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Sylvia Plath Newsletter VI (Clipped)

From here going forwards, the public Sylvia Plath Society newsletters will be shortened versions. For a plain text version of the full newsletter, contact us on Sign up to our newsletter here for the full version with images.

The Sylvia Plath Society is bringing our members more content than ever! Our extended newsletter format with full-length articles as well as news is here, and our read-along event encouraging people to get stuck in to The Bell Jar is happening. We value suggestions and feedback, so if there are events you want to see or thoughts on anything we've shared, contact us on or via our website or Twitter.

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 for events, newsletter content and more as the society grows.

The 19th June is almost upon us, and the famous "queer, sultry" summer day is perfect for beginning a reading The Bell Jar. Join The Sylvia Plath Society for an en masse read-along, broken into accessible chunks. Whether it's your first time reading the book or the 30th, The Sylvia Plath Society wants your thoughts and ruminations about Sylvia Plath's classic.

If you know somebody who has been meaning to read The Bell Jar or would enjoy a read-along discussion, send them this as an encouragement to join in. At just 240 pages and aiming for three short chapters a day, #TBJ2020 is perfect for getting you out of quarantine and into the Plath community.

We're organising the discussions loosely because we want the insight to come from Society members and Plathians. Each day this week our Twitter and Instagram accounts will have prompts and re-tweeted responses for each of the topics, and you can engage with as many as you want.

Friday 19th June - What are your expectations of TBJ?

Saturday 20th June - Plath's food

Sunday 21st June - Places in the novel

Monday 22nd June - First dates

Tuesday 23rd June - Relationships - parents, romantic, friends, colleagues etc

Wednesday 24th June - Illness, mental and physical

Thursday 25th June - Creative responses to TBJ


If you don't already have a copy of The Bell Jar, of course The Sylvia Plath Society recommends buying from your local independent bookstore. But we also recognise that isn't always possible, so we recommend Maggie Gyllenhaal reading on the audiobook, which can be found on platforms like YouTube and Audible for free. You can buy the eBook from Amazon for £2.29 or from Rakuten for £1.54.

Plath in News

The Plath & Co Podcast is a new creative project run by Eilish Mulholland, an English Literature student currently based in the North of Ireland. Taking its name from a play-on-words of Plath's own poem from the "Ariel" Anthology called "Death and Co", this podcast aims to explore literature and all its designs by refusing to look at just one writer but rather, with a primary interest in Plath, offer an expansion from the inside out. Ranging from the discussion of writers such as Wallace Stephens, Molly Keane and Kate Chopin to topics of historical and cultural debate concerning botanical biopolitics, feminism and art it’s an exciting addition to the podcast scene. You can find the Plath & Co podcast on Soundcloud and connect with Eilish on Twitter @PlathandCo.

Translator Marta Cerezales Laforet is reading extracts from Lydie Salvayre's book The Seven Women (Spanish-language title Siete mujeres de Lydie Salvaire) on YouTube. The women are Emily Brontë, Djuna Barnes, Sylvia Plath, Colette, Marina Tsvetaieva, Virginia Woolf and Ingeborg Bachmann, and are the "literary torches" who guide Salvayre to a life where "writing is not a supplement to existence but existence itself".

Kako si mi? is a student association at the Blaze Koneski Faculty of Philology in Skopje, Macedonia. Their annual philology conference 2020 was an online event devoted to the poetry of Sylvia Plath. Twenty enthusiasts participated in the event, which began with a brief presentation on the life and legacy of Sylvia Plath, and considered the ways in which her character and the cultural context may have affected Plath’s style and thematic preferences. A discussion followed concerning the challenges and methods surrounding the feat that is the translation of this specific type of literature, with reference to Kristina Zimbakova’s paper The Ways Sylvia Plath Speaks Macedonian. A discussion ensued of five selected poems - Metaphors, Mushrooms, Mirror, Fever 103° and The Munich Mannequins. Apart from the conventional interpretations, alternative discussions developed, such as viewing Metaphorsas a meta-poem, Mushrooms as alluding to rise of feminism, and Fever 103°as a nationalist critique similar to e. e. cummings’ poem next to of course god america. Judging from participant feedback, the event went well. Every participant had the opportunity to present their understanding of Plath’s poetry, and everybody learned something new in the process. There seems to be a notable interest in her work, and the organisers hope to have encouraged further study and expanded the reach of Sylvia Plath’s mark on the world.

Critically acclaimed BBC2 documentary Sylvia Plath: Inside The Bell Jar has been translated into Dutch and was recently broadcast on Dutch television. Het Uur van de Wolf: Sylvia Plath - Onder de glazen stolp makes it accessible to a new audience.

Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom is receiving positive reviews in its Turkish translation, as are the Journals in Spanish.

Plath in Art

Singer Lana del Rey has released a video of her reading her poem Patent Leather Do-Over which directly addresses Sylvia Plath and compares her to Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana and Tom Ford. Del Rey has previously invoked Plath in songs such as Hope Is A Dangerous Thing For A Woman Like Me To Have.

Shane McRae credits Sylvia Plath's Lady Lazarus with turning him into a poet, saying "hearing [those lines] re-configured my ideas about what a poem could be." Fellow poets Torrencial Bracamonte, Jalaludeen Ibrahim Maradun and Vicente Rodríguez Manchado cite Plath as an influence, with Manchado telling us that her "exigencia personal y ética" are an inextricable part of her greatness as a poet. Argentine filmmaker Florencia Kirchner is identifying as a ‘madwoman’ and credits Sylvia Plath and other writers with her recent switch to literature from filmmaking.

Dutch poet Lamia Makaddem has translated Connie Palmen’s 2015 book about Plath ‘Jij zegt het’ (You Said It) into Arabic. It is already available in Italian and German, with an English translation forthcoming in 2021.

Greek theatre ΚΠΙΣΝ [SNFCC] is hosting a season of shows about women, including Plath, online.

Plath fans may like Maggie Doherty's new book, The Equivalents. Tagged as 'A Story of Art, Female Friendship and Liberation in the 1960s', the biography of female poets contemporary to Plath touches on Plath, Sexton and the intellectual women of the 50s and 60s. White Lion Publishing's recent output, 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need To Know, includes a section on Plath

Artefacts from the 2003 biopic Sylvia are on sale at Items such as reproduction 1st editions of The Colossus and photos of Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig in character as Sylvia and Ted that were used as set dressing can be purchased.

Sivvy and Me by Adrian Ernesto Cepeda

Subscribe for access to this month's long read article, guest written by poet Adrian Ernesto Cepeda, author of La Belle Ajar among other collections.

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