Sylvia Plath

A Lonely Girl Phenomenology

I am following a lineage of sad and lonely girls, women who diarised or even fictionalised their sadness, knowing that their words would be scorned by the men they loved, men whose so-called serious efforts were lauded and canonised, while their own projects were dismissed as personal, histrionic.

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A Mouth Saying Stroh-beh-ree

For reasons sufficient to the writer, as ‘Papa’ would say, certain places, people and words have been left out of these notes. Some are secret and some are known by everyone.

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‘It was a place of force—’ Re-reading the Poems of ‘Ariel’

So much has happened to poetry since Sylvia Plath completed her last poems fifty years ago in 1963 that it might seem weird or regressively sentimental to focus back on them. But, encouraged to do so by a number of anniversary events around the globe this year, what strikes is the endurance of these final poems’ brutal clarity.

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Suspensions of the Real

Studying the Sylvia Plath archival papers at Smith College in 1993, poet, editor and critic Felicity Plunkett intuited that a number of pages were missing from one poem draft. Plath assiduously page-marked drafts of the poems that were to become the Ariel poems. Plunkett was unable to uncover these pages in any of the archives made available to her, which were still in the process of being organised. One night, in dream, she ‘receives’ a phone call, made from a black, period-piece telephone, words delivered in Plath’s idiosyncratic trans-Atlantic diction – ‘look in the yellow folder’.

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