Welcome to the music issue of the Sylvia Plath Society newsletter! We're continuing to try new things to connect with our readers, so this issue has a playlist you can listen to - please let us know of any musicians inspired by Plath that we may have missed. As ever, our ears are open to comments and suggestions, so contact us on Twitter, Instagram, via our website or by email to share your thoughts.
The Sylvia Plath Society is grateful for new sign ups via our website and the donations we have received. As ever, you can find links to donate and the plain text version of all the Sylvia Plath Society Newsletters there. Visit www.sylviaplathsociety.org for events, newsletter content and more as the society grows.
How many of us get excited when we come across a reference to Plath in pop culture? This issue is dedicated to the musicians who are inspired by the poetry, image or life of Sylvia Plath, and who bring us all joy by referencing some part of her in their songs. It's an issue dedicated to listening, engaging with our inspirations, delving deeper into the images and words that make up poetry.
Our guest columnist Trish Grisafi has requested a 'proper' Plath playlist, and the Sylvia Plath Society has made a work-in-progress effort. If you would like an audio soundtrack to this issue head over to YouTube or Spotify and search 'Sylvia Plath Society' to follow the Society's playlists, or click the links in our website header. We're curating two: both music inspired by Plath and the music we know Plath liked. Contact us to add more or to send us news of musicians who read or were inspired by Plath so that we can be constantly updating and evolving the image of Plath and promoting the musicians and artists who are inspired by her.
Although much of culture has been cancelled because of the global situation, including live music, The Sylvia Plath Society remains dedicated to bringing you both art and news. We're still sending notices of events, both now and in the future, and we hope you can attend these, either virtually or in person. Please continue to let us know of your Plath projects so that we can share them with the Plath community at large.
For access to the full newsletter, including Trish's piece about musicians who find inspiration in Plath, subscribe here. For a plain text version of the full newsletter, contact us on email@example.com.
Plath in News
Zoomposium III, organised by Peter K. Steinberg and Gail Crowther, is happening on the 25th July at 3pm BST. Look to the Sylvia Plath Info website for more details and to book.
Last month, Plath was featured in the Albanian magazine, Mapo Letrare, in the article ‘Sylvia Plath – the shocking poet of the twentieth century’. Gladiola Jorbus delves into the connection between Plath’s turbulent personal life and her poetry, exploring the canonization of Plath as an ‘insane woman’ and the subsequent history of psychoanalytic studies around her work. Jorbus discusses how Plath’s writing often invites its readers to re-evaluate the connections between narrative poetry and psychoanalysis and looks at the mapping of Plath’s psyche onto ancient myths, tales and folklore, discussing how this enabled her not only to explore the depths of her subconscious but bend Freudian concepts ‘according to her own purposes’. Jorbus also investigates the striking similarities between Plath’s tragic suicide and the later suicide of Ted Hughes’ then girlfriend, Assia Wevill, detailing how the similar nature of the deaths of these two women sealed his guilt and prompted him to hold both his ‘ill indecision’ and ‘ill determination’ accountable for their deaths.
Polish publication Wyborcza has named The Bell Jar one of its "books for the weekend". Spanish magazine El Observador recommends Plath for fans of Luisina Ríos - they suggest that people who enjoy Ríos will enjoy Mary Ventura. Dutch publication De Volkskrant name Plath's 'Double Exposure' one of the 'nine greatest books you will never read', suggesting that the disappearance of the manuscript for it can be blamed on Ted Hughes' dislike of its semi-autobiographical nature.
The Spanish issue of The Bell Jar ('La Campana de Cristal') is being reissued by publisher Random House. The new edition speaks to the excellent sales Plath has been seeing in recent times.
Plath in Art
The multifaceted appellation ‘artist’ is one Plath earned the right to in every sense of the word. We may think of her as primarily a writer but was also a visual artist. Qualey’s article ‘12 Famous Authors who were also Illustrators or Artists’ discusses Plath amongst other great artists who also mastered multiple expressions of art. For more on Plath’s art we recommend listening to the brilliant Plath & Co podcast where there is an episode on ‘The art & the Visual: Sylvia Plath and Visual Culture’.
From 18th - 20th September, Le Magasin Saint-Étienne will be the venue for a poetic dance performance called "Journées du Matrimone / Sylvia Plath : O.R.G.A.N.I.Q.U.E". Tickets are available now.
Fenne Kuppens, frontwoman of Belgian pop punk band Whispering Sons, has cited Plath as an influence on her music.
Publisher A Biblioteca Azul is collecting work by Plath previously unpublished in Portuguese. The collection will be under the title "Johnny Panic e a Bíblia de Sonhos" and will include stories, essays and excerpts from diaries.
Aminah Mae Safi's upcoming book "This Is All Your Fault", set in a bookshop, engages with titans of literary history such as Plath and Shakespeare and uses lines from poetry as the chapter headings.
Poet Meena Kandasamy has said that reading Sylvia Plath and Kamala Das has made her see that the trajectory of a female poet is fixed: "Eight inches of neckline, two books of poetry, a lot of sex and depression - nothing else is needed to make a woman a famous writer."
Author Elisabetta Bricca says that Plath has affected her deeply, saying "the writing overcomes the division of gender and becomes universal."
Qondiswa James' play "A", which references Plath as a pop culture figure alongside Kurt Cobain, has found a new lease of life at South Africa's National Arts Festival. Her work has received rave reviews for how it handles its heavy themes since being performed.
The off-broadway show 'Bittersweet' by Alejandra Ramos Riera, which centres around conversations between Plath, Emily Dickinson and Alejandra Pizarnik during gatherings in their New York apartment, has been given a new lease of life after being digitally featured as part of the REMOJO festival's online offering of Latinx theatre.
Portuguese Vogue has dubbed August as 'The Mental Health Issue', and themed its cover photoshoot after Plath's The Bell Jar and other beacons of mental health in literature. The covers have drawn criticism from campaigners for glamorising suffering and contributing to the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Auditions are open to play Sylvia Plath! Short film 'I Am Vertical, But I Would Rather Be Horizontal' is calling for "a native English-speaking actress with an American accent between the ages of 25 and 35. Blonde, with a classic Hollywood actress look and a deep, sensual voice. To play the role of a calm and shy but determined woman, well educated, perceptive, dreamy and romantic." The film puts Plath next to Spanish television personality Belén Esteban, and is to be directed by María Antón Cabot.
The Hindustan Times has published a profile of writer and Sylvia Plath professor Swadesh Deepak in anticipation of his book 'Maine Mandu Nahin Dekha' being translated into English.
South Korean filmmaker Kogonada has used audio of Plath's poem "Mirror" in his video exploration of the use of mirrors in Ingmar Bergman's work. Plath herself was a Bergman fan, basing her poem “Three Women” on his film "So Close to Life". Kogonada's film can be viewed on YouTube.