Sylvia Plath in the Domestic Sublime - Piano and Spoken Word, 12/5

Celebrate the visionary voice and breathing spirit of Plath, Helen Hills Chapel, Thursday, December 5 at 7:30 pm.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
7:30 pm Sylvia Plath in the Domestic Sublime - Piano and Spoken Word - Helen Hills Chapel

Click to watch the video

The event is free, open to the public, and is sponsored by the Smith College Poetry Center and the Book Studies Concentration.

This performance is a creative outcome of Danaë Killian’s postdoctoral research project at the University of Melbourne, Transformations and Initiations: Sylvia Plath in Flames, in Performance. In this research, Danaë Killian seeks like Plath to performatively cross flaming thresholds between biography and art, existence and death, potential and actual selves.

Program to include:

BACH Goldberg Variations, BWV 988

SCHOENBERG Drei Klavierstücke, Op.11
Sechs kleine Klavierstücke, Op.19

PLATH Kindness, Totem, Cut, Nick and the Candlestick, Mary’s Song, Child, Contusion, Words, and Balloons

Like Plath’s late poems, Bach’s Goldberg Variations are at once intimate, personal, domestic; and macrocosmic, baring the deep architecture of the universe and the sufferings of the Platonic world-soul. With musically dynamic magic, the Goldberg Variations (inward as a dream, expansive as sunlight) transform the involutions of their close-hearkening dwelling-space within the human heart into a gothic cathedral reaching toward spiralling stars; while from the polyphonically woven body of the Goldberg, Plath’s words of domestic apocalypse bloom like stigmata; bleeding into the postapocalyptic beautiful world and abyss of Schoenberg’s Klavierstücke.

Sylvia Plath Collection

The most-heavily used items in the Mortimer Rare Book Room are the papers, books, and photographs in the Sylvia Plath Collection. The bulk of the collection was purchased in 1981 from the Estate of Sylvia Plath (Smith College class of 1955); much more has been added over the years through purchases and gifts. Poems written in successive drafts are frequently consulted by students and outside scholars. Plath’s initial handwritten draft of “Cut” was written on Smith College pink memorandum paper. Researchers also can consult items such as Plath’s 1962 engagement calendar with her entries about daily activities, meal planning, and childcare arrangements. Smith also owns books from Plath’s personal library, her handwritten and typed journals, and many other materials.

Plath dated many of the drafts of her poems which appear in her posthumous collection Ariel; Cut bears the date October 24, 1962, just about a week after the official opening of the Rare Book Room at Smith. Certainly Plath never imagined that her papers would be housed in special collections at her alma mater (the College Archives also has Plath-related items). Plath wrote 29 of the 55 poems eventually included in Ariel during October 1962. Smith’s Plath-related collections also include photographs, journals, correspondence with friends and relatives, and books from Plath’s personal library.



Karen Kukil
Associate Curator of Special Collections
Mortimer Rare Book Room
(413) 585-2908