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John Chambers, former head of English, King Edward School
10 October 2018
Betty Suchar introduced the speaker, John Chambers, a BRLSI member who has spoken at BRLSI a number of times before for both Poetry and the Literature and Humanities Group.
The speaker explained that the evening was not primarily about Sylvia Plath the person of her life but about the poet and her poetry from all the major phases of her life from 1956-1963. He was focusing chronologically on the poetry showing the range of her subject matter as well as the development of her technical approach. He illustrated a range of poetry to provide balance between the poetry with her observations of the outer world and that with her focus on her inner self which became particularly intense in her final months.
Betty Suchar read 13 of her poems including Conversations among the Ruins, Spinster, Black Rook in Rainy Weather, Mushrooms, In Midas' Country, some stanzas of Parliament Hill Fields, I am Vertical, The Moon and the Yew Tree, Pheasant, Morning Song, part of Daddy, some stanzas of Wintering and Edge. The speaker provided illuminating commentary and explanations for each poem such as the first, which was inspired by a picture by the 20th century painter Giorgio de Chirico whom she greatly admired.
Following the talk, the large audience asked a number of perceptive questions about Plath's life and work.