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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Sylvia Plath


Don't often get to see a play, unfortunately, but caught a tremendous one at the weekend on the life of Sylvia Plath: The Girl Who Wanted To Be God, directed by Brenda Palmer.  A very sharp script (with even a touch of Gerard Manley Hopkins in there) and superbly acted, it presented three personas of Plath and how they were often in conflict with one another.  Sylvia Plath's husband (the late Poet Laureate Ted Hughes) didn't come across too well (unsupportive, egotistical, adulterous) and that may well have been a fair representation of how things were, but I remember thinking years ago - when Ted Hughes visited Kingston Poly, where I was studying Literature at the time - what a cheery scene breakfast must have been in the Plath/Hughes household.  There'd be Sylvia with more than a few problems of her own on one side of the table and a dour Ted on the other - just a crumpled box of Cornflakes between them.  Both stunning poets, but each, I imagine, engrossed in their own poetry.

Incidentally, hearing Ted Hughes recite his work marked the beginning of a conviction - which I haven't changed since - that poets should never read their own poems.  There he stood in his drab overcoat, just a few feet from the Student Union bar, with a pint of beer in one hand and a tatty piece of paper in the other, monotoning his poetry to death.  Mind, it was a cold night and the beer was bloody awful... and I'm still a fan of his writing.

By the by, The Girl Who Wanted To Be God was performed at Blarney Books & Art, which is hosting an event this Saturday to celebrate the UK launch of The Grease Monkey's Tale - bless 'em.

2 comments:

Jane Turley said...

Funnily enough, I recently bought A Lover Of Unreason (by Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev) which is a biography of Assia Wevill - Ted Hughes second wife who also committed suicide. It's near the top of my waiting-to-read pile and looks pretty interesting.....

Paul said...

Let me know what you think of it please, Jane. I'd be interested to hear. Cheers.