Almost six decades after her suicide, Sylvia Plath's poetry (and prose) continue to fascinate and inspire. More than any other poet of her generation, Plath captured widespread popular attention and hammered out a personal identity and literary aesthetic that has endured for over half a century.
The tragedies of Plath's life and career are well known, and they are particularly germane to a full understanding of her work, given the fact that Plath mastered the Confessional idiom. That said, it is Plath's artistry that gives her work longevity and power. Whether in regard to her bold themes, her incomparable skill with figurative language, her indelible diction, or her metrical precision, Plath was the full-package as a poet. Her insights into nature and human nature, backed by her prodigious scholarship, elevate her work to its rightful place among other literary greats like Yeats, Dickinson, Roethke, or Sappho.
Virginia Woolf's "If Shakespeare Had a Sister" was published in 1929 and concludes with this statement: "If ever a human being got his work expressed completely, it was Shakespeare. If ever a mind was incandescent, unimpeded, I thought, turning again to the bookcase, it was Shakespeare's mind." For Woolf, the realization of Shakespeare's genius was bittersweet, but her observation that "unimpeded" was the make or break point for any artist is no less true for Plath.
Plath, of course, was never able to express her work completely, but her existing work is a pyrotechnic display of mastery and power that, in every way, rises to Woolf's subversive ideals and makes them as real as Woolf did. Plath's incandescent mind still burns and it is sunfire hot for anyone who dares to read her work.
My book The Ariel Method is scheduled for release in May 2022. The book reveals and celebrates the techniques and creative strategies that Plath developed in becoming "Shakespeare's Sister." I've studied Plath's biography and work intensely for many years and I'm finally ready to write about her. Watch this space for updates regarding the book and for glimpses into the mechanics (and mystique) of Plath's poetic idiom.
As always, I eagerly await your thoughts. Talk to me about Plath or anything else -- hit the button below or the "talk" link up top.
Poems have value. Every poem. Some are famous; some are known only by the poet who created them, but each and every poem is valuable, and some are priceless. I plan to use this space to talk about, explore, and sometimes formally analyze poems of all kinds.
If there's a poem you've written or one you've read by another poet that you'd like me to talk about, or just read, use the talk link above or the button below and send it to me.
If you want to send me a physical book or chapbook, use the contact form to request my snail mail address.
I'll blog about famous poets like Sylvia Plath, Wallace Stevens, Hart Crane, and Gwendolyn Brooks. But I'll also write about poets you may not be so familiar with like Camille Ralphs and Vijay Seshadri. I'll also happily write about amateur and unpublished or seldom published poets.
I read a lot of poetry journals, so if you publish your poems, I may happen on them and write about you. But there's always a better chance if you shout them out.
I'll kick things off soon with a blog-post on Sylvia Plath, since my book The Ariel Method will be out next spring. From there, I'll go where inspiration leads. Sometimes I might write about my own writing process and my experiences in submitting and publishing my work. Other times, I may talk poetic theory, history, or general aesthetics. In any and all cases I'm as interested in hearing from you as I am in posting my own thoughts.
I look forward to sharing the adventure with you!