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Showing posts from February, 2013

Sylvia Plath's Teen-Age Triumph

On 24 February 1951, Sylvia Plath wrote a postcard home to her mother from Haven House at Smith College about seeing a cartoon about her posted on the community bulletin board in College Hall. She wrote: ... A senior said to me at lunch, 'Congrats for being up on the College Hall Bulletin Board again.' (Smith girls in the news, you know.) So, full of curiosity, I hurried over. [...] I stood for a full five minutes laughing. It was one of those cartoon and personality write-ups titled 'Teen Triumphs.' There was a sketch of a girl s'posed to be me--writing, also a cow [...] All this effusive stuff appeared in the Peoria, Illinois, Star on January 23. Beats me where they got the sea stuff. I just laughed and laughed." ( Letters Home , 66-67, please note the date assigned in Letters Home , 25 February 1951, is the postmark date. The letter is dated by Plath  "Saturday", which was the 24th that year.) The text from the cartoon reads: BORN TO WRITE

Exhibit & Lecture: Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar at 50

Ongoing is the 13th Annual Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Library Exhibition, Sylvia Plath and The Bell Jar , which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Bell Jar . The exhibit closes on 10 March 2013. Have you yet seen  the excellent, illustrated exhibit website ? If you are free next Wednesday, 27 February, come to Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island, to hear Karen V. Kukil, the Associate Curator of Rare Books at Smith College, give the Keynote Address to the exhibit. Karen's talk, " The Bell Jar at 50", is absolutely brilliant and will take place in Global Heritage Hall, Room G01.  See you there! Wait... what? Still need more temptation? Here are some of the featured items: First edition of The Bell Jar published by Heinemann in England under the pseudonym of Victoria Lucas (1963) First American edition of The Bell Jar published by Harper & Row (1971) Facsimile of Sylvia Plath's holograph outline for Th

On the 50th Anniversary of Sylvia Plath's Death

While I prepared this post to go on the blog on February 11 , I decided to hold it back not wanting either to clutter an already full day/week or feeling it necessary to speak about Plath when I was more interested in letting her "speak" to me, as it were.  Sylvia Plath died 50 years ago on 11 February 1963. It was 50 years ago today, 18 February 1963, that her body was laid to rest in Heptonstall. Though we commemorate these anniversaries: there is never a time when we celebrate her death. It is always a celebration of Sylvia Plath's life and the products of her life: her creative and personal works: her poems, short stories, artwork, journalism, journals, letters, and anything else! The recent 50th anniversary of The Bell Jar also ensured that Plath is very much present in the early part of this year. As might be expected, there has been a recent biographical focus given to Plath in books by Carl Rollyson ( American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath ) and Andr

Sylvia Plath Biographer Carl Rollyson at Harvard Bookstore

Carl Rollyson, author of the recently published biography American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath,  will be at the Harvard Bookstore, 1256 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138 tomorrow,  Friday 15 February 2013 at 7 PM to discuss his book. And sign them too. The event is free. *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** Another free event I would d like to remind you of is " The Bell Jar at 50", the exhibit and lecture (the 13th Annual Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Lecture) currently on at Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island. Read more about the exhibit here  (and also see some images of items from the exhibit); and you can recall (fondly) some installation photos here .  The exhibit runs until 10 March; but before that you should consider attending the keynote lecture to be given by Karen V. Kukil of Smith Collection on 27 February at 3:30.

On the 50th Anniversary of the Death of Sylvia Plath

Thou shalt have an everlasting Monday and stand in the moon. This is the silence of astounded souls. A smile fell in the grass. Breath, that is the first thing. Something is breathing. My own breath? The breath of my mother? No, something else, something larger, farther, more serious, more weary.

Ann Skea's 5th Chapter on Sylvia Plath, Ariel, & Tarot

Ann Skea has recently published her fifth chapter exploring the journey of Sylvia Plath's Ariel and the Tarot. This chapter looks as the remarkable poems "Ariel," "Death & Co.," "Magi," and "Lesbos." Skea's insights into these poems are quite interesting to read and well-written. It certainly is interesting to read about these poems from this angle. Ace work. I think I like this, best: "Plath, whose whole concern in Ariel was to free the creative energies which inspired her, seems, in 'Death & Co.', to have intuited a poetic meaning to this card. 'Thalidomide', 'Barren Woman' and, in particular, her earlier poem 'Stillborn' (June/July 1960) offer a clue: Plath's poems are her babies, without inspiration she is barren; influenced by the wrong energies, they may be deformed; without spirit, they are dead."

Sylvia Plath: Did you know...The Bell Jar in The Jailor

There are a couple of instances in Sylvia Plath's body of work where poems and prose share an inspiration, a scene, some memorable words, and even a title. Immediately what comes to mind is her "All the Dead Dears," which was both a short story and a poem. I like this crossing of genres very much. One of the concerns Plath had with The Bell Jar is that she did not want it to be known as a poet's novel; that is a novel written by a poet. This in part informed her decision to publish it under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. However, contemporary readers of her work poetry may have found their way to the novel somehow, even though it was first published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. In a poem like 1959's "Suicide Off Egg Rock," it would be nearly impossible not to draw a connection between poem and prose. "Suicide Off Egg Rock" appeared in her poetry collection The Colossus  (Heinemann, 1960) and was read over the airwaves of the BBC, bu

Sylvia Plath: Did you know...

While at the Lilly Library in October doing research before the Sylvia Plath 2012 Symposium, one of the folders in Plath mss II that I wanted to look at contained Plath's letters from 1963. For the several times that I had been out there, I really had not spent much time at all with her correspondence, which is a great embarrassment and a regret, especially because I know the letters that were published in Letters Home are heavily edited and often do not bare any likeness to the original! The letters are organized in rough chronological order... Rough because some researchers working with these papers lamentably get careless and as a result the letters can be out of order... Anyway, while working my way through those letters, I encountered, inevitably, the letter that Plath sent to her mother dated 4 February 1963 - 50 years ago today. It is the last letter included in Letters Home and other than hearsay -- that Plath wrote her mother a letter the night before she took her life

13th Annual Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Lecture/Exhibition: Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar

The 13th Annual Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Lecture/Exhibition celebrates the 50th anniversary of the publication of Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar . Karen V. Kukil, Associate Curator of Rare Books at the Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College, will present a keynote lecture, and co-ordinated the loan of about 59 Plath artifacts/manuscripts/facsimiles from the Sylvia Plath Collection, for the exhibition. Among other items in the exhibit are Plath's 1950-1953 journal, her Royal typewriter, photographs, letters, and typescripts. Karen will present her lecture " The Bell Jar at 50" on 27 February 2013, at 3:30PM Global Heritage Hall, G01, Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island. The exhibit, prepared by Christine S. Fagan, the Collection Development/Acquisitions Librarian at RWU, is free and open to the public and will run from 1 February to 10 March 2013. If you are anywhere near Bristol, do yourself a favor and visit the exhibit. If you are