Poetry News

A Little Bit of Literary Witchery: On Sylvia Plath's 'Radical Creativity'

By Harriet Staff
TAISIA KITAISKAIA, Literary Witches, cover

Literary Hub investigates five lit witches from Taisia Kitaiskaia's book Literary Witches, with illustrations by Katy Horan (Seal Press, 2017). Included in this abridged compendium is one of our favorite radical creatives, Sylvia Plath. According to Kitaiskaia, Plath bears the fury of "MOTHERHOOD, MARRIAGE, AND THE MOON." From there: 


THE FIRST DISMEMBERS  male mannequins with ferocious, precise claws. Bees spill from the hollow arms and legs. The bees swarm on to enact Sylvia's revenge. 

THE SECOND SYLVIA rules a small, cold planet with no other inhabitants. She sips a mysterious liquid from an ornate bowl, watches the mothers on Earth making breakfast for their children, and laughs. 

THE THIRD SYLVIA is a shiny black disc, dragging itself from yew to elm, bed to oven. Everything the disc passes, hearing that black cradle, is terrified into the thrill of living. 

Born in Boston, Sylvia Plath was a social and academic success in spite of intense depressions and suicide attempts. On a Fulbright scholarship to Cambridge University, she met and married the poet Ted Hughes. While Hughes philandered and kept bees, Plath stayed at home with two young children and wrote increasingly brilliant, scary poetry that made use of her anger at husband and father, intense mental states, and obsession with death. At thirty, Plath ended her life by putting her head in the oven.

Pretty ghoulish! Read more about literary witches, courtesy of Literary Hub. Happy Halloween! 

Originally Published: October 31st, 2017