28 June 2011

Plath Profiles 4: A sneak preview?

Just an FYI: if you "like" Plath Profiles on Facebook (because when you like something on Facebook, you officially like something), you may be in for a treat. The Guest Editor (Gail Crowther, aka, Gee Cee) and I are going to post sneak previews on Facebook between now and then. When is then? Then is when Plath Profiles 4 will be live...

Get your Plath on!

25 June 2011

A Hodge Podge of Sylvia Plath Stuff

Ted Hughes, in April, received a blue plaque in North Tawton. Thanks to Cath for the link.

The poor Sylvia Plath letter that failed to sell in February through Bonham’s, also failed to sell in a June 22 auction and Bonham’s in New York, and for a reduced estimate. I have about $45 dollars to my name so in another year, at this rate, I might be able to buy it!

If you have an estimated 3,000-5,000 GBP to spare, on July 14, Sotheby’s is auctioning a self-portrait of Plath dated 7/25/1949. I hardly see a resemblance but it must be real. See Lot 98.

Plath Profiles 4 is in production, it is looking like it will be just under 400 pages of great greatness. Expect publication in the first week or so of July. Details to follow!

22 June 2011

Sylvia Plath's Playlist?

While Plath Profiles 4 is being put together - and it is, indeed, in the process of being put together - I needed a bit of an escape, hence this post.

If Sylvia Plath had an iPod or a mp3 player, what do you think would be on her playlist? Here are a list of some possibilities, that for some reason or another, seem Plathian to me:

Haemoglobin - Placebo
Pounding - Doves
Sabotage - The Beastie Boys
Cold Hard Bitch - Jet
Itsumo - Feeder
Head On - The Jesus and Mary Chain
My Life Would Suck Without You - Kelly Clarkson
Policy of Truth - Depeche Mode
My Little Empire - Manic Street Preachers
66 - The Afghan Whigs
I Believe in the Thing Called Love - The Darkness
Plainsong - The Cure
Ghost - The Indigo Girls
Beautiful - Christina Aguilera
Walk on the Ocean - Toad the Wet Sprocket
Closer - Nine Inch Nails
Scattered Black and Whites - Elbow
Bees - Belly
Found Out About You - Gin Blossoms
Street Spirit (Fade Out) - Radiohead
Round Here - Counting Crows
Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses - U2
Say Goodbye - Dave Matthews Band
God Only Knows - The Beach Boys

Thanks for this digression... I am still very interested in discussing my post from the 1st of this month, on Plath and Lowell and nostalgia...

18 June 2011

Jim Long: Rest in peace

This afternoon Sylvia Plath scholarship lost a friend. James H "Jim" Long passed away after a nearly year-long battle with cancer. Many of you will remember Jim's contributions both to the Sylvia Plath Forum and to this blog. He was a passionate expert, even-toned, and very giving man: and this is just towards Plath. I never met Jim but he was a friend.

Jim published three poems in Plath Profiles 2 in 2009.  In 2008, he published his first collection of poems, Between Wings: Poems.

Rest in peace Jim.

16 June 2011

Plath Profiles 4 Update

Plath Profiles 4 is nearly ready to be put together. We have more than 50 contributions this issue. Ok, 51.

Visitors to the Plath Profiles website will notice that we have now a detail from Volume 4's cover which is of Kristina Zimbakova's "Out of the Shoe and into the Cauldron." Kristina is as you know a Macedonian artist and Plath scholar, and recently she has seen a selection of poems of Anne Sexton's which she translated published. Congratulations Kristina!

The left hand navigation on Plath Profiles' website was updated recently too and you will find a link to the current issue, and beneath that a link to the archives. The archives are free and features both the issues and our various Call for Papers.

The submissions page has been recently revised, too. If you are considering submitting to Plath Profiles - and we hope you do - please review the submission guidelines and do not hesitate to ask if you have any questions! We have one call for papers up right and and two additional topics on which Plath Profiles is interested in reading submissions will be posted shortly.

