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Showing posts from October, 2021

Two Unattributed Published Sylvia Plath Poems

On the first of this year, I was going through some paperwork and computer files for a book-in-progress (more about this in my Year in Review post in December), and I stumbled upon two poems Sylvia Plath published towards the end of her sophomore year at Smith College.  I tweeted about it , drafted this blog post, and then forgot all about posting it because other things made it up on the blog first.  I knew as far back as 2015 that  Plath had published something in the Commencement, 1952, issue of Campus Cat , but the humor magazine lists contributors but anonymizes the work therein by not including by-lines. Campus Cat  does not appear in Plath's hand on extant typescripts of the poems that I have seen...but it is certain I have not seen all of Plath's this might not be news to some... On page 1 of the issue, Plath's poem "Virus TV: (We Don't Have a Set Either)" appears under the title "T.V. Or Not T.V.", and there is a prose parag

Famous Quotes of Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath inspires us all in various and wonderful ways. She is in many respects a form of comfort to us, which is something that Esther Greenwood expresses in The Bell Jar , about a bath: "There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them. Whenever I'm sad I'm going to die, or so nervous I can't sleep, or in love with somebody I won't be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far and then I say: 'I'll go take a hot bath.'" We read and remember Sylvia Plath for many reasons, many of them deeply personal and private. But we commemorate her, too, in very public ways, as Anna of the long-standing Tumblr Loving Sylvia Plath , has been tracking, in the form of tattoos. (Anna's on Instagram with it too, as SylviaPlathInk .) The above bath quote is among Sylvia Plath's most famous. It often appears here and there and it is stripped of its context. But I think most people will know it is from her nove

Who's in The Bloomsbury Handbook of Sylvia Plath?

The Bloomsbury Handbook to Sylvia Plath (Bloomsbury Academic, 21 April 2022) can be pre-ordered now via the publisher website , other booksellers like Barnes & Noble  and Blackwells  and Waterstones , and, of course,  Amazon . It is scheduled to be published in six short months from today. The book description from the website reads: "Sylvia Plath is one of the most widely recognised and inspiring poets of the 20th century. With chapters written by more than 25 leading and emerging international scholars this is the most up-to-date and in-depth reference guide to 21st century scholarship on her life and work. "The Bloomsbury Handbook to Sylvia Plath covers the full range of contemporary scholarship on Plath's work, including such topics as: · New insights from the publication of Plath's letters · Current scholarly perspectives: feminist and gender studies, race, medical humanities and ecocriticism · Plath's poetry, the major novel, The Bell Jar , and Plath&#

Sylvia Plath in Swampscott

Seventy years ago, in the summer of 1951, Sylvia Plath worked as a babysitter in Swampscott, Massachusetts, for the Mayo family. One of the children she minded was Frederick ("Freddie").   In her journal entry number 86, which I have dated to circa 12 July , she likens Freddie to a "Kewpie-doll". She says of Freddie, "A talkative Kewpie-doll faced boy of seven, with a Beau Brummel taste for socks and jerseys that match, and for shirts and bow ties - he appreciates more advanced stories, and is extremely clever" (71).  Interested to see what this doll might be and look like, I turned to my friend The Google. They are explained this way: "Kewpie is a brand of dolls and figurines that were conceived as comic strip characters by cartoonist Rose O'Neill." Next then on to Images where the following was found on eBay. Ok, that is capital-D Disturbing! Beau Brummel is a bit older than the Kewpie-doll. According to an online resource, "George Bry

Letters like fury from Sylvia Plath

One of the most memorable days during the years-long process of editing The Letters of Sylvia Plath was the day that copies of 16 letters to Ted Hughes and 18 letters to Edith and William Hughes, his parents, arrived at my doorstep. I vaguely knew they were coming but that hardly actually prepares one to see an envelope, with my name written on it in Frieda Hughes' distinctive hand, appearing in the mailbox at the end of the driveway. I pulled it out of mailbox gingerly, like it was the most fragile object in the world. When I opened it, I'm pretty sure I squeaked. Truly. The black and white photocopies provided enough information about the letters to make transcription possible. There were a smattering of copies of envelopes included, some of which belonged to letters not included in the bounty of stuff Frieda sent. Which begs the eternal question: where are the letters that were stuffed into these envelopes? Who wrote it? Plath? Hughes? Both? And what would their Hollywood

Sylvia Plath's Grave

The history of the gravestone of Sylvia Plath is tumultuous. On 30 April 1963, just over two months after Plath's death, Aurelia Schober Plath, the poet's mother, received a letter from Hilda Farrar, an aunt of Ted Hughes'.  Mrs. Plath routinely annotated her letters with thoughts about the correspondent, ideas for replies, and, as well, comments intended solely for her eyes. Her notations were made in something resembling cycles: both upon receipt and as well through re-readings over the years. Many were made, also, as she prepared her daughter's correspondence for publication in Letters Home (1975), and when she surveyed her daughters' papers—and part of her own archive—for sale to the Lilly Library (1977). In the letter cited above, Hilda wrote: "Billie [Ted Hughes' father] and I went to look at Sylvia's grave last week and he tidied it up as best he could. It appears it is unwise to put up a headstone for some months until the ground has had time

Heather Clark's Sylvia Plath Biography now in paperback

Congratulations to Heather Clark are in order as her Pulitzer Prize Finalist biography Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath  was issued in paperback in the U.S. earlier this week.  If you somehow had the patience to wait 11 months from when the hardback was issued, you are saint-like. Red Comet was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography. The paperback edition is published by the Vintage Books imprint of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. It comes in at 1,118 pages and the ISBN is 978-0-30-795126-7.  You can buy it on Amazon , or from the publisher directly , or from your local book store.  If you are in the New York City area, Heather will be doing a live, in-person event on 1 December 2021. Details here . Red Comet will be published in paperback in the U.K. on 3 February 2022 . All links accessed 16 September 2021.