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Showing posts from October, 2010

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,

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 e

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 co

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

Karen Kukil on Plath's letters to Clarissa Roche

Karen V. Kukil, Associate Curator of Rare Books and Curator of the Sylvia Plath Collection at the Mortimer Rare Book Room, was interviewed today by WFCR's Jill Kaufman about the new letters from Plath to Clarissa Roche and the Plath collection at Smith College. Listen to it here .

Alvarez on "Last Letter," Links and an Announcement

Al Alvarez's reaction to Ted Hughes' "Last Letter" appeared on The Guardian 's website a short while ago. The article, from what I can tell & was told, was in Saturday's Review section of said newspaper. Elisabeth Gray's "Wish I had a Sylvia Plath" was reviewed by TheaterMania.com and by BroadwayWorld.com . I saw "Three Women" twice on Saturday and have a review of it; but with all this other news going on will wait a day or so to post it. Emily Banas at Indiana University Northwest has written the following news release: IU Northwest English professor William Buckley publishes Volume Three of Plath Profiles . You will find the announcement to which I refer in the title of this post within the news release.

The Observer Reports...

Robert McCrum of The Observer reports on Ted Hughes' poem "Last Letter." Click here to read "Ted Hughes's final lines to Sylvia Plath bring closure to a tragic tale." *** Update: Paul Vallely at the Independent also contemplates Ted Hughes' "Last Letter" to Sylvia Plath in his " A last letter seared in fierce flames "

The Independent on "Last Letter"

The Independent 's Cahal Milmo writes " The Ted Hughes lost poem: Who wants to live forever? " This is almost a moralistic "high road" piece of journalism which calls into question to appropriateness of publishing unpublished or unfinished works by dead authors from their archives or estates. However, the article concludes on a note of support I completely agree with by Anthony Thwaite who says, "There is always a difficult judgment to be made in these cases. In the case of Ted Hughes, if Carol Hughes has said that it is time for this poem to be published then that is right and we should be happy about it." I couldn't agree more. The article includes links to other related articles such as John Walsh's " Hughes's inner turmoil laid bare " and the Independent 's "leading article" " Shock of the new ." Walsh's article leaves me wanting; he simply misreads the poems or has misread accounts in memoi

Smith College announces newly donated Sylvia Plath letters

The News Office at Smith College has announced that four letters written by Sylvia Plath from 1962 have recently been donated to the Sylvia Plath Collection housed in the Mortimer Rare Book Room. The letters are to Plath's friends Paul and Clarissa Roche, and were recently donated by their daughter Pandora Roche Smith. I read these letters recently on a day-trip to Northampton and they are from March 12, July 11, October 19, and October 25, 1962. This period coincides with Plath's writing "Three Women" up through her famous October poetic outburst. Roche visited Plath after the break-up of her marriaged in November 1962 and then once again in London early in January 1963. Plath and Hughes met the Roche's in Northampton, Mass. in 1957 when Plath was an instructor in English at Smith College. You can see a list of more libraries and archives and rare book rooms that hold Sylvia Plath's papers or related materials on the Archival Materials page of my website,

Last Letter read on BBC Devon

Hear more of Ted Hughes' "Last Letter" to Sylvia Plath read by Melvyn Bragg on BBC Devon .

Podcasts and CDs

Not to take the momentum away from Hughes' "Last Letter"... but there are two pieces of informatin to pass along today... For those unavailable to attend the recent Ted Hughes Conference at Cambridge, a podcast has been made available of a conversation between Carol Hughes, Daniel Huws, and Richard Hollis . With them as chair moderator is Colin Wilcockson. Published today are two mega compilation CD's by the British Library to coincide with National Poetry Day in England. The 3-CD compilation British Poets includes 30 poets from Tennyson and Browning in the late 19th century to Thom Gunn and Ted Hughes in the mid-20th century, reading from their own work, often with their own spoken introductions. The selection features historic recordings by poets laureate John Masefield, Cecil Day Lewis, and John Betjeman; unforgettable voices such as W H Auden, Edith Sitwell and Stevie Smith; and rare recordings by Philip Larkin, Edwin Morgan, and Ian Hamilton Finlay. Almost al

Watch Channel 4 New story

Watch the Channel 4's news story on the recent Ted Hughes poem on Sylvia Plath!

Breaking Sylvia Plath/Ted Hughes News

The BBC Reports " Ted Hughes poem on Sylvia Plath's death published ." "A poem in which Ted Hughes describes the night his first wife Sylvia Plath took her own life in 1963 has been published for the first time." The poem, called "Last Letter" appears in the New Statesman and was culled from the recent British Library acquisition of Ted Hughes' papers which opened for research earlier this year. The BBC report says, "The poem begins: 'What happened that night? Your final night.' "It then details, in chronological order, the last weekend of Plath's life, in February 1963, when she and Hughes were still married but living apart. "It begins with Plath sending Hughes a letter, which is intended to arrive after the weekend, but is delivered early. "The poem goes on to describe Hughes rushing to her house, where Plath reassures him that everything is fine. He leaves and she ultimately takes her own life." See the

One more article to share

In September, the Fortean Times ran " Poetry and the Paranormal " by SD Tucker. The article meanders off the subject of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes after a while...but thought it was worth passing along anyway.

New Articles on Sylvia Plath

Just found out about the following two articles published in 2010. Wootten, William. "'The Alchemical Power': The Literary Relationship of A. Alvarez and Sylvia Plath.” The Cambridge Quarterly 39:3. 2010: 217-236. Meyers, Jeffrey. “Sylvia Plath’s Mysterious Lover.” Yale Review 98:4. October 2010: 88-102. This appears to be Wootten’s first foray into Plath; while Meyers has previously published, at least, the following two articles: Meyers, Jeffrey. "Literary Allusions in Sylvia Plath's Journals." Notes on Contemporary Literature 32:1. Spring 2002: 9-11. Meyers, Jeffrey. "Sylvia Plath: The Paintings in the Poems." Word & Image 20:2. April-June 2004: 107-122. Meyers also gave Plath a little coverage in his Manic Power: Robert Lowell and His Circle (New York: Arbor House, 1987). Also in the news yesterday from the Telegraph is “ The language that lovers share is a 'window' into the state of their relationship ” by Richard Alleyn

Forthcoming Book: Representing Sylvia Plath

The Plathosphere is anticipating Representing Sylvia Plath , a collection of essays on Plath edited by the estimable duo of Sally Bayley (Oxford University) and Tracy Brain (Bath Spa University). The publisher is Cambridge University Press and the publication date is looking like April or June 2011. The table of contents looks like this: Introduction: ‘Purdah’ and the Enigma of Representation by Sally Bayley and Tracy Brain Part I: Contexts Aesthetics and Ideology: Judging Plath’s Letters by Jonathan Ellis The Photographic Chamber of the Eye: Plath Photography, and the Post-Confessional Muse by Anita Helle ‘O the tangles of that old bed’: Fantasies of Incest and the ‘Daddy’ Narrative in Ariel by Lynda K. Bundtzen Plath and Torture: Literary and Cultural Contexts for Plath’s Use of the Holocaust by Steven Gould Axelrod Part II: Poetics and Composition ‘The Trees of the Mind are Black, The Light is Blue’: Sublime Encounters in Sylvia Plath’s Tree Poems by Sally Bayley Coming t