Sylvia Plath

Plath's tragic death can make her seem legacy more important than it really is. 

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How to pan the great works of literature on Amazon? Meet the five varieties of one-star amateur reviewer:

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At a reading I went to last week, a young writer named Amelia Gray took the stage and announced with a demure smile that she was going to read some “threats.” Some were humorous: “I will gather your oldest friends at my home and we will have a conversation. You will hear us talking but when you come into the room we will stop talking.” Some left the menace to the imagination: “Try to kiss me. See what happens to your lips.” Some were vividly violent. “Your face is sealed with glue I have boiled in a vat. ...

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SINCE THE 1960S, WHEN Michael McClure imagined Billy the Kid humping Jean Harlow in The Beard and Barbara Garson had Lyndon Johnson whacking Jack Kennedy in MacBird, it has grown obvious that actual people, often still among us, have become the grist of American playwriting. In one recent week alone, a musical opened by Michael John LaChiusa called First Lady Suite, featuring Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy, and Mamie Eisenhower, along with a semi-fictional comedy by A.R. Gurney called Mrs. Farnsworth, about a Vassar woman who may or may not have been impregnated by George W.

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Ariel's Appetite

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath edited by Karen V. Kukil (Anchor Books, 732 pp., $18)      Saturday exhausted, nerves frayed. Sleepless.      Threw you, book, down, punched with fist.      Kicked, punched. Violence seethed. Joy to      murder someone, pure scapegoat. But pacified      during necessity to work. ... Baked a lemon      meringue pie, cooled lemon custard and crust      on cold bathroom windowsill, stirring in black      night and stars. Set table, candles, glasses      sparkling crystal barred crystal on yellow      woven cloth ...

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Poetry

Never have so many written with such technical skill: this remark, as often an expression of frustration and dismay as of admiration, has become a commonplace of poetry criticism in the 1970s. Never, of course, have so many written. And published. And competed for a lamentably small audience: there are perhaps more writers than readers of poetry at the present time. In so diminished a sphere the consequences have been, and continue to be, predictable.

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