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Showing posts from 2010

2010 Sylvia Plath Info Year In Review

Like just about any other year, 2010 for Sylvia Plath was interesting and occasionally controversial. The year saw just one major publication by Plath, and that was the British Library’s Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath CD in April . I was fortunate enough to be asked to write the introduction, which was both a great honor and fun to do. If you have not yet purchased the CD or borrowed it from a library I would highly recommend you do (and not for the intro, mind you, but for the audio tracks). By ordering through the link on the sidebar of this blog you can save 10%. The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath CD wins, hands down, for my favorite cover award of the year. The only book by Plath published this year was by Faber who published a new, hardback edition of Ariel in May , but this was of the originally published Ariel edited by Ted Hughes. Books about Plath were a little skimpy this year too; but those new books that did appear in print are considerably important and extremely valuable co

A Comparison

In England currently the cold weather is big news and is drawing comparisons to the cold, brutal winter of 1962-1963, which is relevant to this blog in so many ways. In fact, in the Daily Mail article " Will it be even colder than the winter of 1962-3? Big freeze returns tomorrow... and it's going to last for a MONTH " by Paul Bentley, Becky Barrow and Sophie Freeman (how many Britons does it take to write about the weather?), the boxed off text "The Great Freeze of 1962/63" seems a paraphrase of Sylvia Plath's prose piece "Snow Blitz." One of my favorite things to do is review the Times and Guardian microfilm from Boxing Day through early February to try to get a sense of what he media coverage was saying about the weather conditions. That the winter is still memorable speaks to its severity. Unfortunately we do not know the date "Snow Blitz" was written, but in all likelihood it was written before she completed what would be called &qu

On Sylvia Plath's "Last Letter" by Ted Hughes

Even after all this time, I'm still digesting "Last Letter" but finding it easier to read now that the hoopla has died down a bit. The news stories on its publications were just atrocious and sometimes it is hard to shake initial feeds, impressions, reports, and rushed judgments. As a result, though, what was reported has to be discredited largely, and ignored & forgotten. Looking back to those long gone halcyon days of early-to-mid October 2010 and those news stories ... I can't read them anymore. They, in fact, they quite privately bore me...(in those days I regarded forgetfulness as an essential part of survival). I'd like to see the manuscripts of the poems, all of them. Hughes's handwriting is difficult at best, but a little time with them and I think much more could be known about the poem. That being said, this post isn't looking at the whole poem, but just a little bit of it. First, though, with this archive of material now available, this te

Sylvia Plath: NFL Prognosticator

& the uses of Sylvia Plath's Journals continues to grow and astound... As we saw in the Plath Profiles 3 Supplement published in October, ten different writers worked with the Unabridged Journals and presented their findings in very different ways... Now, over at , the geniuses have used Plath's Journals to describe the very possible outcomes and scenarios of the fourteenth week of the NFL...

More on Last Letter

These are some online articles that discuss Ted Hughes' recently published poem "Last Letter", which as you know make a big splash and dominated our lives in October. Some of them are older but in the wake of the hullabaloo they got a bit buried... Kay Loftus of the Boston University Quad wrote "'The Last Letter' of Ted Hughes" which appeared on November 7. The New Statesman 's Lucian Robinson posted "Ted Hughes's 'Last letter': the response" on November 22, 2010. From November 28, 2010, there is Peter Steinfels Commonweal piece "Is light the new dark?" which may be one of the first times Harry Potter and Sylvia Plath were mentioned in the same breath? If anyone is at all interested, I am working as and when I can on my own reaction to "Last Letter" and hope to have it posted here shortly...

