July 20, 2013

Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill

 

Sylvia Plath. I've stumbled upon writings about her and so her name sounds familiar to me. Later on, with the help of the internet, I learned who she was. I'm not a fan or whatsoever, but I would like to know her full story. I've been wanting to read her novel but unfortunately I couldn't find a copy in bookstores yet. One afternoon, while browsing through old books in a book sale, I saw a book not by her but about her. Without any doubt, I bought it. 


Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill is a portrait of her life compiled in poems. Poems are written describing Plath from different perspectives, from different people whom she had shared her life with. I wish I have read her journals before reading this book but so far, I believe, Hemphill had written them in a way that a reader like me, who doesn't know Plath entirely, would understand how she was. Most poems are written in free verse and sometimes inspired by Plath's style or way of writing. Some poems are okay but most of them are heavy. Especially the poems right at the end of the book -- those that speak about Plath in her last days are really heavy. At some point, it made me kind of emotional. I actually hugged the book after I read it. It's like reading a life story about Plath and each dialogue of Plath's friends, lovers, families and others are written in different poems. The poems are very well-written. Hemphill makes me want to read more about Plath. I definitely recommend this book.


There are some questions in the book. Sort of a study guide.

What in this book inspired your strongest emotional response? Explain how it made you feel. Did it connect to your own life? How so? The part where I knew about Sylvia's illness up to the point where she took her own life. I felt sadness and anger at the same time. I just wished someone were there taking care of her... maybe it could have changed the way how she handled her life. I felt like she needed help all the time. I wonder if someone were able to change her mind, took her somewhere else where she wouldn't think about much of it, it could have changed the way she handled everything. Maybe her Psychiatrist could have helped better. Depression strikes once in a while to me and when it does, it takes too long to deal with it. Maybe in that sense I can say that what happened to Sylvia, happens to me, too, but in a lower degree, I guess. Not to the point wherein I would take my own life.

Do you think Sylvia's death was inevitable? Does knowing about her suicide make you respond differently to her novel and poems? Do you wish you didn't know how her life ended? Death is inevitable but the way Sylvia handled it could be avoidable. I haven't read her novel yet but I have read some of her poems. The first time I heard about her, I already know that she committed suicide but not about how she did it. So, I don't think it could change the way I read her writings in the future. Her writings are very beautiful for me and very personal which is why I think they are all special. I've wanted to know how her life ended. I wanted to know the reasons why she did it. I wanted to know what made her take her own life. Even though it makes me angry to think that she took her own life, leaving everyone who loves her, which I think is kind of selfish and just wrong, at least I have known something about her. But, anyway, she really was a beautiful writer. I adore her for that.

If Sylvia were alive today, what do you think she would write about? If Sylvia were alive today, she would have written stories and poems about depression, moving on, meaning of life, what's it like to be Sylvia Plath, where she could have been right now. She could have been a woman with lots of wisdom, stories and poems to share.

If you were to write a poem about your life, what episode would you write about? I would write about the things I did not understand when I was younger, the things that I understood now, and the things that I want to understand in the future. It would be about celebration of life.

3 comments:

  1. I would write about those regrets in my childhood ... all those old good beautiful times and opportunities ...


    christian | my blog :
    www.christianyuen.blogspot.com
    greetings from hong kong
    peace.

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  2. THIS MELT MY HEART. ----------------> If you were to write a poem about your life, what episode would you write about? I would write about the things I did not understand when I was younger, the things that I understood now, and the things that I want to understand in the future. It would be about celebration of life.

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  3. I find Plath fascinating. I definitely recommend reading her novel, the Bell Jar, and her journals. Her poetry is pretty great too!

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