As you know, normally we publish in August but we kicked patootie and hope to have the issue up in July.

11 June 2011

New and old articles on Sylvia Plath

PH Davies has reviewed Heather Clark’s The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes A wonderfully, beautifully written review.

Recently I learned of a two articles that were previously not a part of any known Plath bibliography.  They are now a part of the one I am building...

Reilly, Erlene. "Sylvia Plath: Talent Poet Tortured Women." Perspectives in Psychiatric Care 16:3. May 1978: 129-136.

Holbrook, David. "The Agony of Sylvia Plath." Higher Education Quarterly 39:3. June 1985: 249-265.

And then I also learned of this one, which was published well after Tabor's bibliography...

Foster, A. V. M. and M. E. Edmonds. "The Roots of Ariel: Sylvia Plath and Her Father's Foot." Diabetic Medicine 12:7. July 1995: 580-584.

And this one:
Abse, Dannie. "The Dread of Sylvia Plath." The Two Roads Taken: A Prose Miscellany. London: Enitharmon Press, 2003.

Other Matters:
Thanks to ~VC for the following Plath reference from, OMG, Roseanne.

A new anthology called Fathers: A Literary Anthology has been published which reprints Plath's poem "Daddy."

06 June 2011

Sylvia Plath event in Illinois in August

The following was sent to me by our mutual friend-in-Plath, Julia Gordon-Bramer.  You may be interested to know that in addition to Julia's talk on Plath's "Daddy," she will be publishing an interpretation of "Fever 103" in Plath Profiles 4 this summer.

I will try to remind you in august a little closer to the time!

For release:  Immediately
For more information, call:
Jenna Todoroff  (618-239-6043) or email: jtodoroff@lindenwood.edu
Kill: 8/26/2011

"Re-Interpreting Sylvia Plath's poem, "Daddy" as a tale of Freud, King Brutus, and Conrad's Heart of Darkness"

Thursday, August 25, 2011                       
Lindenwood University, Belleville, Illinois
5:00 – 6:00 pm.  Free and open to the public.

Sylvia Plath's most famous poem, "Daddy", has been interpreted as an Electra complex gone mad for almost fifty years. Plath scholar Julia Gordon-Bramer will present on how she found the real—and quite obvious-- meanings behind "Daddy", as well as the mystical structure upon which this, and every poem in Ariel, is based—opening up exciting new interpretations for all of Plath's work.

While not essential, attendees are encouraged to bring a copy of Ariel: The Restored Edition (HarperPerennial, 2004), should they want to read along.

Julia Gordon-Bramer is a published and award-winning writer, poet, and professional tarot card reader. She is nearing completion of her book, Fixed Stars Govern A Life: reinterpreting the work of Sylvia Plath through the lens of tarot and mysticism. Gordon-Bramer's work on Plath appears or is forthcoming in Indiana University NW’s Plath Profiles 3 & 4, the Left Bank Review, and Fat Gold Watch. She teaches World Literature and Humanities at Lindenwood University.

This and all colloquia at Lindenwood are free and open to the public.

Room M205 is located in the main building of the Lindenwood-Belleville campus, directly behind the Lindenwood sign.

For more information, contact Jenna Todoroff, Graduate Assistant, at (618-239-6043) or jtodoroff@lindenwood.edu.

01 June 2011

Plath and Nostalgia

Last Friday I gave a brief paper entitled "A Perfectly Beautiful Time: Plath’s Nostalgia" in a panel organized by Steven Gould Axelrod called "Robert Lowell & His Circle" at the 22nd Annual American Literature Association conference in Boston. You will never guess the subject of my paper...