Sylvia Plath, David Trinidad and Black Telephone

Our friend in Plath - David Trinidad - has a poem entitled "Black Telephone" published in this year's Best American Poetry (edited by David Lehman and Amy Gerstler) . David sent the following "Process Note" to me about his "Black Telephone," which originally appeared in Tin House . "The actual telephone that inspired this poem is in an unwatchable Natalie Wood film from the early sixties, Cash McCall . There's a closeup of it at the beginning of the movie. But I had telephones on the brain; that’s why it captivated me. I was in the middle of writing an essay about the telephone incident that precipitated the end of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes's marriage (Plath pulled the phone cord out of the wall when she intercepted a call from Assia Wevill, with whom Hughes was having an affair), and the way that incident reverberates in such poems as Plath’s "Words heard, by accident, over the phone" and "The Fearful" (and even

Limited Edition Sylvia Plath Books on eBay

I'd like to call your attention to three limited editions of books by Sylvia Plath (posthumously published) that are on auction right now on eBay (ending Sunday). They are Two Uncollected Poems , Two Poems , and Million Dollar Month . Tis the season for giving Plath! One of these, "Million Dollar Month", contains the single poem that remains uncollected and would thus be a poem very few people have ever read. A disclaimer must be made that I am selling these for a friend. UPDATE: Million Dollar Month has sold. UPDATE: Two Poems has sold. UPDATE: Two Uncollected Poems has sold.

Read bits of Heather Clark's The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes

For Thanksgiving...through Oxford University Press’ web page for Heather Clark’s relatively imminently forthcoming book, The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes , you can read the “Introduction” in PDF format . Thank you OUP for giving us this preview of Clark’s eagerly anticipated book. Also, the book is on too with a Look Inside! feature that is generous. Thank you (The cover on is not the same as that which appeared in the recent Plath Profiles 3 Supplement . I totally dig the whole library cover, very gorgeous, but I much prefer the book cover on the advertisement.) Google Books has it, too . Thank you Google Books.

Covering Ariel

I was bro wsing at the Brattle Book Shop on West Street in Boston in October and came across a book by Grant Uden entitled Understanding Book-Collecting . To my surprise on the back of the dust jacket was a line of books, all but one just showing the spines. The most recognizable being... that of Sylvia Plath’s Ariel in that distinctive Faber dust jacket. In the text, Plath is given mention just once, as being a writer who is collected but also of potentially questionable durability. We’ll prove him wrong yet! In the last dozen or so years since I’ve been paying attention, Plath books certainly have risen in value and desirability, particularly those books published during her lifetime. But this is another subject for another time perhaps. This got me thinking where else I’d seen Ariel . At some point in some other book store browsing experience, I had seen the Faber Ariel on the front cover of a book which, I recalled, was on book covers. It didn’t take long to find this title agai

Plath at the Boston Book Fair

The Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair was held this weekend at the Hynes Convention Center. As usual, I attended to drool over Sylvia Plath books and other very fine collectibles. Hot authors this year that were very well represented were Graham Greene, John Steinbeck, and Mark Twain. Under represented was Sylvia Plath, IMHO. Jett Whitehead was there again from Michigan. He has perhaps the greatest collection of Broadsides, Chapbooks, First Editions, Letters From Poets, Modern Poetry, and Poetry Manuscripts to be had in a single booth and under one roof on the planet. Jett in the past has exhibited a autograph manuscript copy of Plath’s poem “The Snowflake Star” (circa 1946). He used to have a first edition of Ariel with thatch drippings from Court Green signed by Ted Hughes to the poet Janos Csokits. Jett is particularly Plathian: “The blood jet is poetry...” Between the Covers Rare Books out of Gloucester City, New Jersey was there. They have impressive holdings and

Plath Profiles 3 Supplement update

It was necessary to make minor corrections to the following essays in Plath Profiles 3 Supplement : " Reviving the Journals of Sylvia Plath " by Karen V. Kukil; " This is a Celebration: A Festschrift for The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath " by Peter K. Steinberg; and " Hidden in Plain Sight: On Sylvia Plath's Missing Journals " by David Trinidad If you downloaded the individual essays please re-download them to have the most up-to-date versions. If you downloaded the entire issue , please re-download this as well for the same reason. Plath Profiles apologizes for any inconvenience. Also, the Editor's Note in Volume 3 (Summer 2010 ) was updated, too, so please re-download that essay and/or the full issue after the 20th of November.

