Sep 18, 2008

Sylvia Plath and Confessional Poetry

Day 4 of Writing in Metaphor and Imagery for Book Blogger Appreciation Week

Today, I want to introduce you to Sylvia Plath, who was more than a poet. She was a novelist and a short story writer as well. One of the first works I read by her was The Bell Jar, which illustrates the mental breakdown of a young woman and is often considered autobiographical. For the longest time, this was the only work I knew of hers. Many have viewed her poetry as confessional, mirroring the poetic works of Anne Sexton and Robert Lowell. Confessional poems often highlight unflattering aspects of a poet's personal life, whether it is illness, sexuality, or depression.

Ariel is one collection of her poems, it was published after her death along with several others. The only collection of her poems, despite her prolific pen, that was published during her life was Colossus. Shortly after publishing The Bell Jar, Plath committed suicide with the help of her gas oven.

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite poems from Ariel, which was published in Poetry Magazine, a subscription of which is up for grabs here. Here are a few of my favorite lines from the poem.

Fever 103°

Greasing the bodies of adulterers
Like Hiroshima ash and eating in.
The sin. The sin.

Darling, all night
I have been flickering, off, on, off, on.
The sheets grow heavy as a lecher's kiss.

And now for the contest:

To enter for 1 copy of Sylvia Plath's Ariel leave a comment here about Sylvia Plath, any Plath poem you know, or anything else poetry related.

For an additional entry, please blog about this contest and leave me the link to your post or email 5 friends about the contest and cc savvyverseandwit AT gmail DOT com

Another friendly reminder about these contests:

1. Diary of an Eccentric is holding a contest for The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold and The Choice by Nicholas Sparks Deadline is Sept. 30

2. Savvy Verse & Wit is holding a contest for Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg as the first contest for Book Blogger Appreciation Week Deadline is Sept. 19

3. Savvy Verse & Wit is holding another contest for "A Coney Island of the Mind" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti as part of BBAW; Deadline is Sept. 19

4. Bookish Ruth's contest for The Sally Lockhart Mysteries by Phillip Pullman

5. Savvy Verse & Wit's contest for a 1-year subscription to Poetry magazine. Deadline is Sept. 19

Please also double-check the growing list of giveaways at My Friend Amy's blog.

Deadlines for all of my BBAW contests will be Sept. 19, Midnight EST.


avisannschild said...

I've been a bit obsessed with Sylvia Plath since I first discovered her journals in my high school library in grade 8. (Confession: I never returned that book!) She also wrote amazing stories and essays, which were published in the book Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams. And I've read nearly every biography written about her... But somehow I don't have a copy of Ariel!

Serena said...

Well this could be your opportunity to win a copy. I love this collection.

Confuzzled Shannon said...

I read the Bell Jar and loved it but I never picked up any of her poetry. I'd like to try some her poetry, so I am in for a copy.

Serena said...

Some of her poetry is very raw, but I think that is the heart of the confessional poem. Thanks for entering the contest.

Anonymous said...

"Daddy" is one of her most popular poems. I have the complete works of Plath, and I can't remember the name of the poem I really like.

I agree that her poems are raw, and I think that's what I like best about her.

Serena said...

I think that's what I like best about her. Daddy? I forget how that one goes at the moment.

windycindy said...

Hi, I remember watching the movie named after her poem "The Bell Jar."
I remember that Julie Harris was in the movie. The whole thing seemed to be telling me that sometimes just being a woman is an act of courage!
I have often wondered what made Slyvia's work so dark and intense. I don't know much about her life!
Thanks, Cindi

Serena said...

You should watch the movie Sylvia! It has gwyneth paltrow and daniel craig. That will give you an idea of why her poetry is so intense.

Anonymous said...

I loved the book The Bell Jar also but haven't read any of her poetry. I will have to watch that movie, I somehow missed it:) Thanks for the giveaway Serena!

Anonymous said...

I have always found it fascinating that although she suffered from such deep mental illness she was still able to create such brilliant poetic masterpieces due to that condition.


Ruth King said...

I've been meaning to read The Bell Jar for years. I can't believe I didn't read it as a teenager. I'm actually more familiar with her poems because a friend used to include a different one in each e-mail she sent me. (I love my bookish friends!)

Thanks for linking to my contest!

The Bookworm said...

shame on me, I have never read Sylvia Plath. I have heard of The Bell Jar, and have always meant to pick it up.

Anonymous said...

I love Aylvia Plath. I do have The Bell Jar, a muh loved, tattered opy. The following work always fascinates me whenever I read it. So I produe it here ion is own entirity, although it is too long.

Daddy by Sylvia Plath

You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time---
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off the beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene

An engine, an engine,
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gypsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been sacred of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You----

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I'm finally through.
The black telephone's off at the root,
The voices just can't worm through.

If I've killed one man, I've killed two---
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There's a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through.

I would like to win Ariel. Please count me in.


gautami tripathy said...

Sorry for that shabby typing in there. A few of my keys stick!

Book Sp(l)ot said...

I'm another who has never read anything of hers...but I have always meant to (and wouldn't this be the perfect chance?)


RebekahC said...

I read The Bell Jar last year, and found it to be a really sad but insightful story. Anyone interested in Plath should certainly check this one out.

I don't believe I've read Ariel, so I would love to enter this draw.

Thank you!

littleminx at cox dot net

Serena said...

Thank you all for entering. I am working on picking the winners!

Anonymous said...

Serena, I've never read any Sylvia Plath. I'm almost ashamed to admit it.

Of course, I've heard of her and watched the movie staring Gwyneth Paltrow.

Congrats to gautami for winning the poetry collection.

Serena said...

gautami was so excited she won that she felt like dancing. :)