Today on My Poetic Side, we look at the legacy of Sylvia Plath’s poetry and the decision to grant a late poet’s home historic status.
Sylvia Plath – 60 Years Since Her Death
It has been 60 years since the celebrated and troubled poet Sylvia Plath died, but in that time, her work has become even more important. As a poet, her work is something that many people are introduced to when they first take a look at creative writing or poetry. Unfortunately, her suicide all too often eclipses the memory of her poet. She was ahead of her time, a poet who broke the mould but at the same time conformed to what society expected, marriage and children.
Plath was only 30 when she took her own life. She had struggled with mental health for much of her life and was incredibly unhappy in her marriage to Ted Hughes, a fellow poet. Many of the things that she talked about in her poems were subjects that other poets had never touched on; they were too personal or seen as “ugly” topics. She was what is termed a confessional poet, for her poetry was an escape, a way of talking about those things in life that were simply not talked about and that people thought should be kept private.
Whilst she lived during the 1950s, many of the things that she voices, the ways in which she felt, are still incredibly relevant today; the difference is that many of these subjects like mental health and even suicide attempts, are less taboo than they once were.
Historic Status Granted to Home of Late Black Poet
The city council of Ann Arbor have voted overwhelmingly to grant historic status to a house located at 1201 Gardner Ave where the poet Robert Hayden lived with his wife from 1969 until his death in 1980.
Hayden was the first African American to be voted in as a poet laureate of the Library of Congress and was considered to be one of the best poets in the world.
The house, which can be dated back to 1936, is currently owned by Patrick Patillo, who was married to Hayden’s late daughter. Patillo spoke at the meeting in favour of granting the property historical status. Ouse Historical District Study Committee was created by the City Council in order to look into the historic significance that the house might have had, and the historic decision was made during their first meeting to take place during the 2023 Black History Month.
The property is where Hayden made some of his most important contributions to culture, American history and poetry. He wrote what is considered to be some of the most powerful Black history poetry written in the English language.
Born in 1913 in Detroit, Robert Hayden was a winner of the Hopwood Award for aspiring writers. He received his degree in 1942 and taught for a number of years before becoming the University of Michigan’s first Black faculty member. In 1967 he became the first Black poet to hold the position of poet laureate.