Seventeen November 1949

Please review October 2010’s Double Did you know ... as this post was alluded to at the end of it... Sylvia Plath amassed nearly 50 rejection slips from Seventeen magazine before her first published story, “And Summer Will Not Come Again”, was published in the August 1950 issue. But, did you know... this was not her first publication/appearance in Seventeen ? In the November 1949 issue (pictured here), Plath had a contribution to the lead article “When I’m a Parent” for which she was paid, I believe, $10. The article begins, “Sooner or later, every teen-ager says fervently: ‘When I’m a parent, I’ll do thus and so.’ If your mother or father show particular understanding, you make a mental note that you’ll treat your children as intelligently ... So we asked a number of you what your do’s and don’ts are...Here are the most illuminating and provocative. You said, ‘When I’m a parent...’” Plath’s response to this question is anonymous: her name does not appear next to her quote.

More Photographs of Sylvia Plath's Poets Corner Induction

Bo Kukil kindly sent over four photographs from Sylvia Plath's Induction ceremony on Sunday at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City... Plath's plaque The Poets' Corner Susan Plath Winston, Tristine Skyler, Karen V. Kukil Emily Cook and Robert Shaw

Photographs from Plath's Induction Ceremony

The following photographs were sent from Tristine Skyler of Sylvia Plath's induction in to the Poets Corner at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. The first is of Karen Kukil with Susan Plath Winston (Warren Plath's daughter). They are standing by the plaque. The second picture is of the plaque with the quote "This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary", which is beautiful first line of "The Moon and the Yew Tree." Update 12:39 pm, 8 November: Jessica Ferri covered the event and has a post on the New Yorker's blog about it. Read "The American Poets’ Corner Inducts Sylvia Plath" here .

Photographs of Plath's Celebration on Thursday 11/4

The following eight photographs were sent by Bo Kukil from Thursday's (4th November) Sylvia Plath Celebration at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. Today at 4 PM Plath will officially be inducted into their Poets Corner! Karen V. Kukil, Tristine Skyler, Paul Muldoon (above) Paul Muldoon Tristine Skyler LouderArts Project poets reading "Lady Lazarus" Annie Finch Karen V. Kukil Marilyn Nelson

New article on Sylvia Plath, and more!

Look for “‘The Feeding of Young Women’: Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar , Mademoiselle Magazine, and the Domestic Ideal” by Caroline Smith, Assistant Professor of Writing at George Washington University in College Literature - October, or Fall 2010. If you’re interested in the history of Plath in College Literature , look no further than their 30 year index (link removed due to being broken - pks 9 Nov.): To sum, they have published articles in the following issues. (6.2 means Volume 6, Number 2) 6.2: 121-28; ("On Reading Sylvia Plath" by Margaret Dickie Uroff) 19.2: 60-82; (“‘The Woman is Perfected. Her Dead Body Wears the Smile of Accomplishment’: Sylvia Plath and Mademoiselle Magazine” by Garry M. Leonard) 29.3: 17-34; "Plath, Domesticity, and the Art of Advertising" by Marsha Bryant) 29.3: 35-56 ("Sylvia Plath's Transformations of Modernist Paintings" by Sherry Lutz Zivley) Plath was most recently featured in the article “Mad Girls

Sylvia Plath's Desk

When Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes moved to Court Green in September 1961, they had abundant living space for the first time in their married lives. Each even got a room to serve as a study. In a 15 September 1961 letter to her mother, Plath writes about settling in Court Green and that her brother Warren “has been really a wonderful part of the family “ (429). While he was there, Warren Plath assisted in “sanding an immense elm plank which will make me my first real capacious writing table” (429). Over the next 14 months, Plath would probably write all her new poems and stories on this elm plank. And probably also typed letters home and made entries in her journals. That elm wood desk was part of Plath’s estate sale that, in 1981, would go to the Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith College. How wonderful and coincidental that Plath lived on Elmwood Road! To celebrate this piece of elm wood and the works composed on it, here is a badly shot video. It hangs in the offices of the Mortimer

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.

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

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... You can see a bibliography of articles on Plath's first suicide attempt, and read PDF's of them, over at A celebration, this is .

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

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!

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 eve

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.

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".

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

Responses to "Last Letter"

Over at the New Statesman blog, read two responses to Ted Hughes' "Last Letter" to Sylvia Plath by the poet Michael Rosen and Plath's dear friend Elizabeth Sigmund.

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.

"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 mi