Frank Bidart, one of the living poets I admire most (see also this post), speaks briefly on forms:
Archive for the 'Sylvia Plath' Category
This sad news just in. In today’s New York Times:
Nicholas Hughes, the son of Sylvia Plath and the British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, killed himself at his home in Alaska, nearly a half-century after his mother and stepmother took their own lives, according to a statement from his sister. Mr. Hughes, 47, was an evolutionary biologist who studied stream fish and spent much of his time trekking across Alaska on field studies. Shielded from stories about his mother’s suicide until he was a teenager, Mr. Hughes had lived an academic life largely outside the public eye. But friends and family said he had long struggled with depression. Last Monday, he hanged himself at his home in Alaska, his sister, Frieda Hughes, said over the weekend. “It is with profound sorrow that I must announce the death of my brother, Nicholas Hughes, who died by his own hand on Monday 16th March 2009 at his home in Alaska,” she said in a statement to the Times of London. “He had been battling depression for some time.”
Frieda Hughes (yes, the Frieda Hughes) on poetry
We must always remember that the reader can’t see what was in our mind unless we give them something to go on. A good poem uses the best words for the job. But we shouldn’t just throw them in the air and hope that they will fall in a cohesive heap; they require structure and a sense of responsibility. And we should always be looking for new ways to describe something.
As an old Plath fanboy I found this post on bookslut wonderfully correct and beautiful.
There were two kinds of ancient Celtic poets: bards, who learned songs and stories and recited them, minstrel-style, and filid. The fili were visionary poet-magicians. Like bards, they memorized ancient stories and lore, and wrote eulogies and satires. A bard’s satire was just a poem, but a fili’s satire was both poetry and magic. It was a curse, and if a poet sang a satire about you, it would hurt you or sicken you. It was no small thing to anger, betray or disrespect a poet.
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) was the premier satirist of postwar American girlhood, but that isn’t the only reason her work is so great. She was a lyric poet, unafraid of verse and the beauty, power and menace it can convey. We’re unlucky enough to live in an era when “no rhyming poetry” is a submission guideline for any number of bloodless literary journals, as if Plath and Eliot and Brodsky never existed. There’s a link between rhythm and power in poetry, and Sylvia Plath’s creepy nursery rhyme rhythms and refrains stay with you, viscerally, emotionally, like a comfortless lullaby in a frightening childhood.