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It has been generally agreed that Sylvia Plath’s art improved radically over the course of her short writing life.

We’ll look at some Smith College juvenilia to investigate her early aims and then at some late and posthumously published poems to see what drove her most original imaginative works. The aesthetic criteria for evaluative judgment will be examined in these contexts.

 

Brief Biography
Helen Vendler
is the A. Kingsley Porter Professor of English at Harvard University and the author of Coming of Age as a Poet: Milton, Keats, Eliot, Plath; Poets Thinking: Pope, Whitman, Dickinson, Yeats; and Last Looks, Last Books: Stevens, Plath, Lowell, Bishop, Merrill.

“I believe that poems are a score for performance by the reader, and that you become the speaking voice. You don’t read or overhear the voice in the poem, you are the voice in the poem. You stand behind the words and speak them as your own,” Helen Vendler in conversation with Henri Cole, “The Art of Criticism No. 3,” at The Paris Review.

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