THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath | Mechanics' Institute

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THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath
author Heather Clark in conversation with playwright Lynne Kaufman. This program is virtual on Zoom.


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. (Photo by Carolyn Simpson)

Lynne Kaufman is the author of twenty full length prize winning plays produced nationally at such venues as The Magic Theatre, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, Theatreworks Silicon Valley, The Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles and The Abington Theatre in New York City. Most recently she has had three plays produced at The Marsh Theatre: “Acid Test”, “Two Minds” and “Who Killed Sylvia Plath”. Her solo play “Who killed Sylvia Plath”, starring Lorri Holt, had a six week run at both The Marsh SF and The Marsh in Berkeley. It also won first place for Best Show in The Marsh’s International Solo Play Festival. She teaches writing at The Fromm Institute and at OLLI San Francisco Stage. Her new book: Divine Madness: Two Novellas will be published in May 2022 by Tailwinds Press.



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