Winter is for Women
I knew I probably would not fully memorize Sylvia Plath’s “Wintering” By Heart, and I didn’t. The poem is too long, and February is too short. But it’s the poem that gave the title to Katherine May’s Wintering, which we’ve been reading as a book club with our Patreon partners. The chapter in which the poem appears is called “Survival,” perhaps because Plath didn’t. I owed her my month.
Plath is a poet I’ve avoided, afraid of what I might read. I lean rather melancholy — would reading her make me even more sad? Then again, she’s one of Tweetspeak’s Take Your Poet to Work poets.
But what ultimately convinced me to learn the poem was watching the TV series Dickinson, inspired by the life of Emily Dickinson. “The Future never spoke” is a bonkers time-travel episode, in which Emily and her sister, Vinnie, visit the future and meet Sylvia Plath, who tells Dickinson about her legacy. The good news? Dickinson is a published poet! In hardcover! The bad news? History has misjudged her, reducing her to a depressed recluse in white.
The brilliance of the episode is that it invites us to consider how Plath herself has been misjudged. What do most people know about Plath? She wrote poems, married fellow poet Ted Hughes, and died by suicide. We don’t know she was “hanging on for the bees.” We don’t know about her honey, “Six jars of it.” What else don’t we know?
Read more at Tweetspeak Poetry