Author Tags: Poetry
A self-confessed 'Plath and Hughes' addict, Crystal Hurdle began her fascination with Great Britain's Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, who died in 1998, and his wife and fellow poet Sylvia Plath, who committed suicide (by gas) in the year she published her autobiographical novel The Bell Jar, in 1963, after hearing Ted Hughes read his poetry in Vancouver in 1993. The Collected Poems of Sylvia Plath, edited by Ted Hughes, had won the Pulitzer Prize in 1982. Hughes was accorded the post of Britain's Poet Laureate in 1984. Following two trips to England to research the couple, Hurdle's collection of poems called After Ted and Sylvia (Ronsdale 2003) 'forms a ménage a trois with the two poets' to explore their love-torn relationship. The final section from Purgatory features Plath's fury upon reading Ted Hughes' poems from a prize winning collection called Birthday Letters that appeared in the year of his death. Hurdle read a number of her Plath/Hughes poems at the international Plath Symposium at the University of Indiana in the fall of 2002. Crystal Hurdle was born in Zwiebrucken, Germany in 1958 and grew up in Ottawa, Ontario and Victoria, British Columbia, where she obtained a BA and MA in English. Since 1985 she has been teaching Creative Writing and English Literature and Composition at Capilano College in North Vancouver. Her poetry has been published in Canadian journals, including Canadian Literature, The Dalhousie Review and The Capilano Review, a publication for which she has served as fiction editor. She lives in North Vancouver.
[BCBW 2003] "Poetry"
After Ted and Sylvia (Ronsdale $14.95)
Sylvia Plath famously committed suicide in 1963, the same year her autobiographical novel The Bell Jar was published. Vandals have repeatedly tried to erase her husband Ted Hughes’ surname from her tombstone, blaming him for her death. Crystal Hurdle became fascinated with the couple’s relationship after hearing Hughes read his poetry in Vancouver in 1993. He died in 1998.
Plath and Hughes met at Cambridge University and married in 1956. The Collected Poems of Sylvia Plath, edited by Ted Hughes, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1982; Hughes received the post of Britain’s Poet Laureate two years later.
Hurdle’s collection of poems called After Ted and Sylvia (Ronsdale $14.95) “forms a ménage a trois with the two poets” to explore their love-torn relationship. Some of the poetry explores Ted and Sylvia’s not so wonderful adventures after their deaths, when Hurdle imagines Sylvia Plath filled with rancour in the after-life.
By a fortuitous coincidence, there’s a new movie out called Sylvia, in which Gwyneth Paltrow portrays Sylvia Plath. Filmed in Devon and Cornwall, the movie shows the American-born Plath as a sunny and carefree personality; not a tormented poet.
Feminists have long preferred to view Plath as the victim of a philandering husband who was indirectly responsible for Plath’s horrible death—when she gassed herself in her oven while her children slept in the next room.
Hurdle, a self-confessed ‘Plath and Hughes’ addict, is now working on a poetry collection inspired by Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita. 1-55380-010-9