Last Sunday I was lucky enough to attend a reading of the letter’s of Sylvia Plath; having been emailing Peter.K.Stienberg, I spotted the events listing on his blog, Sylvia Plath Info. (Click here to open.) Needless to say, I was VERY excited.
The event was held in Charleston, Lewes, East Sussex-which was just a short drive away. The reading was due to start at eight o’clock that evening; the thing is, the earlier it is, the darker it’s now getting in the evenings. (Winter is coming!!) Coupled with this was rain and wind. I was grateful that I was wearing a wooly jumper.
The event was held in a temporary structure that I could only describe as a large marquee-fully enclosed, of course-which made for an interesting combination; with the wind and rain, the metal beams that held the tent up seemed to rattle loudly at points. (It was loud to me, probably not to the rest of the audience.)
Prior to going to the room where the reading was held, I just had to look at the book sale; as you can see, there was a beautiful display of ‘Letters’. (Boy, is this book hefty! And I don’t mean the price tag-I could probably afford to tone up a muscle or two with it; it’s a great scholarly work, I think.)
There was also this:
I like the look of the poetry book Milk and Honey; anyway, I digress.
Sarah Churchwell, who I’m sorry to say that I can’t remember her full title, gave a brief talk to put into perspective the letters. She recounted Plath’s life, and ‘turning points’, if you could call them that; interning at Mademoiselle, the science course…
Eve Best, actress, read extracts from the letters; she was very effective at personalising Plath! This part of the evening I enjoyed most, as it made Plath seem that little bit more human; she isn’t just the mythologised Poetess, she was an academic, wife, mother, friend, daughter, etc. I think this is sometimes what people seem to forget; on mentioning Sylvia Plath to people, I get the incredulous reaction of “Poetry? POETRY?!”
Plath’s attitude was also noted; in one, for instance, she wrote to her mother, Aurelia, sort of marvelling at her ‘shopping spend up’, listing the garments bought, the amount, what occasion, material… And then, in a ‘P.S’, she asked not to be admonished for the amount spent-as the clothing was versatile, and could be used for basically every occasion. She also seemed very much like your typical teen at points-not to be condescending-such as when writing to her mother about the dreaded science course.
As a piece of feedback: I think that both editors should have been mentioned more, on a more of an equal basis.