season and Emory

The BBC Poetry Season is now holding a vote to name Britain's Favorite Poet. Cast your vote (for Sylvia Plath) here. This reminds me of the reality show So You Think You Can Dance?, only, I suppose this one would be called So You Think You Can Verse? It would be wonderful if the BBC got Cat Deeley to host.

The BBC's Plath page includes some clips, but was not viewable in my area.

The wonderful people at Emory have an Electronic Poetry Portal. One of the pages for Plath includes the 274 poems contained in Collected Poems and each poems first line. Click here to see the page; I hope it wasn't "A secret! A secret!"

For those curious, Ted Hughes also has a page, listing the first lines of 1,028 poems.

15 August 2009

Links, reviews etc. - Week ending 15 August 2009

Here are some links and citations that might make for interesting summer weekend reading...

Helen Broderick at the British Library has a new post, "Poetry, Places and birthdays" about processing the Ted Hughes papers. Includes a nice, clickable image.

Erikka Askeland reviews 'Three Women" at the Edinburgh Festival in the Scotsman.

Susan Zelenka's "Why Sylvia Plath’s story pisses me off" reviews Paul Alexander's "Edge" from Studio @ 620 at in The Daily Loaf. Hey, don't forget, Sylvia Plath didn't actually say, "Not that I’m bitter. Not that I’m vengeful. Not that I’m a keeper of slights." Paul Alexander, speaking for Plath (which is problematic) says this. Not that I'm bitter. Not that I'm vengeful. Not that I'm a keeper of slights...

Shelley Blanton-Stroud recommends "Five books for book clubs who love Mad Men's Don and Betty Draper". The third book is Ariel: The Restored Edition. (Don't let the picture, of the 1965 Faber Ariel, fool you...she really does recommend the 2004 Restored Edition.

CMJ reports that a band called the Antlers, based out of Brooklyn, has a song on their forthcoming record (record! how old am I?), Hospise. The third track is titled Sylvia and was influenced and/or inspired by Sylvia Plath.

I recently found three interesting articles that I'd like to bring to your attention. Here are the citations, and short, unjust summaries...

Banita, Georgiana. “‘No More Idols But Me’: Sylvia Plath as Cinema Icon.” In American Studies as Media Studies. (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2008), 119-126.

---A very good summary of Plath in film, particularly a look at how Sylvia (2003) portrays Sylvia Plath.

Enniss, Stephen. “Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and the Myth of Textual Betrayal.” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 101:1. March 2007: 63-71.

---This is an article I had been looking for for sometime, before finally realizing I should check the library stacks at work. Enniss, formerly the Director of Special Collections at the Robert Woodruff Library at Emory and currently the Eric Weinmann Librarian at the Folger Shakespeare Library, argues (very basically) that it might be time to let go of the idea of Ted Hughes and an evil editor of Plath's work. I somewhat agree, this way of looking at Plath and Hughes is hardly beneficial and stinks of 20th century criticism, most of which is fortunately just left behind in the dust.

Van Dyne, Susan. “ ‘Your Story, My Story’: Having the Last Word in Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.” In Last Letters. (Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars, 2008), 85-97.

---And then this is the flip side to such an argument, completely. Van Dyne is relentless in her summation of Hughes as controlling and manipulative in this look at Birthday Letters, Ariel, and how Hughes's own attitude towards Plath's poetry changed over the years. Some of this paper comes from her 2008 presentation "'The endless gladitorial event': Who was Hughes as Plath's editor?" at the Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium at Smith College.

12 August 2009

I Stepped Into The Room

There is an exhibition on at the Tina Kim Gallery in New York City called I Stepped Into the Room. Plath fans will recognize this exhibition title as the final words of her novel, The Bell Jar. Words so meaningful, yet so open-ended. Anyway...

The exhibition considers the intersection and interplay of the psychological and the spatial. For more, please see New York Art Beat. The exhibition closes on 12 September 2009.

The Tina Kim Gallery is located at 545 W 25th St., 3 Fl., New York, NY 10001. Contact information. Phone: 212-716-1100 Fax: 212-716-1250

05 August 2009

Blogging for Hughes

The British Library has been blogging about their recent Ted Hughes archive acquisition all year. Helen Broderick is the lucky archivist processing the collection, and she posts pretty regularly about her progress, findings, etc. Plath is mentioned in two posts.

The posts are adorned with images throughout that are wonderful to see. As an archivist/librarian myself, I am envious of Ms. Broderick's experience and thankful to her and the British Library for this kind of attention.

04 August 2009

The Bell Jar

Jefferson Barbour at the Examiner (writing from the Virginia Beach area) recently wrote on The Bell Jar. This seems as good a time as any to point out that Harper Perennial is reissuing The Bell Jar with yet another cover on 3 November 2009. This is only listed on sites like Amazon and Borders that I could find, and not yet on Harper's website. Click here to see Sylvia Plath's pages on HarperCollins' website.

This decade, The Bell Jar has been reissued in 2003, 2005, and 2006.

01 August 2009

Chevreau and The Rabbit Catcher

In November 2008, I posted about the collection of Sylvia Plath typescripts (link to library's finding aid) held at the Sydney Jones Library at the University of Liverpool. The typescript for "The Rabbit Catcher" is particularly interesting as written adjacent to the first line - in Plath's hand - is the world Chevreau.

Recently I learned that this is likely not referring to a young goat. Rather, it is referring to a person, Cecile Chevreau. I wonder if she kept young goats?

Cecile Chevreau, along with Gary Watson and Alan Wheatley, read poems for the BBC Third Programme 'New Poems' broadcast on 16 September 1962 (at 18.40, or 6:40 p.m.). Other poets included in the broadcast were Zulfikar Ghose (a reviewer Plath's The Colossus), John Lehmann (an editor at London Magazine), Christopher Hampton, Jenny Joseph, John Knight, Michell Raper, Anthony Thwaite (amongst other things, a producer for BBC radio), and Terence Tiller. The poems by Plath included in this program were "The Moon and the Yew Tree" and "The Rabbit Catcher".

You can read more about Plath, archives, her recordings and the BBC in "These Ghostly Archives", a paper co-written by Gail Crowther and myself to be published in Plath Profiles 2 later this month August. Oh, and if you're interested, you can see a detail of the cover art by Kristina Zimbakova here. But, that's all you're getting until the issue is ready in a week or so...
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