True confession: I cheated a bit. For the main portion of the paper I used the introduction to my paper for
Plath Profiles 4, which is titled "A Perfectly Beautiful Time: Sylvia Plath at Camp Helen Storrow," and wrote a brief introduction to connect it up a bit with Robert Lowell and his influence on Plath. And I thought maybe I could/should post that introduction here to maybe get a bit of conversation going on the subject of Plath and Lowell; and nostalgia as used in Plath's poetry (and other works, too), as learned from Lowell, particularly as I see it in his 1959 volume Life Studies.  Plath and Nostalgia is not a subject that has been explicitly written on (and by explicitly, I mean, that in the bibliography I am building of articles about Plath, the word "nostalgia" does not appear in the title of any except one. See: Marcus, Jane. "Nostalgia is Not Enough: Why Elizabeth Hardwick Misreads Ibsen, Plath, and Woolf." Bucknell Review 24. 1978: 157-177.) And, I think this was a fairly major theme in a number of her works.

I was tempted to add to the piece because there are some obvious short cuts I needed to take in writing it for a 10-15 minute presentation [besides, I tried to read slowly so a) I didn't trip over my own words and b) so that the audience could follow. I tripped over some of my words regardless...]. But, in the end I decided not to do this and hope instead that we can talk and bounce ideas off one another. Maybe we'll see a fuller treatment in Plath Profiles 5 (2012)?  Also, I would like very much not to limit any discussion to just the poetry.  So, here is the brief introduction I wrote for the conference...but you will have to wait to read the text of "A Perfectly Beautiful Time" until
Plath Profiles 4 is published this summer...

When Sylvia Plath audited Robert Lowell's course entitled "Writing of Poetry" at Boston University in the spring semester of 1959 she met the most influential poetry instructor in all her years of education, both formal and informal.  The course description read "Versification. Analysis of contemporary poetic techniques. Manuscripts read and discussed in class." At about this time, Robert Lowell's influential collection
Life Studies was published and he was likely already composing the poems for his next book of original poetry, For the Union Dead, which he published in 1964, the year after Plath's death. Plath first met Lowell in May 1958 at a reading. Reading up on Lowell before the event, Plath wrote in her journal that she had an "oddly similar reaction (excitement, joy, admiration…)" that she had reading Ted Hughes's poems two years earlier (Unabridged Journals 379). In January 1959, just before the classes began, she wrote that Lowell's poetry "is like a good strong shocking brandy (465)"

Life Studies, Lowell achieves perfection in his use of nostalgia as a literary device to convey a personal-historical narrative and I feel Plath learned how to write a successful kind of nostalgic poem herself which had previously eluded her.  There are nostalgic elements to many of her fine, earlier poems. But, ever the impressive student, Plath thus learned her craft from a master (she wrote once, "I need a master, several masters"); certainly much more than she learned as she crafted poems in the styles of W. H. Auden, Wallace Stevens, and Dylan Thomas, who all served at one point also as a "master" (274). After auditing Lowell's course and moving permanently to England, she was able to successful tap into her own source of original nostalgia.

Plath's more successful nostalgic poetry started appearing in late 1960, when she composed "Candles" and a poem that remains unpublished, "Home Thoughts from London."  In London in the Fall of 1960, she writes in "Home Thoughts" of longing for the colorful New England autumns, and of hurricanes named for women and those rivalrous rites of American passage: high school football games. In "Candles," I see a more direct link with Lowell.  Plath remembers "my maternal grandmother from Vienna. / As a schoolgirl she gave roses to Franz Josef." Plath had written about family before in poems such as "All the Dear Dears" and "Point Shirley," the latter written coincidentally during Lowell's course. However, the particular familial, nostalgic style of musing Plath started using in 1960 I feel she learned wholly from Lowell's poems in
Life Studies. To be more precise, it was through Lowell's worldlier and more privileged perspective and his use of European experiences and locations to place his childhood both in context of actual events and those passed down from earlier generations. And although "Candles" was written about a year and a half after she left Lowell's tutelage, it shows that no matter a lengthy gestation, the reward is a fulfilled poem.  What follows in this paper is Plath-centric: I shed Lowell. However, the root of Plath's later writing which I discuss can most certainly be credited more to Lowell's influence than that of just about any other writer she read.

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