Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday Muse Asks Did You Know?

This is the third in an occasional series presenting something about poets, poems, or poetry that you might not know. This edition is devoted to women in the field.

Did You Know . . .

✦ Edna St. Vincent Millay named her Austerlitz, New York, country house "Steepletop" after a wild flower, Spiraea tomentosa, found growing throughout the 700-acre property. Today, "Steepletop" is a National Historic Landmark owned by the Edna St. Vincent Millay Society. (The poet's middle name, by the way, was bestowed in honor of the now-defunct St. Vincent's Hospital, in New York City, which had saved the life of a Millay uncle. Millay was born in February 1892; she died in October 1950.)

✦ A marble bench marks the grave in Logan, Utah, of May Swenson. Swenson's poem "The Exchange" is carved into the seat; the lines "Read me. Read my mind." (from "The Wonderful Pen") are incised into the pedestal. (May Swenson Society) Susan Botti's musical composition Translucence was inspired by "The Exchange" (published in Nature: Poems Old and New; text at GoogleBooks).

✦ In 1968,  Marianne Moore pitched the first ball of the season at Yankee Stadium. (Paul P. Reuben's Perspectives in American Literature, Chapter 7: Marianne Moore) See the image (perhaps that's more of a toss than a pitch). Here's Moore's poem "Baseball and Writing".

Mona Van Duyn, "a pioneer of the poetry of the suburbs", was the first woman to be named (in 1992) "Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress"; the words "Poet Laureate" were added to the title by law in 1985. Six women before Van Duyn served in the position when it was called "Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress". (Frequently Asked Questions)

Margaret Atwood penned a poem to celebrate the 30th birthday of the largest women's imprint Virago Press on May 23, 2003. You'll find the commemorative poem in the About section of the press. 


Carol Ann Duffy achieved the honor of becoming the first woman to be named "Scottish Poet Laureate". For 400 years that recognition had been bestowed only on men. Nice to see a woman get her due. ("Carol Ann Duffy Becomes First Female Poet Laureate", The Guardian, May 1, 2009)

✦ The fiftieth anniversary of the death of Sylvia Plath will be February 11. By 1996, the 25th anniversary of its publication, Plath's The Bell Jar had sold more than 2 million copies in the U.S. alone; Faber plans to release a 50th anniversary edition this month. This past October marked the 50th anniversary of Plath's collection ArielIndiana University Northwest  publishes an interdisciplinary journal for Plath studies.

For all things Plath, see Sylvia Plath Info Blog.

4 comments:

Louise Gallagher said...

Wow -- I didn't know.

And seriously... Sylvia Plath died 50 years ago? It is amazing how her words continue to resonate.

Hannah Stephenson said...

I agree, Louise!

Really interesting--I love when you post these.

nance said...

I did not know...

S. Etole said...

I love that name, "Steepletop."