This program is virtual, on Zoom
Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath
With a wealth of never-before-accessed materials, Heather Clark brings to life the brilliant Sylvia Plath, who had precocious poetic ambition and was an accomplished published writer—even before she became a star at Smith College. Refusing to read Plath’s work as if her every act was a harbinger of her tragic fate, Clark considers the sociopolitical context as she thoroughly explores Plath’s world: her early relationships and determination not to become a conventional woman and wife; her troubles with an unenlightened mental health industry; her Cambridge years and thunderclap meeting with Ted Hughes; and much more.
Clark’s clear-eyed portraits of Hughes, his lover Assia Wevill, and other demonized players in the arena of Plath’s suicide promote a deeper understanding of her final days. Along with illuminating readings of the poems themselves, Clark’s meticulous, compassionate research brings us closer than ever to the spirited woman and visionary artist who blazed a trail that still lights the way for women poets the world over.
Heather Clark earned her bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Harvard University and her doctorate in English from Oxford University. Her awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Fellowship; a Leon Levy Biography Fellowship at the City University of New York; and a Visiting U.S. Fellowship at the Eccles Centre for American Studies, British Library. A former Visiting Scholar at the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing, she is the author of The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes and The Ulster Renaissance: Poetry in Belfast 1962-1972. Her work has appeared in publications including Harvard Review and The Times Literary Supplement, and she recently served as the scholarly consultant for the BBC documentary Sylvia Plath: Life Inside the Bell Jar. Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize Finalist. She divides her time between Chappaqua, New York, and Yorkshire, England, where she is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at the University of Huddersfield. www.heatherclarkauthor.com (Photo by Carolyn Simpson)
Tenderness: A Novel
Booker Prize-longlisted author Alison MacLeod brilliantly recreates the novel's origins and boldly imagines its journey to freedom through the story of Jackie Kennedy, who was known to be an admirer. In MacLeod's telling, Jackie - in her last days before becoming first lady - learns that publishers are trying to bring D.H. Lawrence's long-censored novel to American and British readers in its full form. The U.S. government has responded by targeting the postal service for distributing obscene material. Enjoying what anonymity she has left, determined to honor a novel she loves, Jackie attends the hearing incognito. But there she is quickly recognized, and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover takes note of her interest and her outrage. Through the story of Lawrence's writing of Lady Chatterley's Lover, the historic obscenity trial that sought to suppress it in the United Kingdom, and the men and women who fought for its worldwide publication, Alison MacLeod captures the epic sweep of the twentieth century from war and censorship to sensuality and freedom. Exquisite, evocative, and grounded in history, Tenderness is a testament to the transformative power of fiction.
Alison MacLeod is the author of three novels – The Changeling, The Wave Theory of Angels and Unexploded, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013 – and two story collections. She is the joint winner of the Eccles British Library Writer’s Award 2016 and was a finalist for the 2017 Governor General’s Award. She was Professor of Contemporary Fiction at the University of Chichester until 2018, when she became Visiting Professor to write full-time. She lives in Brighton.
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Future Meet the Author(s)
Feb 9 - 6:00pm
Chinese New Year and The Year of the Rabbit: What Will It Bring?-- ONSITE at Mechanics' Institute
with renowned Bay Area author Maxine Hong Kingston and historian and former Chinese New Year parade director David Lei