Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Brief Update

I've been a very bad blogger recently. Currently working very hard in preparation for my upcoming Viva. The scary perfectionist in me is beginning to emerge. I'm currently working on analysing certain points of the wonderful "Parliament Hill Fields", so thought it might be nice to post it up here. It's such a gorgeous poem, with so many layers of interpretation.

On this bald hill the new year hones its edge.
Faceless and pale as china
The round sky goes on minding its business.
Your absence is inconspicuous;
Nobody can tell what I lack.

Gulls have threaded the river's mud bed back
To this crest of grass. Inland, they argue,
Settling and stirring like blown paper
Or the hands of an invalid. The wan
Sun manages to strike such tin glints

From the linked ponds that my eyes wince
And brim; the city melts like sugar.
A crocodile of small girls
Knotting and stopping, ill-assorted, in blue uniforms,
Opens to swallow me. I'm a stone, a stick,

One child drops a barrette of pink plastic;
None of them seem to notice.
Their shrill, gravelly gossip's funneled off.
Now silence after silence offers itself.
The wind stops my breath like a bandage.

Southward, over Kentish Town, an ashen smudge
Swaddles roof and tree.
It could be a snowfield or a cloudbank.
I suppose it's pointless to think of you at all.
Already your doll grip lets go.

The tumulus, even at noon, guards its black shadow:
You know me less constant,
Ghost of a leaf, ghost of a bird.
I circle the writhen trees. I am too happy.
These faithful dark-boughed cypresses

Brood, rooted in their heaped losses.
Your cry fades like the cry of a gnat.
I lose sight of you on your blind journey,
While the heath grass glitters and the spindling rivulets
Unspool and spend themselves. My mind runs with them,

Pooling in heel-prints, fumbling pebble and stem.
The day empties its images
Like a cup or a room. The moon's crook whitens,
Thin as the skin seaming a scar.
Now, on the nursery wall,

The blue night plants, the little pale blue hill
In your sister's birthday picture start to glow.
The orange pompons, the Egyptian papyrus
Light up. Each rabbit-eared
Blue shrub behind the glass

Exhales an indigo nimbus,
A sort of cellophane balloon.
The old dregs, the old difficulties take me to wife.
Gulls stiffen to their chill vigil in the drafty half-light;
I enter the lit house.

Here's a picture of Parliament Hill Fields, in London. I think this picture is really great because I feel I can imagine Sylvia walking along through the park, reflecting. Beautiful.

As soon as June 13th is done and dusted, I'll be back blogging with conviction. Until then, bear with me! Over and out, Plathies! :)

Monday, 9 May 2011

Exciting news! Personal life and thoughts on Assia..

I made a reference in my last entry to some exciting news in the world of my Plath PhD so I'm just going to cut straight to it: I have been awarded a Travel Grant which will allow me to visit Smith College and view the Sylvia Plath archives housed there!! This is such a huge thrill because not only are Plath's archives held at Smith, but for those not in the know - Sylvia Plath attained her undergraduate degree and taught at Smith also! To have the opportunity to walk the paths she walked, look at the buildings she would have looked at and generally immerse myself in all things Sylvia is such an honour. I'm still speechless! I also hope to meet the brilliant Karen Kukil who edited "The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath" and is one of the biggest Sylvia Plath experts out there.

I aim to travel over to Smith (which is a few hours outside Boston, Massachusetts) towards the end of September and hope to stay for around one month. I really enjoy travelling in America and although I've been to Boston once before, I'm looking forward to seeing it all again. Being Irish, I've always felt a connection with Boston for some reason.. I think it must be to do with the Kennedys;) But I honestly cannot believe how lucky I am and am so grateful to my funding body!

Getting this Travel Grant has really spurred me on in terms of study. I had a very successful meeting with my supervisor last Friday and I think we are at last on the same page. I am honestly loving my PhD so much at the moment. When I cast my mind back to last year and how utterly depressed I was in my secretarial job.. it feels like I am a completely different person now (a different Self - or am I reading too much SP??). I know that the way the economy is right now means that no job is guaranteed and I may well have to go back to admin once I finsh up; but I am just so happy to get these opportunities to find out more about my favourite poet of all time :)

Again, I think it's important to note here (from a graduate student-lifestyle perspective) how necessary it is to spend time with friends. I had been working flat out getting ready for my Transfer of Status viva and then a bunch of friends and I decided to go to a music festival in Kilkenny and it really was a great idea! Too much alcohol was consumed, songs were sung and fun was had but if you can't balance hard work with serious fun, then what is life for?! Here are some photos from my weekend as I realised I haven't posted any pictures of myself or my friends so far on this blog!

A view of Kilkenny Castle, from the main street of the city.

Two of my best friends, Gavin and Catriona catch up on Royal Wedding gossip on the Saturday of the festival!

Gavin and myself pose for a quick photo:)

We all had a brilliant weekend and saw a lot of great music acts. Some were relatively unknown and then others like Beth Orton and the Drive-By Truckers did not disappoint! All in all, it was a great weekend and really left me happy and refreshed, ready to return to the sometime loneliness of study:)

This weekend however, I started reading A Lover of Unreason: The Biography of Assia Weevil which really upset me. Being a Sylvia Plath devotee through and through, it was very difficult to wade through accounts of Ted Hughes and his bad treatment of Sylvia. So much so, it made me care very little for Assia, less so for Hughes and angry for Sylvia. Such thoughts and feelings have no place in an academic realm so I do try to suppress them. "A Lover of Unreason" is tough reading and quite upsetting, to be frank. I thought about doing a book review of it because I'm sure there are people interested in Assia that have not read her biography. If there is interest, I will do a review but if not, I feel like casting this sad tale and marginally manipulative book aside.